Snaring River

Alberta. River: Athabasca River drainage
Headwaters at Salient Mountain, flows E into Athabasca River N of Jasper
53.0139 N 118.0744 W — Map 083E01 — GoogleGeoHack
Name officially adopted in 1956
Official in Canada

Called “Snare Indian River” on the 1814 map of David Thompson [1770–1857].

“Snaring River” appears the 1865 map of the Palliser expedition [1857–1860]. Expedition member James Hector [1834–1907] says for February 9, 1859:

On the west side of the [Athabasca] river a tributary of good size joins it, called Snaring River, after a tribe of Indians that at one time lived here, dwelling in holes dug in the ground, and subsisting on animals which they captured with snares of green hide, in which manner they used to kill the big-horn, small deer, and even moose.

Walter Moberly [1832–1915] crossed Yellowhead Pass with Canadian Pacific Railway chief engineer Sandford Fleming [1827–1915] in 1872. He reported:

From a very old but active woman named Marguerite, whom I afterwards saw at Jasper House, I heard the following story: Many years ago, before the introduction of firearms in the mountains, there was a small tribe of Indians, who captured the mountain sheep, the wood buffalo, and the bear by snaring them, and had their principal residence on this river, which gave it the name of “Snaring River.” A party of Assineboines, who had obtained firearms from the traders in the east, invaded this little band, and shooting all the Indians, they carried off the women and children, and having skinned the dead Indians took their skins to trade with the whites, but the old lady was unable to inform me if they made a profitable trade with the skins.

James Grierson MacGregor [1905–1989] states in Overland by the Yellowhead:

At times, too, a few of the Carrier Indians from the area below McBride came in to trade and in small bands even lived in the Jasper valley. Judging from the information that Father De Smet has left, they were the same people whom the traders referred to as Snaring Indians. J. Shand-Harvey, an old forest ranger who entered the Jasper area in 1907, stated that the Iroquois told him that the Snaring Indians caught mountain sheep, bear and buffalo by snaring them. In any event, early in Colin Fraser’s sojurn in the valley (ca. 1835) the Indians who came crowding in from the east practically wiped them out in a massacre which took place near Jasper.

Roman Catholic missionary Pierre-Jean De Smet [1801–1873] crossed the Athabasca Pass in 1846.


  • Palliser, John [1817–1887], and Spry, Irene Mary Biss [1907–1998], editor. The papers of the Palliser Expedition 1857-1860. Toronto: Publications of the Champlain Society XLIV, 1968, p. 378. Internet Archive
  • Moberly, Walter [1832–1915]. The rocks and rivers of British Columbia. London: Blacklock, 1885. Faded Page
  • Canadian Board on Geographical Names. Place-names of Alberta. Published for the Geographic Board by the Department of the Interior. Ottawa: Department of the Interior, 1928. Hathi Trust
  • MacGregor, James Grierson [1905–1989]. Overland by the Yellowhead. Saskatoon: Western Producer, 1974. Internet Archive
  • Wikipedia. Snaring River

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