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Beavervale and other oddities

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

I did a double take recently while driving along Ross Spur Road between Fruitvale and Salmo. I spotted a newish sign that read “Beavervale Road.” Follow it and a little bridge takes you across Beavervale Creek.

In my long series on local place names, there were a few elusive places I never got a good handle on. One was Beavervale, aka Beaverville.

Obviously it was somewhere in the Beaver Valley, but I didn’t know exactly where. There were but four references to it, all in the Nelson Daily News.

Aug. 6, 1908: Arrivals at the Madden Hotel include C. McLaughlin, Beavervale.
Feb. 27, 1911, under a Fruitvale dateline: “C.C. Ladd of Beavervale was in the valley this week.”
May 20, 1914, under a Fruitvale dateline: “A. Larsen, government road foreman, moved a road crew in from the government trunk road at Beaverville Monday to widen out the bridle path at the end of the Fruitvale trail cutoff, as it was very dangerous for teams …”
March 4, 1919: Arrivals at Hume Hotel include S.A. Jackson of Beaverville.

Beaverville and Beavervale could have been different places, but I suspect they were the same. It was never a town, but it was at least a locality.

A glance at the civic directories for the 1910s shows no listing under either name, although Beaver siding, the old name for Fruitvale, was still listed as of 1918.

I looked for other mentions of C.C. Ladd. In the early 1900s, he was prospecting at Erie. From 1915-18, he was postmaster of Benton Siding, between Meadows Junction and Fruitvale. The post office closed after he quit and no one could be found to take his place. He was also a Benton Siding school trustee. Benton Siding, first mentioned in 1914, later became Ross Spur.

So Beaverville/Beavervale seems to have been an old name for what’s now Ross Spur.

I wasn’t previously aware of Beavervale Creek, but the BC Geographic Names website indicates that it was labelled as the north fork of Beaver Creek on a 1912 map. The name Beavervale Creek was suggested in 1924, appeared in a Minister of Mines report the following year and on a map in 1929 and was finally officially adopted in 1932.

Warfield police department

If you’re familiar with the history of Trail’s Tadanac neighbourhood, you’ll know it once had its own police department. Tadanac was incorporated in 1922 as a Cominco-owned district municipality that included the smelter and an adjacent residential area. (It was widely believed to be a company tax dodge.) The police department was essentially the company’s private security force. It survived until Tadanac and Trail amalgamated in 1969.

But did you know Warfield had its own police department as well? It was also a Cominco-run force and provided security for the fertilizer plant. The only reason I know of its existence is because of social notes in Jim W. Little’s “Pounding the beat” column published in Cominco Magazine in the early 1940s.

Little identified Reginald Healy as the chief of the Warfield department. Officers included Leo Lawlis, James DeBalinhard, Jimmy Shellard, Ted O’Neil, Bob Latham, George Brewer, men named Moffit, Thorington, and McDonnel, and possibly Alfred Waugh and Alex Jacobs (it was unclear if they were part of the Warfield or Tadanac force).

This makes it sound like the Warfield police department was much larger than it really was. In fact, turnover was high in this era due to men enlisting for World War II. It’s not clear if the Warfield police also attended to the adjacent residential areas or just stuck to the plant.

I don’t know when the force was created, but it probably would have been in the early 1930s, when the fertilizer plant was built. I don’t know when or why it disbanded either. I suspect it was long gone by the time Warfield incorporated as a village in 1952. But did it provide security for the Project 9 tower, Cominco’s effort during World War II to create heavy water for the atomic bomb? Unclear. The last reference I can find, to a hearing in “Warfield police court,” is from 1942.

Finally, it occurs to me that from 1922-25 there were five different police forces in Greater Trail. Not multiple detachments of the same force, but entirely separate ones. To wit: the Tadanac Police, the Trail Police (established 1901 by the City of Trail, replaced by the BC Provincial Police in 1949 and by the RCMP the following year); the Rossland Police (established 1897 by the City of Rossland, replaced by the BC Provincial Police in 1925 and by the RCMP in 1950); the BC Provincial Police (which had its own officers stationed in Trail and Rossland to police the neighboring rural areas) and the RCMP (which established a detachment at Trail in 1920 to enforce federal laws).

It must have been a jurisdictional nightmare, although even today multiple forces work independently (but one hopes collaboratively) in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island.

Kelleys Elementary

From 1961-64, the Nelson school district’s capital planning document included a “Kelleys Elementary.” This school was never built, at least not under that name, but where was it supposed to go and how did it get its provisional name? I have no idea. No one named Kelley was listed in the Nelson civic directory during that period, although the school could have been intended for the Salmo area or somewhere else.

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Mickey Nazarov
Mickey Nazarov
Oct 09, 2022

Hi Greg:

Enjoy reading your writings of the history of our area. While reading the part about Trail Tadanac, wondering how many people know that the spelling of the word Tandanac is "Canada"spelt backwards with the "T" added. Not sure whether the T is for Trail or something else

Greg Nesteroff
Greg Nesteroff
Oct 10, 2022
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