Kinbasket Lake

British Columbia. Lake: Columbia River drainage
Expansion of Columbia River behind Mica Dam
52.1333 N 118.45 W — Map 83D/1 — GoogleGeoHack
Earliest known reference to this name is 1866 (Moberly)
Official in BCCanada

This 260-kilometer long 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 former name still appears on many maps.

Kinbasket Lake is listed at the Indigenous Geographical Names dataset as a word of Shuswap language.


  • Moberly, Walter [1832–1915]. The rocks and rivers of British Columbia. London: Blacklock, 1885. Faded Page
  • Berton, Pierre Francis deMarigny [1920–]. The national dream: the great railway 1871–1881. Toronto: McLelland and Stewart, 1970
  • Akrigg, Helen B., and Akrigg, George Philip Vernon [1913–2001]. British Columbia Place Names. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997. Internet Archive
  • Wikipedia. Kinbasket Lake

4 thoughts on “Kinbasket Lake

  1. Janice Evans

    I am researching my genealogy. I am looking for any information on the following:

    A place of residence referred to as “Indians of Kroeaut” Kroeaut may be spelt Kroaeut or Kroeut.
    A male named “Tillilaskret” who has a daugher named Caroline, alias Kitty, Katie b. around 1835
    Married to a woman named Josette Larbatkoa

    I have a marriage certificate from 1885 for Caroline, alias Kitty, Katie. She was married a few times, to a Fred Dunbar, Henry Brainard, Frank Ouilette.

    1. Judy Banks

      Hello Janice,
      I am not sure if I can help you directly, but I may come up with some site leads, as I continue conducting genealogical and cultural research in the Columbia, Athabasca and Robson Valley regions, for Simpcw First Nation. I can tell you that we do have some records that show a consistency in the transmutation and phonetic spelling of names, similar to what you have included above. What this means is, who ever the clerk was to take these names down, was unable to find a linguistic equivalent for the glottal sounds heard in Secwepemctsin, so used the letter “r” in its place. If we were to use the example of the French pronunciation of “r”, which is lower in the throat and does not roll the tongue, you get a closer idea of the pronunciation for “Kroeaut”, “Tillilaskret”, “Larbatkoa”…the last name may be a transmutation of a French Canadian name, through an eastern language, possibly Assiniboine or Cree, and may actually be “Le’petkwa”. “Tillilaskret” may actually be “Tl’il’esq’et” or something similar, and “Kroeaut” may be “Quaaout”, etc. Quaaout is located on the east shore of Little Shuswap, some times called Jack Sam Bay. You will note that what has come down through transmutation as “Kinbasket” is actually “Kenpes’qt”, “Kamloops” is actually “T’kemlups”, and so on. What is significant about this, is that in other records, the names may be spelled in a variety of ways, depending on the linguistic education and experience of the clerk doing the writing, the first language of the interpreter doing the dictation, and the quality of the original document. Frank (Francois) Ouilette (or Ouellette) may be a member of one of the Hinton clans, or he may have come from Lac St. Anne. You may want to contact Little Shuswap, Neskonlith or Adams Lake Bands to see if they have records of any of the names (with the various spellings); similarly, you may want to contact Kinbasket Band as I seem to remember there being a number of northern Secwepemc who travelled with Kenpes’qt to what is now Invermere, and where the Indian Agents made them stay. Good luck and let me know how you do.
      Cheers, JudyB.

  2. Doug and Jennifer Ouillette

    I am searching the same lineage. We would like to contact Janice Evans and share information? Also if you found more information and are willing to aim us in a certain direction we would greatly appreciate it. “Larbatko and Tillibasket” are my husbands great great grandparents. Their daughter Caroline “Kitty” Saouta is the great grandmother.
    Email address


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