Muskwa 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 Fort Nelson River at Fort Nelson, Peace River Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 58°49'55''N, 122°32'36''W at the approximate mouth of this feature.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 94J/15
Related Maps:
94F/16 94F/9 94G/13 94G/14
94J/10 94J/11 94J/12 94J/13
94J/14 94J/15 94J/3 94J/5

Origin Notes and History:

"Muskwa River (not Sikanni River)" adopted in the 14th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 31 March 1915, as labelled on "Sketch map of Peace River District, North Eastern portion," 1913-14, by Major E.B. Hart, FRGS. About 104 miles long.

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

Labelled "Sicannie River" on Jorgensen's 1895 map of BC; labelled "Sikanni River" on BC Land's map 1A, 1912. Spelled "Musqua River" on BC map 1H, 1917.

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

"The only name which the Indians recognize is the Musquah. The custom apparently is for a separate band of the Sikanni Indians to hunt on [one and only one] of these rivers, and the rivers receive the names of the leaders in each band.....thus Musquah's River, Prophet's River, Sikanni Chief's River and Fantasque's River." (from report of Major E.B. Hart, who participated in 1912 Department of Lands' survey of the Liard River.) [notation on BC card indicates that Hart's report was published in 1913-14, with above-quoted text relayed in a letter received 3 January 1914, Surveyor-General files 6952 and 6952A, respectively]

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

Muskwa/Musqua....long believed to be the Cree word for "bear". However, George Behn, past Chief of Fort Nelson First Nation, says this is derived from the Slavey [Denedah] name Mah qua; he intends to speak with Elders to find out more... (information provided February 2003 by Sharon Soucie, local historian at Fort Nelson)

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

"This is the Cree Indian word for black bear."

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

Labelled "Rein Deer River" on 1831 map drawn by John McLeod, included in the Fort Simpson Journal - a log of daily events, 1831. [Hudson's Bay Company Archives, Microfilm IM 140, B/200/a/14 folios 3 to 14d.] "In 1876 an aboriginal man of the Thekanni (Sekanni) Tribe was trading furs into Fort Nelson. The Hudson's Bay Company clerk named him Musquash, which is the fur from the muskrat. (with no written form of their languages, aboriginal traders of the day were assigned names by the HBC to identify their trades & transactions in the Company's ledgers; typically, any recognizable aspect of clothing, physique or character inspired the selection of a name). By 1881 the trapper's name was being spelled Musquah in Company books, and in 1885 the Anglo-Saxon 'k' was introduced - Muskquah - signifying that earlier French-speaking interpreters at the Company's Fort Nelson trading post were giving way to English-speaking Scots. In 1888 the French 'qu' and the terminal 'h' were dropped, and the spelling became Muskwa. Because the trapping area of the Thekanni trapper Musquash/ Musquah/ Muskwa was the Reindeer River, the river became known amongst locals as Muskwa's River. He traded from there until around 1900." (extrapolated from information located and shared June 2013 by Anthony Kenyon, historian, author and longtime Fort Nelson resident; "History of the Liard Basin from 1790 to 1910" is the working title of Kenyon's book, to be published late 2013/early 2014.)

Source: included with note