Kinbasket Lake

Feature type: Lake
Province: British Columbia
Location: Expansion of Columbia River behind Mica Dam
Latitude: 52°08’00″
Longitude: 118°27’00″
NTS map: 83D/1
Official name listed at BC Geographical Names

This immense reservoir behind Mica Dam takes the name of a former small lake engulfed by the flooding of the Columbia River valley.

“We crossed the Columbia river, and at a short distance came to a little camp of Shuswap Indians, where I met their headman, Kinbaskit,” wrote Walter Moberly in his book Rocks and Rivers of BC. “I now negotiated with him for two little canoes made of the bark of the spruce, and for his assistance to take me down the river. Kinbaskit was a very good Indian, and I found him always reliable. We ran many rapids and portaged others, then came to a Lake which I named Kinbaskit Lake, much to the old chief’s delight.”

Moberly first met Kinbasket in 1866. In 1871, they met again when Kinbasket guided a survey party for the Canadian Pacific Railway near Howse Pass. Surveyor Robert M. Rylatt wrote, “In mid-August Chief Kinbasket came to grief when a grizzly bear attacked him. The old chief had barely time to raise the axe and aim a blow, ’ere the weapon was dashed aside like a flash and he was in the embrace of the monster; the huge forepaws around him, the immense claws dug into his back, the bear held him up. Then fastening the poor chief’s shoulders in his iron jaws, he raised one of his hind feet, and tore a fearful gash, commencing at the abdomen, and cutting through to the bowels, he fairly stripped the flesh and muscles from one of his thighs, a bloody, hanging mass of rent flesh and clothing.” Kinbasket survived the attack, although he was not found until the following morning.

The Kinbaskets, or children of Kinbasket, are a Shuswap tribe who, before their confinement to reserves, lived in a more or less nomadic state, wintering and ranging in the Columbia Valley, chiefly between Golden and Windermere. From 1973 to 1980 the reservoir was called McNaughton Lake, after General Andrew McNaughton. The name still appears on many maps.

References:
  • Akrigg, George Philip Vernon, 1913-, and Helen B. Akrigg. British Columbia place names. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997
  • Berton, Pierre Francis deMarigny, 1920-. The national dream: the great railway 1871–1881. Toronto: McLelland and Stewart, 1970
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