PLACE NAMES: Adding ‘hot springs’ was a non-starter in Nakusp

In the 1980s and mid-2000s, there were movements afoot to change the name of Nakusp to Nakusp Hot Springs.

Nakusp is famous for its hot springs (seen here in a ca. 1940s postcard) but in 2005

One hundred twenty-ninth in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

Sometime in the 1980s a movement was afoot to change the name of Nakusp to Nakusp Hot Springs, following in the footsteps of other hot springs towns like Ainsworth, Harrison, Radium, and Fairmont. However, old-timers objected to the idea and it was abandoned.

In October 2003, then-mayor Bill Cowan resurrected the idea and sought input from residents.

“This is a good opportunity, as all the maps and brochures will be redone over the next few years because of the Olympics,” he said, pointing to potential tourism benefits.

Nearly a year later, a new committee appointed to oversee development of the hot springs was asked to gather public opinion on changing the village’s name.

In February 2005, Tad Derbyshire asked village council to consider changing the name. He presented a petition with 119 signatures and a letter of support from the Chamber of Commerce. But then-councillors Karen Hamling and Janis Dahlen called for the matter to go to referendum. It quickly became apparent that the nays outweighed the hays.

Be a Anton led a delegation to council to oppose the change and ask for a commitment that it be put to a public vote.

“Public outrage and the emergence of a counterpetition against a recent proposal that would see the Village of Nakusp change its name to Nakusp Hot Springs has led council to more fully explore the potential costs associated with such a decision,” the Arrow Lakes News wrote.

“While council had been generally receptive to the proposal, that support has now been tempered somewhat by public feedback questioning the need and motivation for the name change.”

Cowan said he wanted the public fully informed, but worried that a referendum could cause rifts in the community that “take a long time to heal.”

“What I look at is the two million or more vehicles passing the Highway 1 and 23 intersection at Revelstoke, not even noticing the Nakusp sign on the way by, yet put the words ‘hot springs’ after Nakusp and it will catch the attention of some,” he said.

An editorial in the Arrow Lakes News read in part: “For many people it seems, there is more than just the name of the village at stake in the recent proposal to change the name Nakusp to Nakusp Hot Springs. There are also historical issues and a debate as to what it is that defines the village itself as such an unique place. For others, the village’s very identity has been called into question.

“The debate has become, in part, a reflection and discussion about how the village perceives itself and how it wants to be viewed by others. A name can define a community, and for many it seems, Nakusp is more than just a hot spring.

“No issue in recent memory has stirred such a public and outspoken response. But a debate requires two sides, and those who support changing the name have been silent on the issue so far.”

The referendum results were beyond lopsided: eight in favour and 607 against. By contrast, when Ainsworth changed its name to Ainsworth Hot Springs in 1964, there was little fuss.

Previous installments in this series

Introduction

Ainsworth

Alamo

Anaconda

Annable, Apex, and Arrow Park

Annable, revisited

Appledale

Applegrove, Appleby, and Appledale revisited

Argenta and Arrowhead

Aylwin

Bakers, Birds, and Bosun Landing

Balfour

Bannock City, Basin City, and Bear Lake City

Beasley

Beaton

Bealby Point

Bealby Point (aka Florence Park) revisited

Belford and Blewett

Beaverdell and Billings

Birchbank and Birchdale

Blueberry and Bonnington

Boswell, Bosworth, Boulder Mill, and Broadwater

Brandon

Brilliant

Brooklyn, Brouse, and Burnt Flat

Burton

Camborne, Cariboo City, and Carrolls Landing

Carmi, Cedar Point, Circle City, and Clark’s Camp

Carson, Carstens, and Cascade City

Casino and Champion Creek

Castlegar, Part 1

Castlegar, Part 2

Castlegar, Part 3

Christina Lake

Christina City and Christian Valley

Clubb Landing and Coltern

Cody and Champion Creek revisited

Champion Creek revisited, again

Columbia

Columbia City, Columbia Gardens, and Columbia Park

Comaplix

Cooper Creek and Corra Linn

Crawford Bay and Comaplix revisited

Crescent Valley and Craigtown

Davenport

Dawson, Deadwood, and Deanshaven

Deer Park

East Arrow Park and Edgewood

Eholt

English Cove and English Point

Enterprise

Erie

Evans Creek and Evansport

Falls City

Farron

Fauquier

Ferguson

Ferguson, revisited

Fife

Forslund, Fosthall, and Fairview

Fort Shepherd vs. Fort Sheppard, Part 1

Fort Shepherd vs. Fort Sheppard, Part 2

Fort Sheppard, revisited

Fraser’s Landing and Franklin

Fredericton

Fruitvale and Fraine

Galena Bay

Genelle

Gerrard

Gilpin and Glade

Gladstone and Gerrard, revisited

Glendevon and Graham Landing

Gloster City

Goldfields and Gold Hill

Grand Forks, Part 1

Grand Forks, Part 2

Granite Siding and Granite City

Gray Creek, Part 1

Gray Creek, Part 2

Gray Creek, revisited

Green City

Greenwood

Halcyon Hot Springs

Hall Siding and Healy’s Landing

Harrop

Hartford Junction

Hills

Howser, Part 1

Howser, Part 2

Howser, Part 3

Howser, Part 4

Hudu Valley, Huntingtdon, and Healy’s Landing revisited

Inonoaklin Valley (aka Fire Valley)

Jersey, Johnsons Landing, and Jubilee Point

Kaslo, Part 1

Kaslo, Part 2

Kaslo, Part 3

Kaslo, Part 4

Kettle River, Part 1

Kettle River, Part 2

Kinnaird, Part 1

Kinnaird, Part 2

Kitto Landing

Kokanee and Keen

Kootenay Bay, Kraft, and Krestova

Kuskonook, Part 1

Kuskonook, Part 2

Kuskonook (and Kuskanax), Part 3

Labarthe, Lafferty, and Longbeach

Lardeau, Part 1

Lardeau, Part 2

Lardeau, Part 3

Lardeau, Part 4

Lebahdo

Lemon Creek, Part 1

Lemon Creek, Part 2

Lemon Creek, Part 3

Makinsons Landing and Marblehead

McDonalds Landing, McGuigan, and Meadow Creek

Meadows, Melville, and Miles’ Ferry

Midway

Mineral City and Minton

Mirror Lake and Molly Gibson Landing

Montgomery and Monte Carlo, Part 1

Montgomery and Monte Carlo, Part 2

Montrose and Myncaster

Nakusp, Part 1