Tonquin Pass

Alberta-BC boundary. Pass
Athabasca River and Fraser River drainages
Headwaters of Tonquin Creek and Moat Creek
52.7167 N 118.3333 W — Map 83D/9 — GoogleGeoHack
Name officially adopted in 1951
Official in BCCanada
Tonquin Pass and Geikie Range from the North (Vista Peak).
Photo, A.0. Wheeler

Tonquin Pass is mentioned by surveyor Richard William Cautley [1873–1953] of the Alberta-British Columbia Boundary Commission in 1922.

“Tonquin Pass has no history, as far as your Commissioners are aware,” wrote Cautley’s associate, boundary commissioner Arthur Oliver Wheeler [1860–1945] in 1924. “The name, Tonquin, as applied to the valley and the part of it that constitutes the pass over the continental watershed, was given by the Geographic Board of Canada. It was conferred in commemoration of John Jacob Astor’s ship, the Tonquin, which in 1810 sailed from New York and founded Fort Astoria, a trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River.”

Leaving Astoria, the Tonquin sailed to Clayoquot to trade for furs, where the insolence of Captain Thorn so outraged the native Americans that they seized the ship and massacred all but three or four of the crew. These survivors, before escaping in the ship’s boat, lit a fuse leading to the Tonquin’s powder magazine. Some 200 local inhabitants were killed when the ship blew up.


  • Cautley, Richard William [1873–1953]. “Characteristics of passes in the Canadian Rockies.” Canadian Alpine Journal, Vol. 12 (1921–1922):117-123
  • Cautley, Richard William [1873–1953], and Wheeler, Arthur Oliver [1860–1945]. Report of the Commission appointed to delimit the boundary between the Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Part II. 1917 to 1921. From Kicking Horse Pass to Yellowhead Pass.. Ottawa: Office of the Surveyor General, 1924. Whyte Museum
  • Akrigg, Helen B., and Akrigg, George Philip Vernon [1913–2001]. British Columbia Place Names. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997. Internet Archive

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *