Death Rapids

Feature Type:Rapids - Fast-flowing section of a watercourse, usually with turbulent water or exposed rocks.
Relative Location: In Columbia River opposite Downie Peak, N of Revelstoke, Kootenay Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 51°31'00''N, 118°30'00''W at the approximate centre of this feature.
Datum: NAD27
NTS Map: 82M/10

Origin Notes and History:

Death Rapids adopted 12 December 1939 on Glacier National Park sheet, as labelled on BC map 1EM, 1915, and on Geological Survey sheet 237A, Big Bend Area. This feature on the Columbia River was submerged under Lake Revelstoke in the 1970's. Name rescinded 3 April 1986 on 82 M/10.

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

Dalles des Morts [mis-spelled "Dalle de Mort" on Trutch's 1871 map of British Columbia.] The French form originated with NWC voyageurs in 1817, when seven men were wrecked here and all their food was lost. They began walking along the river hoping to reach Spokane House, the nearest establishment, over 300 miles away. High water forced them up into the almost impenetrable forest. One by one they died, the survivors resorting to cannibalism. The last one was found by Indians on the shore of Upper Arrow lake and was taken to Kettle Falls, whence he was conducted to Spokane House. His story that he had killed his last companion in self defence was not believed, and he was dismissed from the NWC service, escaping more serious punishment owing to lack of evidence against him. (from Douglas of the Fir: A Biography of David Douglas, Botanist, by A.G. Harvey; Harvard University Press, 1947, p.110)

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

The old Dalles des Morts of the fur traders, one of the most dangerous stretches of the Columbia River route to Athabasca Pass. The worst of the many disasters here occurred in 1838 when twelve persons were drowned, among them the young botanist Robert Wallace and his bride, a daughter of Governor Simpson of the H.B.C. (Akrigg, British Columbia Chronicles, 1777-1846, p.166)

Source: included with note

"In 1817 a party of seven Nor'westers was sent back to Spokane House [from Boat Encampment] because they were too ill to traverse the Rocky Mountains with the rest of the party. Their canoes and provisions were lost at the rapids here. Without supplies, they proceeded on foot very slowly, as they were weak and had only water for sustenance (there being no berries at this time of year). On the third day, the first man died and his remains were eventually eaten by the survivors. This continued until only two men were left, La Pierre and Dubois. Only La Pierre was found alive and he maintained that Dubois had attempted to kill him, but he had succeeded in overpowering and killing him in self defence. La Pierre's story was doubted, but he couldn't be convicted on the evidence." (from Adventures on the Columbia River by Ross Cox; London, 1831; vol 2, p.184-84) See also The Kootenays in Retrospect, vol 1: Columbia River Chronicles, Edward Affleck, editor, 1976.

Source: included with note