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Christina Lake History


Prior to European settlement, Christina Lake was part of the region inhabited by the Sinixt First Nations group. Also known as the Arrow Lakes People, the Sinixt were an Interior Salish people whose territory stretched roughly from the Monashees to Kootenay Lake, from Revelstoke to north-east Washington. Christina Lake was an important fishing ground, as was the Kettle River around Cascade. Pictographs located at various points along the north-east lakeshore are evidence of these first inhabitants, and offer a tantalizing glimpse into a past that remains largely unspoken.

The lake was named after Christina McDonald, daughter of the fur trader Angus McDonald, who ran the Hudson's Bay Company station at Fort Colville from 1852-71. Fort Colville was established in 1825, and until its closure in 1871 it was a central fixture of the area. In 1865, the extension of the Dewdney Trail from Rock Creek to Wild Horse Creek provided early pioneers with the first route into the Christina Lake region that didn't require traveling through American territory. However, settlement of the Boundary didn't really begin until the late 1880s and early 1890s.







The Origin of the name for Christina Lake:

Source: Provincial Archives of BC "Place Names File" compiled 1945-1950 by A.G. Harvey from various sources, with subsequent additions

This area is named after Christina McDonald (1847-1926), daughter of Chief Factor Angus McDonald of Hudson Bay Company headquarters at Colville, who used to accompany her father and the brigade to Kamloops each year. (Her mother was Catherine McDonald, whose father was French Canadian, and whose mother was from the Perce Nez band). The brigade traveled the east bank of the Kettle River to Christina Creek, which was crossed 1/2 mile below Christina Lake. She acted as book-keeper for her father, carrying the records in a buckskin sack; the horses would be swum across the river and a raft built to carry the goods. One trip (June 1870 ?), the raft on which Christina was crossing this creek went to pieces and she was thrown into the rushing water along with the buckskin sack containing her father's HBC books and papers. She was carried down for some distance before being rescued, but when finally dragged ashore she still had hold of the satchel of books, thereby saving its precious contents. For this deed, the Council of Chiefs of the Colville Indians gave her and her heirs the sole right to trap and fish in the country tributary to this lake, hence her name for the creek and lake. (Rupert W. Haggen, BCLS, Origin of Place Names in Boundary District, 1945 manuscript).


BC's First Woman Shopkeeper:

Christina married James McKenzie, HBC clerk at Fort Colville who later operated a rival trading post adjacent to the HBC store at Kamloops, 1872. After her husband's death in 1873, Christina continued to operate the business, and proved to be a most competent businesswoman, cutting deeply into the trade of the HBC. Married Charles Williams in 1875 and moved to Montana, then to Idaho and eventually to Spokane, Washington, where she died in the winter of 1925-26. (from "First Woman Storekeeper in British Columbia", by M.S. Wade, Vancouver Province, 7 November 1926).

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office




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