Arrow Lakes

Feature Type:Lakes - Inland body of standing water. Plural of Lake.
Status:
Relative Location: Expansion of the Columbia River, between Castlegar and Revelstoke, Kootenay Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 50°11'00''N, 117°48'30''W at the approximate centre of this feature.
Datum: NAD27
NTS Map: 82K/4
Related Maps:
82E/16 82E/8 82E/9 82F/13
82F/5 82K/12 82K/13 82K/4
82K/5 82L/16

Origin Notes and History:

Unofficial, collective name for the two features officially named Upper Arrow Lake and Lower Arrow Lake.

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

Had been labelled "Cutsamin or Earbobs Lake" on R.H. Laurie's 1832 map, Fredonia or the United-States of North America. Labelled "Arrow Lake upper, lower", on Arrowsmith's 1832 map of British North America.

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

"We passed under a perpendicular rock, where we beheld an innumerable number of arrows sticking out of the fissures. The Indians, when they ascend the lake, have a custom of lodging each an arrow into these crevices. This is the reason why the first voyageurs call these lakes the Arrow Lakes". (Father Pierre Jean de Smet, Oregon missions and travels over the Rocky mountains in 1845-46; Provincial Archives' accession: NW970.7 S638)

Source: included with note

On October 19, 1826, while travelling south between Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes, Simpson passed "...The Arrow Rock, so named on account of a round hole in the face full of Arrows, said to have been fired at it by the Indians when practicing the Bow and Arrow before a war excursion." (Journal of Emilius Simpson; HBC Archives' accession B223/a/3 1826 Folio 39D-41)

Source: included with note

"On our passage up the Columbia to the Boat Encampment, the Brigade had a spell and a smoke at this place. I recollect the boats were right under a high & perpendicular wall of rock, and the arrows were embedded in holes or hollows some 30 or 40 feet above us in the boat. Mr. Duncan Finlayson asked me in chinook if I wanted the arrows. I told him yes; he took up his shot gun & fired, bringing a number of them down broken. [The arrows] were picked up by the men and given to me but before doing so I remember they were closely examined.....being old voyageurs and men of Experience in Indian Arrows, they took great interest to Endeavor to solve the question by what tribe or nation were those arrows made. They examined the kind of wood, the cut of the feathers & even the denew, the number of turns it took to secure the feathers, but experts as they were they had to give it up - they could not solve it satisfactorily. I recollect there was something said of a large war party of Lake Indians or Upper Columbia River Indians invading the Kutanays or Mountaneirs. They had defeated the Mountaneirs and had captured a large quantity of arrows & having no further need of them expended them in those holes to commemorate the action. I am sure the spot is at the Lower Lake. I have made several enquiries of miners, boat-men and others, and strange to say not one of them ever saw...[the arrows]. I then began to think that I was mistaken, however questioned Big head Edward the chief of the Lake Indians. He told me there was such a place, but not speaking [his] language I could get no further information." (letter from Ranald Macdonald to Malcolm McLeod, 29 December 1890, held in Provincial Archives [accession details not cited on BC name card] )

Source: included with note

In the days before Columbus was born, the 'Indians' of the west and east Kootenay were at continual strife. It was customary for the west Kootenay Indians to winter along the southern Columbia and to ascend the stream every summer, to the lakes where hunting was good. As the tribes in the Slocan were always on the alert for war, they had their scouts out on the Arrow Lakes to note when their enemies came up the river. One summer the scouts returned from the [Arrow] Lakes with news that a particularly large force of warriors were going up the river. So the Slocan tribes prepared for war and crossed the mountains in force to Nakusp. On embarking from their canoes at Nakusp (the bay behind the long point) they noticed signs of a great storm having passed. On proceeding up the lake for some distance they came upon the force of the enemy. But alas ! There were none to resist them, for the great storm had apparently come suddenly upon them and there was nothing left but a heaving mass of canoe wreckage and dead bodies. The Slocan Indians took this as a great favour from the great 'Manatoo', and in token of respect they fired all their arrows at the high rock off which they lay, and wrote inscriptions on the face of the rock. Because of the vast wealth of arrow heads that fell to the bottom of the lake that day, the Indians named it Arrow Lake. (Relayed by Richard Blyth, as told to him by Chief Louis Joseph, Burton.)

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

"...are so named from the fact that the natives, when they reached a certain perpendicular rock, used to shoot arrows into the face of the cliff deducing from the fact of the arrow sticking fast in a crevice or tuft of herbage, or falling back into the water good or bad luck, I have forgotten the exact superstition. The rock is situated on the left or eastern side of the lower lake near its outlet." ("Notes.... p.293)

Source: Anderson, James Robert; Notes and comments on early days and events in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon; manuscript, 1925 (Provincial Archives E/B/An 2)

The first voyageurs called these two lakes the Arrow Lakes after the Indian custom of lodging an arrow in one of the rock crevices on their way down the lake. If an Indian's arrow lodged in one of the rock crevices, he would have good luck; if (the arrow) fell down into the lake his luck would be bad.

Source: Akrigg, Helen B. and Akrigg, G.P.V; British Columbia Place Names; Sono Nis Press, Victoria 1986 /or University of British Columbia Press 1997

Note that Arrow Rock is labelled on Arrowsmith's 1859 map, and on Anderson's 1867 manuscript, in the vicinity of today's Deer Park Mountain, opposite Renata.

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