Moose Lake

Lake. British Columbia: Expansion of Fraser River, Mount Robson Park
52°57’00” N 118°55’00” W — Map 83D/15 — GoogleGeoHack
Earliest known reference to this name is 1824 (Simpson).
Official in BC

Moose Lake was mentioned by Hudson’s Bay Company governor George Simpson in 1824 when, “to draw the Freemen further into the Mountain than they had been in the habit of going,” he proposed to place a winter establishment at “Moose or Cranberry Lake.” In the fall of that year, chief trader Joseph Felix LaRocque set out to establish the post as a replacement for the post at Smoky River, but was stopped by ice in the Athabasca River and built a post above Jasper House. No establishment was ever built at Moose Lake. On Arrowsmith’s 1859 map, Moose Lake appears as Lac L’Orignal. (“Orignal” is Canadian French for “moose”. Orignal comes from Basque oreina “deer” via orignac, the form that the Basque word took on in the Basque-Micmac pidgin used by the Micmac and visiting Basque fishermen and whalers. The European French term, élan,is a loan from Middle High German elend, which is ultimately related to the English word elk.

“Moose Lake is a fine sheet of water, about 15 miles in length, and not more than three miles in breadth at the widest point,” wrote Milton and Cheadle, who passed by the lake in 1863. “The scenery was very wild and grand, and forcibly reminded us of Wast Water. On the south side, the hills rose perpendicularly out of the water for perhaps 2,000 feet, beyond which was the usual background of rocky and hoary peaks. Over the edge of this mighty precipice a row of silver streams poured with unbroken fall, the smaller ones dissipated in mist and spray ere they reached the lake below.”

This name appears on B.C. Surveyor General Joseph Trutch’s 1871 map of British Columbia.


  • Simpson, George [1786 or 1787–1860]. Fur trade and empire. George Simpson’s journal entitled Remarks connected with fur trade in consequence of a voyage from York Factory to Fort George and back to York Factory 1824-25. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1931. UBC Library
  • Milton, William Fitzwilliam, and Cheadle, Walter B. The North-West Passage by Land. Being the narrative of an expedition from the Atlantic to the Pacific, undertaken with the view of exploring a route across the continent to British Columbia through British territory, by one of the northern passes in the Rocky Mountains. London: Cassell, Petter and Galpin, 1865. Internet Archive
  • Trutch, Joseph William [1826–1904]. Map of British Columbia to the 56th Parallel North Latitude. Victoria, B.C.: Lands and Works Office, 1871. University of Victoria
  • McEvoy, James [1862–1935]. “Map Showing Yellowhead Pass Route From Edmonton To Tête-Jaune Cache.” (1900). Natural Resources Canada
  • Smyth, David. “Some fur trade place names of the Yellowhead Pass: west of the summit to Tête Jaune Cache.” Canoma (journal of the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names), Vol. 11, No. 2 (1985)

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