This ad for the Canyon City townsite appeared in the Greenwood Miner on May 25, 1900.

This ad for the Canyon City townsite appeared in the Greenwood Miner on May 25, 1900.

PLACE NAMES: Canyon City, Crystal Creek, and Deschamps

W.S. Fletcher had big plans for a townsite 21 miles north of Westbridge. It was all for naught

Two hundred twenty-first in a series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

There were two places in our area called Canyon City. The earliest mention of the first, a Boundary mining camp, was in the Midway Advance of May 29, 1899: “Forbes M. Kerby, PLS, returned home on Friday last … Mr. Kerby has during the past few days been engaged in the laying out of a new town, Canyon City, which is situated on the main Kettle River, at the mouth of Canyon creek. This townsite is owned by Mr. W.S. Fletcher of Greenwood.”

The creek itself flows east into the Kettle River and was first mentioned in the Advance of June 14, 1894. Fletcher built a wagon road to the fledgling city, 21 miles north of Westbridge, as well as a modest stopping place.

The Greenwood Miner of June 1, 1900, explained: “The lots in Canyon City are having a ready sale and as soon as the sawmill is installed building operations will begin on an extended scale … Over 100 men are now working in the mines in the vicinity of the townsite.”

Ads for Canyon City appeared regularly in the local newspapers through September, but the town failed to take off. The Midway Dispatch of Sept. 29, 1902, published a withering assessment:

“In the spring of 1900, W.S. Fletcher and his associates, who, we understand, hailed from Victoria, wanted to boom a place called Canyon City … They built a road from a point near Westbridge to Canyon City … Though this road was built to promote private interests, the government of British Columbia reimbursed them for their outlay to the extent of $4,500. There was no popular agitation for this road, not a family ever living on Kettle river above Westbridge. There was not and is not a producing mine that section of the country; in the whole distance there is only one cultivated ranch.”

However, Canyon City remained a place name for many years afterwards. The last known use was in the Greenwood Ledge of Aug. 4, 1927.

The other Canyon City, now known simply as Canyon, is southeast of Creston. It was first mentioned in an ad for the Canyon City Land and Lumber Co. Ltd. in the Lethbridge Herald of Nov. 2, 1908. The company, whose principals were from Saginaw, Mich., placed 8,700 acres up for sale.

When did they drop the “city”? It happened gradually but started by 1916. The Canyon post office opened in 1924.


This creek, north of Kaslo, was listed as a place unto itself in W.A. Jeffries’ 1915 Kootenay Boundary directory with exactly one resident: Col. Arnold H.G. Kemball.

It was yet another early name in the mix for the area, including Shutty Bench, Kemball’s Landing, Richardson’s Landing, and Rhonda Beach.

Col. Kemball commanded the 54th Kootenay Battalion in the First World War and died on Vimy Ridge. Several buildings and geographic features have been named after him: Kemball Creek, which is close to Crystal Creek; Mount Kemball in Kokanee Glacier Park, the Kemball Armoury in Trail, and the Kemball Memorial Centre in Kaslo.

A second Crystal Creek flows southeast into the West Arm of Kootenay Lake near Willow Point. It in turn gave its name to the evocative sounding Crystal Hall.


This place appears in the 1914 and 1915 Kootenay Boundary directories but nowhere else. No location was specified, but given that everyone who lived there was a “millman” or “lumberman” we can guess it was named after Joseph Stephen Deschamps (1867-1922).

Deschamps was born in St. Isadore, Ont. and came to Rossland in 1897 where he started a sawmill in partnership with Louis Blue. Two years later the Yale Columbia Lumber Co. bought Blue’s interest and Deschamps became manager of the Rossland division. Blue and Deschamps later formed the China Creek Lumber Co. in partnership with West Kootenay Power president Lorne Campbell.

Sometime after 1912, he established a mill at Birchbank — which is probably the place the directory was referring to. Deschamps also built a mill in Nelson and did business on Goat Creek near Slocan.

He ran provincially for the Liberals in the Trail riding in 1920 but lost.


The Canyon City Land and Lumber Co. Ltd. began advertising Creston fruit lands in the Lethbridge Herald in 1908.

The Canyon City Land and Lumber Co. Ltd. began advertising Creston fruit lands in the Lethbridge Herald in 1908.