Lardo vs. Lardeau: battle of the townsites

One-hundred thirteenth in a semi-alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names.

While the origin of Lardo/Lardeau is shrouded in mystery, there was a battle for the right to use it between two similarlynamed towns: Lardo (or Lardo City) on Kootenay Lake, and Lardeau (or Lardeau City), on the northeast arm of Upper ArrowLake.

The latter was first mentioned in Revelstoke’s Kootenay Star on Aug. 13, 1892: “We hope the boys at the ‘Lardeau City’ willreturn the compliment we paid them on the 1st of July.”

Details of the townsite survey are unknown, but the plan was apparently deposited with the land registry on Dec. 2, 1892 byWilliam Harrington Ellis, editor and part owner of the Victoria Colonist. Ellis was also one of the principals of the Lardeau andKootenay Railway, which wanted to build a line that would connect Lardo and Lardeau, although nothing came of it.

James (Pothole) Kellie, MLA for the region, was another key Lardeau City booster.

The same month, Charles W. Busk surveyed the Lardo townsite. The streets were Lardo, Duncan, Kootenay, Dawson, Kaslo,Main, and South, while the avenues were numbered 1st through 6th. (Today only Main, Duncan, and Kootenay streets survive,along with 3rd, 4th, and 5th avenues.)

The town was first mentioned in the Nelson Tribune of Dec. 1, 1892: “C.W. Busk is surveying the Nagle-Davies townsite at thehead of Kootenay Lake and expects to have the job completed within two weeks. The town will be called Lardo and lots will beplaced on sale as soon as the survey is completed …”

(There might have been another town called Lardeau City too, judging from this item in the Spokane Review of Nov. 26, 1892:“At the confluence of the [Lardeau and Duncan rivers] a town has lately been platted and christened Lardeau City.” A.C.Pearson ran the Valley House hotel at this spot in 1893, which was otherwise known as Pearson’s or Garden Valley. The latteris first mentioned in the Kaslo Slocan Examiner of May 13, 1893 and the former in the Nelson Tribune of April 14, 1894.Meanwhile, the town of Ferguson was initially called Lardeau Forks, according to the 1897 Henderson’s BC directory.)

The towns ran into conflict when the Lardo townsite map was presented at the land registry in January 1893 and the registrarrefused to accept it because the name was too similar to Lardeau. The owners appealed to the courts, but the judge dismissedthe case: “I think the registrar is right in refusing to register a second map with a name identical in sound with another namealready on the register.”

Lardo’s promoters nevertheless found a way to register their townsite. Nor did the conflict deter both towns from applying forpost offices, first Lardo and then Lardeau.

BC postal inspector E.H. Fletcher supported the former’s application: “The population of Lardo is much larger and moreimportant than that of Lardeau and the former being the first in the field for a post office, should I think, have the advantageof their enterprise.”

However, Fletcher’s superiors would only authorize the post office at Lardo providing the name was changed. (They wereunder the mistaken impression an injunction had been issued preventing use of Lardo.)

Each town felt it had an exclusive right to the name and insisted it would be impossible to find an alternative. They begantrading insults. An editorial in the Lardo Reporter called Lardeau “a mathematical point on the Arrow Lakes, occupying positionbut no space [which] has not yet fulfilled its manifest destiny by becoming a sheep ranch …”

Lardeau criticized its rival’s geography: “Lardo claims to be entitled to the name because of its proximity to the mouth of theLardo River. It is some 35 miles form its mouth.” It also took out ads stating “The only Lardeau! None genuine without the‘deau’ in the name.”

MP John Mara was asked to intervene but decided to sit on the fence: “I unfortunately promised to support the application foroffices at both places, not knowing that the department would object on account of the similarity of names.”

Lardo’s promoters suggested “Lardo, Kootenay Lake” and “Lardeau City, Arrow Lake” would be distinctive enough, but the postoffice didn’t seem to agree.

Postmaster-general William White finally ruled: “The question of name must be settled by the parties themselves.” With neitherside willing to compromise, the matter remained unresolved.

In October 1893, E.H. Fletcher’s assistant visited Kaslo and inquired about Lardo: “He ascertained that the place is nowpractically deserted There is therefore no necessity for the establishment of a post office at Lardo during the comingwinter.”

Next: Lardo, Idaho

 

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