One hundred twenty-fifth in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Montgomery, Monte Carlo, and Waterloo Landing were short-lived mining towns on the east side of the Columbia River near present-day Castlegar that are closely intertwined. Some sources say they were all pretty much the same place, while others draw distinctions.
According to the Trail Creek News of April 16, 1897, “The history of the place dates from August 1895 when Hiram Landis, formerly of Chewelah, Wash., located here and erected a house … for the accommodation for himself and others … They afterward named the place ‘Waterloo Landing.’”
Waterloo, Belgium was the site of the Battle of Waterloo, which ended the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. But the Castlegar News of Sept. 28, 1967 said Waterloo Landing took its name from the Waterloo mine, which was in a group of claims 2½ miles from the town on a ridge just north of Iron Creek.
Clara Graham wrote in Kootenay Mosaic that Waterloo was originally known as Landis’ Landing, but no contemporary references have been discovered.
The earliest mention of both Waterloo and Monte Carlo was in the Trail Creek News of May 23, 1896: “The mysterious actions of a number of Trail boys has been explained … [T]hey have a townsite and lots will be up for sale next week. The site is 15 miles up the river, on the east bank near Waterloo Landing, to be known as Monte Carlo. The owners are A.E.J. Percival, Fred W. Cowan, and Witcher Settle.”
The same issue contained a legal ad indicating Settle wanted to buy 640 acres of surveyed land. Monte Carlo took its name from a nearby mining claim, which presumably was in turn named for the district in Monaco.
Another early mention appeared in the Nelson Miner of July 18, 1896: “The new camp 15 miles upstream where Horne Payne has bonded the Apache and Waterloo groups is now known as the Monte Carlo camp … J. Roup is building a large hotel at Waterloo landing.”
Three days later the Victoria Daily Colonist quoted the Seattle Post-Intelligencer thusly: “One of the surprises of this wonderful country is the rapid development of the Monte Carlo camp near Waterloo Landing … The reports that come in are very favorable for the establishment of a permanent camp …”
The Colonist also quoted the Trail Creek News: “[B]efore another 12 months the camp of Monte Carlo, now called Waterloo Landing, will be of as much prominence as Trail or Rossland.”
The earliest mention of Montgomery, meanwhile, was in the Nelson Miner of Aug. 1, 1896: “The Lillooet, Fraser River, and Cariboo Gold Fields Ltd. has purchased the interests of the Columbia and Western railway in a square mile of land, lying along the left bank of the Columbia river and beginning three and a half miles below the mouth of the Kootenay river. A few weeks ago the locality was known as Waterloo landing. Then it became Monte Carlo. The company has now christened it Montgomery.”
The Rossland Miner of Aug. 14, 1896 noted: “Notices have been posted up on the new townsite of Montgomery, warning people not to build.”
In the British Columbia Mining Record that month, a correspondent wrote: “A short distance down the river we put into a place with a sign having ‘Montgomery’ on it and underneath the words ‘Lillooet, Fraser River, and Cariboo Gold Fields Ltd.’ …”
In April 1897, another correspondent to that publication noted “We stopped at Montgomery and Waterloo, two new towns which have sprung into existence during the past few months through the proximity of promising mines and several logging camps in the neighborhood …”
No one has ever suggested how Montgomery got its name, but we’ll reveal the answer here: the chairman of the Lillooet, Fraser River and Cariboo Gold Fields Ltd. was Robert Horne-Payne (1869-1929), an English financier who was also active with the Canadian Northern Railway and BC Electric Railway, among other firms. One of his middle names was Montgomery. Hornepayne, Ont. is also named after him.
Next: Montgomery meets its Waterloo
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