McKirdy Creek

Feature type: Creek (1)
Province: British Columbia
Location: Flows S into Canoe River, SE of Valemount
Latitude: 52°48’00”
Longitude: 119°12’00”
NTS map: 83D/14
Official name listed at BC Geographical Names

Fulton Alexander McKirdy (1874-1960) was born in Toronto, the youngest of eleven children. His father died when he was seven, and his mother moved to a farm near Wingham. In 1884 Fulton went to live in Nipigon with a brother, who operated a guiding outfit and trading post. In 1896 he started working on bridges for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and two years later came west to work on the Crow’s Nest branch. Almost the whole crew contacted typhoid fever; McKirdy was one of the few to recover.

With horses bought in Cranbrook, McKirdy and H. Dart travelled to Golden and prospected north up the Columbia River to the mouth of the Canoe River. In 1899, after a return to Golden, he prospected along the Canoe, Swift Current, and Fraser rivers. During the winter he trapped. In 1906 or 1907 he was one of the first to stake a homestead in the township of Cranberry Lake (now Valemount). McKirdy chose a field that had been burnt off for horse-pasture by the Indians who passed through the valley during summer hunting trips. When he first plowed his field, he unearthed Indian arrowheads and other artifacts. He named the creek that bordered his property “McKirdy Creek.”

In 1910 fires from the railroad right-of-way clearing and slash burning were spreading into valuable timber. McKirdy was appointed fire warden, reporting to Revelstoke until 1912, when the divisional headquarters were moved to Tête Jaune. McKirdy became an assistant forest ranger in 1917 and remained in that capacity until 1940. After 1940, he became a forest fire look-out, first on Mount McLennan, Birch Island, and then on Tum Tum Mountain until his retirement at age 82 in 1956. In 1919 McKirdy married Margaret Waite (1900-1983), who had come from Vancouver to Swift Creek in 1918 as a schoolteacher. In 1923 he was appointed justice of the peace. Many descendants live in the Valemount area.

References:

  • Robson Valley Courier. Weekly newspaper published by Pyramid Press of Jasper from1969–88.
  • Yellowhead Pass and its people. Valemount, B.C.: Valemount Historic Society, 1984
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