Horsethief Creek

Feature Type:Creek (1) - Watercourse, usually smaller than a river.
Status:
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: Flows E into Columbia River just below (north of) Invermere, SE of Golden, Kootenay Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 50°34'34''N, 116°03'33''W at the approximate mouth of this feature.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 82K/9
Related Maps: 82K/7
82K/9

Origin Notes and History:

Adopted in 15th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 31 March 1917, labelled on Jorgensen's 1895 map of British Columbia, and on BC Lands map 1EM, 1915, etc. Re-approved 3 February 1954 on Columbia River Basin manuscript 48.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

The headwaters channel of Horsethief Creek was labelled "Slade Creek" on BC map 1EM, 1915. Origin/significance of "Slade" not recorded.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

"Horsethief Creek received its name from the exploits of an American and a Swede who, in 1885 it is said, rustled some ponies from a whiskey peddler. They were taken up to Fort Steele where, in the spree that ensued, the alleged thieves were discharged." (excerpt from "The Purcell Range of British Columbia" by J. Monroe Thorington; American Alpine Club, 1946; p.9.) See also Ta Ta Creek.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

"...in 1883 a horse thief was pursued up this creek and caught, and subsequently discharged by the magistrate at Wild Horse Creek [Fort Steele] as he was 'a little off' mentally..."

Source: Provincial Archives' Place Names File (the "Harvey File") compiled 1945-1950 by A.G. Harvey from various sources, with subsequent additions

"Three horsethieves were captured here in the last century."

Source: Akrigg, Helen B. and Akrigg, G.P.V; 1001 British Columbia Place Names; Discovery Press, Vancouver 1969, 1970, 1973.

See Ta Ta Creek. "Although I've gleaned quite a bit on Red McLeod's lawbreaking from the newspapers, I'm increasingly convinced [that] Red might hold some kind of record for having the most place names wrongly associated with him. Various sources state McLeod Creek, McLeod Meadows, Horsethief Creek, and by extension Horsethief Falls were named for him but in each case closer examination seems to rule this out, or at least cast serious doubt. For instance, Horse Thief Creek [sic] appeared in the 1890 BC Mines Report, fully three years before Red McLeod supposedly arrived in British Columbia." (October 2007 advice from Greg Nesteroff, historian). ["The country between this part and Horse Thief Creek has been but little prospected. In this latter locality, and on Toby Creek, very promising new discoveries were made last season and a number of claims recorded." (BC Mines Report, 1890, p.374).]

Source: included with note

"Yes, he was a genuine Horse Thief and we followed his trail for over 100 miles. But we never caught up with him! Hence it may be well to advise the expectant reader, at the very outset, that this tale is utterly barren in respect to those exciting episodes in which six-shooters are wont to play a prominent part, ending with a limp figure strung up a tree. There were two reasons why we never caught up with the Horse Thief. First, he had 20 years the start of us; and secondly, we hadn't the remotest interest in the Horse Thief himself, even if at any time we had been close upon his heels; but we were tremendously interested in his trail... We were told that some score of years previous, after gathering his four-footed plunder, he had gone up the valley and then turned westward into one of the side canyons, intending to take his horses over the mountains and down into Montana. But on reaching the head of the canyon he found his way barred by lofty mountains, hung with tremendous glaciers. Caught in this cul-de-sac, he was easily apprehended by the officers of the law, who dealt with him according to his desserts and restored the horses to their rightful owners. Ever since, the stream which flows through the canyon by which he sought to make his escape has been known as Horse Thief Creek...." (excerpt from "On the Trail of a Horse Thief," by Herbert W. Gleason; published in National Geographic magazine, April 1919, pp.349-- ).

Source: included with note

"Mention of Horse Thief Creek recalls an incident of frontier days reminiscent of the '80s and has been recorded by various writers.In early days, it appears a man was accused of stealing a horse or horses from a packer named Jim Kane. Some raconteurs claim that the animals in question were those which had formerly belonged to a man named Baird who had been murdered by a notorious character, Bull Dog Kelly, during main line construction days. Be as it may, the thief was chased up this stream, caught, and evidently the posse into whose hands he fell were all for hanging him. However, the authorities came to his rescue and took him to Wild Horse camp where Kelly, the magistrate, acquitted him. Then the mob, under Tom Wright, the Wolfer of the Plains, undertook to lynch the magistrate. Happily, wiser counsel prevailed and Kelly got off with no more than a ducking in Wild Horse Creek." (This Was the Kootenay, Clara Graham: Evergreen Press, Vancouver, 1963, p. 64-65; excerpt located and contributed August 2009 by Greg Nesteroff, historian)

Source: included with note