Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Like anything else, phone books and civic directories are obviously prone to mistakes. Still, I wonder how some of the following anomalies made it past quality control.
Occupations in early directories were rarely more descriptive than farmer, rancher, miner, or storekeeper, but this one snuck into the 1897-98 Williams listings for Waterloo (now lower Ootischenia): “Landis H B, the original inhabitant and godfather to the town.” Hiram Benjamin Landis (1868-1943), a native of Harrisburg, Penn., sold land to community Doukhobors in 1908 when they moved to BC from Saskatchewan. Waterloo became a ghost town.
Denoro’s lighthouse keeper
The 1910 Henderson’s directory listings for Denoro — a Boundary ghost town near Eholt — had J.A. McMillan as a “lighthouse keeper.” I assume that should read hotel keeper or innkeeper, but who knows? The nearest bodies of water are Wilgress and Bolduc lakes, neither of which was known for its marine traffic.
Secretary of Sproat
The community of Sproat, on the east side of Upper Arrow Lake opposite Sidmouth, was founded around 1916. It was presumably named after Mount Sproat, which in turn was named for Gilbert Malcom Sproat, an early surveyor and gold commissioner in West Kootenay.
A post office operated there from March 1, 1916 to Oct. 11, 1919 with Eustache Dupont as postmaster. (Some sources erroneously combine this office with the one at Sproat’s Landing, near present-day Raspberry. It was named after Gilbert’s brother Thomas.)
In 1918, a ferry was established, a school opened, and the community appeared in Wrigley’s BC directory as “a post office and station on the CP Railway, 23 miles south of Revelstoke and 5½ north of Arrowhead.”
The population was given as 150, but only 17 names were listed. One was “Pelkey, R.A. [sic] mixed farming and secretary Municipality of Sproat.”
Reuben Pilkey (1871-1947) must have pulled a fast one on the enumerator, for not only was Sproat not incorporated, it stood zero chance of ever attaining that status. In 1919 and 1920, 54 names were listed at Sproat, and Pilkey was listed as “farming sec municipality and Crawford Creek school bd.”
In Silent Shores and Sunken Ships, Milton Parent writes that “There was a very small structure on the east side [of the lake] used as a hall and then in 1928 the Pilkeys effected a strong feeling of civic awareness by renovating and stocking a building on the river side of the tracks at 24 Mile to serve as a store. Mrs. Pilkey was proprietor in charge, which left her husband Reuben to look after outdoor duties.”
By 1922, Sproat was still listed in the directory but with a notation “Arrowhead is the PO which see for names.” Starting in 1927, residents were listed under Sidmouth. The Sproat school closed, but reopened in 1934. Sproat continued to be listed in directories off and on through 1948, but whatever remained of the community was flooded out in 1968 by the Hugh Keenleyside dam.
Stanley vs. Nelson
Nelson was briefly known as Stanley in 1888, but the name was changed because there was already a place called Stanley in the Cariboo.
This confused the makers of Henderson’s BC directory, who in their 1889 edition said Stanley was “A mining town in the Toad Mountain District, 26 miles from Sproat’s Landing, nearest railway station Ashcroft, dis 275 miles.” The three residents they listed were from the Cariboo Stanley, not the Kootenay Stanley.
A separate listing for Nelson correctly described it as “a mining town on an arm on the Kootenay lake.” The only residents listed were merchants Hume and Lemon. Henderson’s competition, Williams’ BC directory, had Stanley listed correctly that year but only referred to Nelson in passing and didn’t include a separate entry.
The Rossland Summit’s phantom phone number
The Rossland Summit newspaper was only in business from 1992 to 1996. Yet ever since it has remained listed in the Telus phone book. Stranger still, it’s not actually under Rossland, but Trail, with the address of 1358 Cedar Ave. (now Century 21 Kootenay Homes). That was the office of the Summit’s sister paper, the Trail Champion, which lasted less than four months in 1995-96. The Summit was also still listed in the yellow pages through 2012, but I don’t have a more recent Trail/Castlegar phone book to confirm it’s still there.
From at least 1987 to 2001, some joker convinced BC Tel his name was Phillip Phukoff. He was included in the listings for South Slocan and gave his address as 1418 Highway 6, Crescent Valley — which today is the Frog Peak Cafe.
Lest you think this was an unusual but legitimate Russian name, no Phukoffs are presently listed anywhere in North America, although there are several Folkoffs and Fockoffs, as well as other dubious sounding names, like Peter Phacuf of Tampa and Tina Phuckoph of Portsmouth, Va.
Bob Lerch fills in part of the story:
Phillip Phukoff, not his real name, worked for me. He owned and did live at 1418 Hwy 6. At one time at that place you could get a take out meal. But back to Phillip, his nickname was Boots. Just wanted to be private and it cost extra to have an unlisted number so, in frustration, he made up the name. When Highways built the new Crescent Valley bridge they wanted a strip of his land, to realign Hwy 6. He said no, you have to buy the whole place, and they did. After the bridge was complete, Highways let the Crescent Valley Fire Dept. use the house for fire practice. After that it was sold, renovated and became a food place again.
Pictured below is the building as it appeared in October 2001.
The Jersey townsite, about 11 km southeast of Salmo, was born in 1947 and ceased to exist in 1973 when the Canex mine closed. All the buildings and equipment were auctioned off (although the community’s Olympic-sized swimming pool is still there.) Ever since, the Telus phone book has contained the notation “Jersey – See Salmo” or “Jersey … Salmo.” Actually, the notation is even older than that, for Jersey never did have its own section in the phone book. But the Salmo section of the 1971 edition listed 36 Jersey residents:
Anderson Clarence P.
Kinakn Harry W.
Lloyd Jack C.
McConnell John B.
O’Connell Patrick J.
Wilson Floyd D
There were also many listings for Remac, now a ghost town as well. It’s reassuring to know that if a time traveller from the past shows up in our era and needs to get hold of someone from Jersey, the phone book will point the way.
Updated on Oct. 19, 2021 to add more about Phillip Phukoff and the 2001 pictures of what is now the Frog Peak Cafe.