One hundred and first in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Earlier in this series, we looked at how the origin of Castlegar’s name was definitively established after a century of uncertainty. However, the jury’s still out on Kinnaird, originally known as West Waterloo, and first mentioned in the Trail Creek News of April 16, 1897: “West Waterloo … is doing some improvement.” (East Waterloo, better known as simply Waterloo, is today’s lower Ootischenia; we’ll get to it much later in this series.)
West Waterloo appeared as a stop on the Columbia and Western Railway’s schedule as of November 1897. The earliest mention of Kinnaird yet discovered is in William Blakemore’s Report of Royal Commission on Matters Relating to the Sect of Doukhobors in the Province of British Columbia, dated Dec. 21, 1912:
“The Doukhobor Inquiry commissioner, with his secretary and photographer and others who accompanied him yesterday on a visit to the Doukhobor settlements on the banks of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers between Kinnaird and Brilliant, spent a day of unique and varied interest. Crossing the Columbia River from Kinnaird on the cable ferry installed by the Society, they come to what was in the early days of the mining development of this locality called Waterloo …”
Kinnaird was on the CPR timetable the following year. However, a post office didn’t open until 1945, by which time Kinnaird was becoming a bedroom community of both Trail and Castlegar (the post office closed in 1973).
Kinnaird was incorporated as a village in 1948, re-incorporated as a town in 1967, and amalgamated with Castlegar in 1974, whereupon a contest was held to name the new city. Not only was Castlegar the landslide favourite with 825 votes, Kinnaird wasn’t even the runner-up: it finished sixth with a mere 11 votes, behind Selkirk, Castleaird, Castlegar-Kinnaird, and Twin Rivers.
Despite the seeming indifference of residents, Kinnaird was nevertheless well entrenched and its name is perpetuated thanks to a bridge, elementary school, two churches, a park, and a community hall — although the area is often called South Castlegar.
Today Kinnaird is recognized by the BC Geographic Names database as an “urban community.” While the dividing line between Kinnaird and Castlegar is no longer apparent, it used to be where the highway crosses the railway tracks near Safeway.
So what of the name’s origin? It comes from the Scottish Gaelic An Ceann Аrd, meaning “high headland,” but how and when it was applied to a West Kootenay whistlestop isn’t clear.
The British Columbia Centennial Directory, published in 1967, claimed “Around 1904 the CPR … put in a box car station at the old Waterloo trail crossing and called it Kinnaird station, in honor of Lord Kinnaird, who was a shareholder in the CPR.” (Roger Burrows, in Railway Mileposts, Vol. II, suggests the name was changed to prevent confusion with Waterloo, Ont.)
Arthur Fitzgerald Kinnaird, 11th Lord Kinnaird of Inchture and third Baron Kinnaird of Rossie (1847-1923), is mainly remembered as a leading soccer player; there’s scant evidence he or his forbears held stock in the CPR. Just the same, when the Town of Kinnaird received its coat of arms in 1969, it bore markings from Baron Kinnaird’s Arms of Scotland.
There are two villages named Kinnaird in Scotland, plus Kinnaird Head, which projects into the North Sea on Scotland’s east coast. Another theory is that our Kinnaird is named after an early resident. We’ll look more closely at this next week and reveal a new candidate for the community’s namesake.
Previous installments in this series