West Road (Blackwater) River

Feature Type:River - Watercourse of variable size, which has tributaries and flows into a body of water or a larger watercourse.
Status:
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: Flows NE into Fraser River, between Quesnel and Prince George, Cariboo Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 53°18'38''N, 122°52'32''W at the approximate mouth of this feature.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 93G/7
Related Maps: 93C/14
93G/7

Origin Notes and History:

"Blackwater River (not Black River, nor West Road River)" adopted in the 6th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 30 June 1906. Name changed to West Road River 7 February 1947 on 93/SW. Form of name changed to "West Road (Blackwater) River" 4 March 1954 on 93C, to accomodate long-entrenched use of both names (file O.1.46).

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

Blackwater is a translation of the traditional name, derived from early native recognition that its many tributaries collect water from swamps and muskeg on the plateau, imparting a dye which stains the riverbed black ("Blackwater River", by W.Hillen, Toronto, 1971). West Road is the name given by Alexander Mackenzie in 1793. The feature is labelled "Black or West Road River" on Trutch's 1871 map of British Columbia; labelled "Blackwater or West Road River" on Dawson's 1875 geological map of BC between the Fraser River and the Coast Range.

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

[A notation on the BC name card indicates that BC Surveyor General J.E. Umbach and BC Chief Geographer G.G. Aitken jointly addressed a letter to the Geographic Board of Canada, dated 30 December 1929, presumably suggesting that Blackwater River be changed to West Road River. A copy of said letter can not been located in BC Geographical Names files.] 30 December 1929 and 2 January 1930 telegrams from J.E. Umbach, Surveyor General, to Quesnel and Prince George Boards of Trade, advising that British Columbia proposes to change the name Blackwater River to West Road River. Endorsement received from both groups (file C.1.34).

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

"Possibly the Geographic Board in 1906 did not thoroughly weigh the importance of preserving the name "West Road" river... To the Province this feature remains an historic land mark - a memorial of the first expedition to cross the Continent through British Columbia to the shores of the Pacific ocean - one of the finest achievement recorded in the history of the discovery and exploration of Northwestern America. With the utmost possible pressure, I urge.... the Geographic Board [to] revise their decision given in 1906. On behalf of the Province of British Columbia I request that the name Blackwater river be changed to West Road river. I sincerely hope that after due deliberation, the Geographic Board will issue a decision reversing their order of 1906, so that the original historic name will be restored." (16 January 1930 letter from John Hosie, Provincial Librarian & Archivist, to G.G. Aitken, BC Chief Geographer, file C.1.34).

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

"The name West Road River was submitted by the late J.E. Umbach, Surveyor General, and G.G. Aitken. The files bearing on this matter are in Ottawa. The name West Road River has appeared since 1930 on Dominion and Provincial maps, also in historical text school books. It is suggested that the matter be brought again to the attention of the Board." (12 August 1946 letter from BC to Surveyor General, Ottawa, file O.1.46) [see notation above]

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

Headwaters at 52 48 - 125 22 on 93C/14.

Source: Canadian Geographical Names Database, Ottawa