George Craft is seen in front of the Needles Hotel

Needles took name from Arrow Lake sandspits

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

Needles, the western terminal of the Lower Arrow Lake ferry, was formerly known as The Needles, and was first mentioned in the Nelson Miner of Nov. 30, 1895, concerning two mining claims recorded by John D. McDonald and A.A. McPherson “at the Needles, Lower Arrow Lake.”

In an interview published in the Arrow Lakes News on June 19, 1958, Rose Wright explained the name’s origin: “‘Why do you and many old timers speak of Needles as The Needles?’ ‘Well, it was always The Needles in the old days, due to the long points that reached out into the lake. It is only in later years that it has been shortened to Needles.’”

Actually, the shortened version actually first appeared in the Miner a week after the long version debuted, also in relation to mining claims, but it wasn’t until the Fire Valley post office was renamed Needles on Oct. 1, 1906 that it became commonplace. Even so, the “The” stuck around for some time the Nelson Daily News of July 13, 1911 noted “Welford Beeton of the Needles came in last night …”

According to the BC Geographical Names database, Needles is the landing’s name, but The Needles is still the official name of the narrows, even though construction of the High Arrow Dam in the 1960s submerged both the sandspits and the community that grew up there.

A new Needles post office was established in 1908 and closed in 1968 upon the flooding of the Arrow Lakes. Today the only thing left of the old community is its cemetery.

In 1910, A.H. Green surveyed what’s now Fauquier, on the east side of the lake, but the map called it Needles Ranch, a name by which it had been known since at least 1905.

According to Just Where is Edgewood, a place between Needles and Edgewood was known as McKallister’s Landing, after “the land agent who settled the townsite of Needles.”

No contemporary examples have been found of this place name and it’s not known exactly who its namesake was, although he was apparently still in the area selling property as of 1911.

The late Bill Laux said McKallister’s (or McAllister’s) Landing was the site of the original Fire Valley post office, which opened in 1894. Later, the CPR called this place Page’s Landing after William Henry Page (1861-1933), an English miner who came to the area from Butte, Mont. around 1893 and served as Fire Valley postmaster from 1908 to 1910.

Just Where is Edgewood (which erroneously calls him Walter Page) describes him thusly: “[H]e lived on the lakeshore between Edgewood and Needles He had been married at one time but his wife never moved to the valley. He was always referred to as Captain Page and often took the part of Santa Claus in the early Edgewood years. He was a fat, jolly type of person.”

He was among the first burials at the Needles cemetery, although his grave is unmarked. A mountain ridge was supposedly named for him as well, but it’s no longer on the books.

Page’s Landing was first referred to in the Revelstoke Kootenay Mail of Sept. 26, 1902: “The scene of the new strike is only 16 miles from Page’s Landing, on Arrow Lake …”

It was only ever mentioned a few more times.

 

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