Headwaters of Smoky River
53°35’45” N 119°34’41” W — Map 083E12 — Google — GeoHack
Name officially adopted in 1957
Official in Canada
Adopted in1945 as labelled on BC map 1H, 1917, and as identified in the 1930 BC Gazetteer.
Coordinates of mouth adjusted 3 June 1974 on 93O/3, because of flooding of Williston Lake.
The name of the river comes from the abundance of cow-parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) growing on its banks.” <(a title="Wikipedia" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Macoun">John Macoun, quoted in the report of N.B. Gauvreau, CE, 1891).
R.M. Patterson mentions the “almost tropical growth of the giant cow parsnip from which the river gets is name.” He found this growing up to 7-feet high and says “the din of the rain on the huge leaves was like the rush of a tremendous wind”.
This plant is sometimes called “Indian Rhubarb” since the native Americans eat the petioles or leaf-stalks.
Founded as a trading post by Simon Fraser of the North West Company in August 1806. It was referred to simply as Stuart Lake post until 1822 when it became Fort St. James. The reason for the new name is not known.
Hudson’s Bay Company governor George Simpson, visiting here in 1828, described the post as “the capital of Western Caledonia.” It was in fact the administrative centre for the Hudson Bay Company’s department of New Caledonia. The original buildings have all disappeared, but the local people are making a commendable effort to preserve the three surviving buildings which date from the late nineteenth century.
Labelled “Fort James” on Trutch’s 1871 map, presumably a mistake.
Fort St. James Post Office was opened 1 May 1899, seems to have closed the following year then re-opened 1 May 1905.
The Dakelh (Carrier) name for this point at the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser Rivers was “Thle-et-leh” meaning “the confluence”.
By 1892, Canadian Pacific Railway surveyor James Adams Mahood [d. 1901] had cut a trail past Indianpoint Lake on his way to Tête Jaune Cache, where he was to meet Alfred Richard Cecil Selwyn’s Thompson River party, but a few months later the CPR chose a route far to the south and the trail fell into disuse.
After James Adams Mahood, land surveyor, who died in 1901. Mahood conducted a CPR survey party along the shore of the lake in 1872.
By the next year James Adams Mahood, a CPR surveyor, had cut a trail past Indianpoint Lake on his way to Tete Jaune Cache, where he was to meet Selwyn’s Thompson river party, but a few months later the CPR chose a route far to the south and the trail fell into disuse.