This ca. 1950s brochure implored visitors to Follow the Rainbow to Kaslo. (Greg Nesteroff collection)

PLACE NAMES: Nicknames, part 4

Kaslo was the Baby City, City of Energy, and Cherry Capital

Two hundred sixty-ninth in a series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

Kaslo has had several nicknames, the earliest of which appears to have been the Baby City.

It was referred to this way in The Ledge of April 12, 1894 and several more times in June and July 1895. The implication seems to simply have been to its youth — in August 1893, it became the first incorporated city in the Kootenays.

Shortly before its own incorporation, Slocan adopted the title. The Ledge of April 4, 1901 reported: “Slocan City has taken upon itself the nickname of ‘the Baby City.’ This would indicate that the inhabitants of ‘the burg’ believe that the foundation of life is inexhaustible and that there is to be no decrease in the birth rate.”

Slocan soon shed its swaddling clothes; its last use of Baby City was in The Ledge on March 27, 1902. Today it’s the Gateway to the Valhallas.

Kaslo next became the City of Energy, a name that first turns up in the Nelson Miner of Aug. 3, 1895: “On the west shore of the Lake … is situated the City of Energy, known on the map as Kaslo.” It appeared in a recurring ad in the Kaslo Morning News starting in June 1898.

The reference wasn’t to electricity, although the city did have its own power plant. A.J. McGuin explained in the Toronto Globe, as reprinted in The Kootenaian of Dec. 8, 1897, “It has been named the ‘City of Energy’ because it was burned out in 1894, was the victim of the panic in 1893, when everybody went stone broke, and was visited by a flood in June 1894, but recovered from all these disasters …”

The last time the nickname was used appears to have been in The Ledge of May 31, 1906: “[T]here certainly must be something magnetic in the atmosphere of famous old Kaslo, the city of energy.”

We’ve previously looked at how Kaslo was called the Queen City, a mantle since assumed by Nelson.

Kaslo was also known as the Gem of the Kootenays (on a ca. 1930s brochure issued by Hendricks’ Garage and Machine Shop, and in The Kootenaian, Aug. 20, 1953) and, until disease blighted its leading crop, the Home of the World’s Finest Cherries (same brochure), or the Cherry Capital of the Kootenays (Women’s Institute history of Kaslo, ca. 1957).

Kaslo was further called the Lucerne of North America — a title claimed by New Denver as well. We’ll look at that one more closely next week.

Following a contest, the local Board of Trade adopted the slogan “Follow the Rainbow to Kaslo.” According to the minutes of Dec. 20, 1946, it was chosen from among 14 finalists, and was suggested by Bob and George McDougall of South Slocan.

It was still in use as of 1977, when the visitors guide wrote: “A fine sheltered bay which has the largest inland marina in BC tucked away in one corner of it. The reason? In one word — fish! The slogan ‘Follow the rainbow to Kaslo, the trophy capitol of the world’ has been used by the Chamber of Commerce for many years.”

Today Kaslo has no commonly used nickname, but its present slogan is Picture Perfect.


We previously noted in this series that Mirror Lake, south of Kaslo, was first mentioned in the Nelson Miner of March 7, 1896. But it was previously called Little Lake, a name that turns up in the Vancouver Daily World of July 5, 1893.

“The Kootenay Powder Co. will probably purchase a site for their works at the Little Lake, situated about three miles south of the city and close to the shore of Kootenay lake. They have been ordered to remove their establishment from their present position just across the lake from Kaslo.”

The capitalization suggests it was an actual name, not a generic term, although no other references have been found.


Previously the earliest known mention of Kinnaird was in William Blakemore’s Report of Royal Commission of Matters Relating to the Sect of the Doukhobors of British Columbia, dated Dec. 21, 1912.

The identical text included in the report first appeared in the Nelson Daily News of Sept. 6, 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 …”


This ca. 1950s brochure implored visitors to Follow the Rainbow to Kaslo. (Greg Nesteroff collection)

This ca. 1930s brochure from Hendricks’ Garage and Machine Shop called Kaslo the Gem of the Kootenays and the Hme of the World’s Finest Cherries. (Greg Nesteroff collection)

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