Robert Merz recently shared some history behind Merz Road on Facebook. Originally built as a portion of the old Nazko Road, he said Merz Road was named to honour his grandfather and long-time Bouchie Lake resident Walt Merz. (Robert Merz Facebook photo)

Bouchie Lake residents record history with Rural Road Name Challenge

Residents explore and share origins of road names

  • Apr. 16, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Bouchie Lake has more history than meets the eye.

Residents of the rural community located approximately 15 kilometers west of Quesnel have taken to Facebook sharing what they know about the names behind local roads in what has been named the ‘Rural Road Name Challenge.’

“It seems like most of the documented history revolves around William Boucher, for whom the lake and community are named for, but there were many pioneer residents who contributed to the community,” Robert Merz said.

While some contributed in significant public ways, others, such as Merz’s grandfather, Walt, worked quietly in the background building a farm, a road and a home.

Walt Merz would serve the needs of freight wagons and other travelers on the Nazko Road after establishing a stopping house on his farm on Purser Creek, and in 1971 a road would be named in honor of him.

The B.C. Department of Highways chose to rename the Steve Johnston Road to Merz Road according to an article published by the Quesnel Cariboo Observer as it had been decided some time ago a new name was warranted “since a mile further up the Nazko Road another road went by the same name, owing to the fact that Steve Johnston had taken up residence there.”

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Robert said he came across that very article when he was looking up an unrelated matter through the online archives and thought it would be nice to write down what he knew about Merz Road and how it came to be.

“Most of the information about these pioneers is unrecorded, but there are still a number of people in the community that know the how, when and why,” he said, adding most of the information he learned about the road was word of mouth from his dad.

“The information I wrote is, for the most part, unrecorded prior to my writing it down for a community Facebook post. My grandfather ran a stopping house and the fact that the (Nazko) First Nation from the west had camped on the property from ages prior to him owning the land, and continued to do so while he owned it are only oral history, and if not written down will be lost very soon.”

After posting the story to Facebook, Bouchie Lake resident Heloise Dixon-Warren reached out to Merz, and from there the ‘Rural Road Name Challenge’ was born.

This poster is from 1957! Recently made its way back to Bouchie Lake, has been framed, and is now on display at the Bouchie Lake Country Store. <3 our community's stories.

Posted by Heloise Dixon-Warren on Sunday, March 14, 2021

In response to the challenge, Dixon-Warren shared a written researched response regarding Waccan Road off Barker Road on Bouchie Lake and just past the Bouchie Creek Bridge.

Waccan Road is in honour of William Boucher’s father, Jean Baptiste Boucher who was a Métis voyageur and worked for the Hudson Bay Company, Dixon-Warren wrote. He was admired by local First Nations, who called him ‘Waccan.’

Also taking up the “Rural Road Name Challenge” on Facebook was Mark Rawling, who explained the history of Rawling’s Road named after his family.

Merz said he would like to see continued interest in the challenge and had hoped it would get people sharing what local history they knew or could find out.

“As I mentioned before, much of the history is still out there saved in someone’s memory, and although some is already lost, it would be nice to document and share what we can while we can.”

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