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PLACE NAMES: South Slocan

South Slocan had several earlier names including Ward’s Ferry, Ward’s Crossing, and Ward’s Bay.
The staircase leading up to the South Slocan schoolhouse. The school was known as Slocan Junction until 1931. (Greg Nesteroff photo)

One hundred eighty-third in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

South Slocan had several earlier names including Ward’s Ferry, Ward’s Crossing, and Ward’s Bay, named for Thomas Martindale Ward (1859-1903).

Ward was born in India, where his father was a surgeon. As a child his family moved to England and then Canada, where they settled on a farm near Stanhope, Que. Ward attended the Ontario Agricultural College before heading west, arriving in BC in 1884. He spent time in Golden and Revelstoke and then came to Nelson in 1888, where he landed a government contract to run a ferry across what’s now known as Slocan Pool. Before completion of the railway, it was a critical link on the trail between Nelson and Sproat’s Landing, near present-day Castlegar.

Ward built a rough hotel called the Rustle House — so named because he furnished accommodation plus bannock and coffee but his guests had to rustle everything else. Although the ferry had been in service for a while, the first mention of Ward’s Ferry by name is in the Nelson Miner of June 21, 1890: “Joe Wilson’s pack train cleaned up all the Nelson freight at Sproat and brought it up the north side of the river, crossing it at the falls instead of at Ward’s ferry.”

Ward’s Crossing was first mentioned in the Miner on July 12 of that year: “The trail is not only longer than the government trail by way of Ward’s crossing, but it is rougher …” while Ward’s Bay appeared for the first time on July 18, 1891 when the Miner noted the sale of the Black Bear claim by Frank Fletcher to Franklin Farrell, “½ mile below the falls at Ward’s bay.”

These three variations were used interchangeably for some time, and persisted even after the Canadian Pacific Railway adopted the name Slocan Junction for the southern terminus of its Slocan subdivision. The earliest reference was Herbert Lambert’s application “to sell liquor by retail at Slocan Junction,” dated June 26, 1897 and published in the Nelson Miner on July 3. A week later the Nelson Tribune noted: “The new branch leaves the C&K railway at Ward’s Crossing, which is now known as Slocan Junction.”

Fifteen years later, the name was inexplicably changed from Slocan Junction to South Slocan. The earliest mention yet discovered is in the Nelson Daily News of Oct. 23, 1912: “[T]he CPR will commence next Saturday, Oct. 26 [to] attach a coach to the through Saturday night freight train for Slocan City, leaving Nelson at 10 p.m., South Slocan at 10:30 p.m. …”

The Daily News used both South Slocan and Slocan Junction throughout 1913, sometimes in the same story. The Slocan Junction post office, opened in 1899, was renamed South Slocan in 1915. But the old name lingered on: Slocan Junction appeared in Wrigley’s BC directory through 1923 with the note “See listings under South Slocan.” The Slocan Junction school didn’t change its name to South Slocan until 1931.

The community grew with West Kootenay Power’s construction of the South Slocan dam in 1928, and by the 1950s, the chief residential and business area was known as South Slocan Village. This name survives in local use and the old highway is now called South Slocan Village Road. South Slocan was never actually an incorporated village, although it has a commission of management that functions somewhat like a council.

South Slocan’s boundaries have unofficially grown over the years to include parts of what might formerly have been considered Crescent Valley or Shoreacres. Further blurring the lines, in 2001 the South Slocan post office moved from the village to Ione’s Restaurant on Osachoff Road, putting it in close proximity to the Crescent Valley post office. In fact, the Crescent Valley post office was once briefly located at that same spot. (The South Slocan post office has since moved three more times, onto Garden Rd., then to a fruit stand at the junction, and now back to the village.)

The intersection of Highway 3A and 6 is also known as Playmor Junction, a name first used in 1968, which we’ve previously covered. It was officially recognized in 1985 as a “community.” Playmor Junction and South Slocan are now virtually synonymous, and sometimes you’ll see “South Slocan Junction.”

Despite its name, South Slocan isn’t generally regarded as being in the Slocan Valley — at least the village isn’t. Nor for that matter is Slocan Pool on the Slocan River – it’s on the Kootenay. The latter name was officially adopted in 1955. Although no longer widely used, Wards Bay (without the apostrophe) remains an official name as well.

Previous installments in this series





Annable, Apex, and Arrow Park

Annable, revisited


Applegrove, Appleby, and Appledale revisited

Argenta and Arrowhead


Bakers, Birds, and Bosun Landing


Bannock City, Basin City, and Bear Lake City



Bealby Point

Bealby Point (aka Florence Park) revisited

Belford and Blewett

Beaverdell and Billings

Birchbank and Birchdale

Blueberry and Bonnington

Boswell, Bosworth, Boulder Mill, and Broadwater



Brooklyn, Brouse, and Burnt Flat


Camborne, Cariboo City, and Carrolls Landing

Carmi, Cedar Point, Circle City, and Clark’s Camp

Carson, Carstens, and Cascade City

Casino and Champion Creek

Castlegar, Part 1

Castlegar, Part 2

Castlegar, Part 3

Christina Lake

Christina City and Christian Valley

Clubb Landing and Coltern

Cody and Champion Creek revisited

Champion Creek revisited, again


Columbia City, Columbia Gardens, and Columbia Park


Cooper Creek and Corra Linn

Crawford Bay and Comaplix revisited

Crescent Valley and Craigtown


Dawson, Deadwood, and Deanshaven

Deer Park

East Arrow Park and Edgewood


English Cove and English Point



Evans Creek and Evansport

Falls City




Ferguson, revisited


Forslund, Fosthall, and Fairview

Fort Shepherd vs. Fort Sheppard, Part 1

Fort Shepherd vs. Fort Sheppard, Part 2

Fort Sheppard, revisited

Fraser’s Landing and Franklin


Fruitvale and Fraine

Galena Bay



Gilpin and Glade

Gladstone and Gerrard, revisited

Glendevon and Graham Landing

Gloster City

Goldfields and Gold Hill

Grand Forks, Part 1

Grand Forks, Part 2

Granite Siding and Granite City

Gray Creek, Part 1

Gray Creek, Part 2

Gray Creek, revisited

Green City


Halcyon Hot Springs

Hall Siding and Healy’s Landing


Hartford Junction


Howser, Part 1

Howser, Part 2

Howser, Part 3

Howser, Part 4

Hudu Valley, Huntingtdon, and Healy’s Landing revisited

Inonoaklin Valley (aka Fire Valley)

Jersey, Johnsons Landing, and Jubilee Point

Kaslo, Part 1

Kaslo, Part 2

Kaslo, Part 3

Kaslo, Part 4

Kettle River, Part 1

Kettle River, Part 2

Kinnaird, Part 1

Kinnaird, Part 2

Kitto Landing

Koch Siding and Keen


Kootenay Bay, Kraft, and Krestova

Kuskonook, Part 1

Kuskonook, Part 2

Kuskonook (and Kuskanax), Part 3

Labarthe, Lafferty, and Longbeach

Lardeau, Part 1

Lardeau, Part 2

Lardeau, Part 3

Lardeau, Part 4


Lemon Creek, Part 1

Lemon Creek, Part 2

Lemon Creek, Part 3

Makinsons Landing and Marblehead

McDonalds Landing, McGuigagren, and Meadow Creek

Meadows, Melville, and Miles’ Ferry


Mineral City and Minton

Mirror Lake and Molly Gibson Landing

Montgomery and Monte Carlo, Part 1

Montgomery and Monte Carlo, Part 2

Montrose and Myncaster

Nakusp, Part 1

Nakusp, Part 2



Nelson, Part 1

Nelson, Part 2

Nelson, Part 3

Nelson, Part 4

Nelson, Wash.

Nelway and New Galway

New Denver, Part 1

New Denver, Part 2


Oasis and Oatescott



Park Siding and Pass Creek




Perry Siding


Pilot Bay


Playmor Junction

Poplar and Porcupine

Porto Rico and Pottersville

Poupore, Powder Point, and Power’s Camp

Procter, Part 1

Procter, Part 2

Queens Bay, Rambler, and Raspberry

Remac and Renata


Rhone and Rideau


Ritaville, Riverside I, Riverside II, and Rivervale

Robson and Rock Creek

Rosebery and Ross Spur

Rossland, Part 1

Rossland, Part 2

St. Leon and Rosebery, revisited


Salmon Rapids

Sandon, Part 1

Sandon, Part 2



Sheep Creek

Shields, Shirley, and Shoreholme


Shutty Bench and Six Mile

The South Slocan post office has moved several times in the last 15 years, from the village to Osachoff Road, to Garden Rd., to the junction, and then back to the village. (Greg Nesteroff photo)
The South Slocan post office has moved several times in the last 15 years, from the village to Osachoff Road, to Garden Rd., to the junction, and then back to the village. (Greg Nesteroff photo)