Squamish

Feature Type:District Municipality (1) - A populated place with legally defined boundaries, incorporated as a district municipality under the provincial Municipal Act.
Status:
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: Head of Howe Sound, New Westminster Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 49°41'53''N, 123°09'21''W at the approximate location of the Municipal Hall.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 92G/11
Related Maps: 92G/11
92G/14

Other Recorded Names:

Squamish Dock

Origin Notes and History:

Squamish (Post Office) adopted in the 10th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 30 June 1911. Incorporated as a Village Municipality 18 May 1948. Re-incorporated as a District Municipality 15 December 1964, to be called District of Squamish.

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

Squamish Post Office was opened 1 July 1892, William Mashiter postmaster; closed or renamed Newport Post Office 1 September 1912; re-opened or reinstated as Squamish Post Office 1 May 1914.

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

In 1914, Pacific Great Eastern Railway sponsored a contest amongst school children, to find a name for their Howe Sound terminal. "Newport" was the winning entry, submitted by 28 children who later shared the $500 prize. However, Mr. D'Arcy Tate, vice president of PGER, made the final adjudication, and his preference for the name of the PGER terminal was "Squamish" - being the long-established name of the adjacent community (February 1914 and November 1966 letters, file S.3.51) "Squamish Dock" was identified in the 1922 PGER timetable - a locational description for the station here, as the track extended along a 1 mile wharf into Howe Sound; according to 1957 timetable, trains no longer travel to Squamish Dock and onto boats; all rail traffic is to North Vancouver, although the track here is still used as a siding for extra cars.

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

A c1980 notion on BC name card identifies "Keh Kait" as the traditional name for this site (source not cited)

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

The town and harbour are named after the river, which is in turn named for the First Nation people who have traditionally occupied this region and today call themselves the Skxwúmish. The river appeared as Squawmisht on an 1863 Admiralty chart, and many other obsolete spellings have been recorded, including Chomes, Whoomis, Skqo’mic, and Squohamish. The name has been translated as “people of the sacred water” (older interpretations usually give “strong wind” as the meaning). The Squamish area was first settled by Europeans in the late 1880s, and a small logging and agriculture gradually formed. About 1909 the owners of the Howe Sd & Northern Rwy, after secretly buying up large tracts of land, announced that Squamish would henceforth be known as Newport. Several years of townsite promotion and property speculation ensued; even the post office name was changed from Squamish to Newport Beach, 1912-14. When the BC government took over the railway in 1912 and turned it into the PGE, a competition was held for schoolchildren to suggest a new name for the terminus and growing village. Out of the 2,000 entries received, PGE vice-president D’Arcy Tate chose Squamish, and in 1914 the old name was reinstated; the $500 prize was split between 28 winners. Squamish today is a district municipality with a population of 14,000. Forest remains the dominant industry.

Source: Scott, Andrew; "The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names"; Harbour Publishing, Madeira Park, 2009, page 562.