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East Trail vs. Trail East

Updated: Jan 31

Here’s something that’s not confusing at all: the area across the Columbia River from Trail used to be split into East Trail … and Trail East.

Trail East was on District Lot 2919 and East Trail was part of District Lot 4598. The dividing line was Main Street, with East Trail to the east and Trail East to the west. Got it?

Trail East is seen at left on DL 2919, and East Trail at right on DL 4598. (iMapBC)

The first mention of either I can find was an ad in the Nelson Daily News of Oct. 27, 1915 for Trail East, seen below, taken out by the real estate firm of McQuarrie and Robertson. It read:

As we have been having a great many inquiries about our new subdivision we are pleased to announce that our surveyors state that they expect to have the work completed in a few days, and this splendid residential section of trail will be on the market very soon.

Ads for Trail East from Nelson Daily News of Oct. 27 and Nov. 20, 1915, as taken out by Mungo McQuarrie and Hugh Robertson, who offered lots for $10 down and $10 a month.

It’s no coincidence that the subdivision included McQuarrie Street and Robertson Street, parallel to each other.

The first mention of East Trail, meanwhile, is in the Daily News of Nov. 13, 1915, which noted Trail was experiencing a building boom.

Across the Columbia river, in the new residential district of East Trail white tents dot the ground and there a large number [of] other temporary dwellings which have been erected to accommodate the rapidly augmented population of the city. Steadily those places are being replaced with permanent houses …
The demand for residential property has resulted in the opening up of Trail East, a new subdivision where the survey has just been completed …

Why they were given such similar names, and why it was even necessary to make a distinction between them, is beyond me. Possibly McQuarrie and Robertson did not own the lots of East Trail, but if that’s the case, I don’t know who did.

Ad from the Trail News of May 28, 1920. Note the little swastikas in the corners, symbols that had not yet become widely associated with the German Nazi Party.

In 1924, residents of Trail East and East Trail petitioned to join Trail city limits. On March 25 of the following year, about 200 people cast ballots, with all but a few voting in favour. It helped cleared the way for construction of a new school, which was technically in East Trail but appears to have been known interchangeably as Trail East and East Trail school (later it was renamed Laura J. Morrish Elementary).

East Trail (or Trail East) school is seen at centre, ca. 1930s. The dividing line between East Trail and Trail East was Main Street. (Greg Nesteroff collection)

A further referendum followed in 1936 to add portions to the city not included the first time, by one description “that portion of East Trail and Trail East from Fourth Avenue to the foot of the benches” and by another “those sections of East Trail and Trail East between the present city limits and the foot of the hill behind East Trail [i.e. Shavers Bench] and the property north of Sandy Island park [today’s Gyro Park].”

That referendum also passed by a vote of 265 to 37.

That is the last mention I can find of Trail East. After that, it was all just considered East Trail, though I don’t know why. Trail East was actually the larger of the two.

Something comparable happened with the name of the federal riding that Trail East, East Trail, and the rest of Trail belonged to. Although the region was West Kootenay, the riding, created in 1917, was called Kootenay West (its counterpart was Kootenay East).

The name remained in use until 1987 when the riding became Kootenay West-Revelstoke. It was was flipped around in 1996 to become West Kootenay-Okanagan. Kootenay West made a comeback as a provincial riding, however, created in 2009.

A ca. 1920s postcard captioned “East Trail from Columbia Heights,” although it mostly shows Trail East. (Greg Nesteroff collection)

Updated Jan. 30, 2024 to add the ad from 1920.

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Love your stuff


Jun 27, 2022

Thanks for cleaning up the confusion, Greg. Well, some of it, anyway. The Trail East-East Trail name comes up in early editions of the Trail News as well. No doubt there was fierce rivalry on the ball diamond and at the hockey rink. Ron

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