THE RE-REMANING OF LAKE JOAN

Charles Helm

Following a long and convoluted saga, an important historical name in the Tumbler Ridge area has been successfully restored: Lake Joan.

In 1937 ?Lake Joan?, near Kinuseo Falls, was named by Ted Chambers, one of the four members of the Trailblazer Crew for the Monkman Pass Highway. He named it for his tiny infant daughter Joan, who at the time could fit neatly into a shoe-box.

Joan (now Joan Jones of Beaverlodge) and her brother Dale Chambers have taken an abiding interest in the Monkman story over the years. In the 1980s well-meaning individuals proposed the formal naming of some of the features identified or named by the Monkman Pass pioneers. One of these was ?Lake Joan.? These submissions were rejected, partly because Monkman Provincial Park was in the process of being proclaimed and such naming was not considered appropriate until the park was formally established.

In the mid 1990s Tumbler Ridge?s Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society (WNMS) took an active interest in such naming, and revised and resubmitted this submission, along with many others. This time BC?s Geographical Names Office accepted the submissions and the names, including Lake Joan, became official.

There was just one problem. Joan and a few other knowledgeable folks from the Beaverlodge area realized that the lake identified as Lake Joan in the 1980s submission, and resubmitted by WNMS in the 1990s, was not actually the real Lake Joan after all. The magnificent photo album by Ted Chambers, which is one of the most precious legacies of the Monkman Pass era, provided incontrovertible text and photographic evidence.

The lake was stated to be under a mile from Kinuseo Falls, and the photographs showed the lakeshore and surrounding hills, as well as a falls (?Canary Falls?) on the creek that flows into it. It was clear that this was what has been marked on more recent maps as

Jade Lake, presumably because of its colour. A trip to the area was arranged with camera in hand, and the combination of new and old falls photos and lake photos proved this conclusively.

Rob Bressette of BC Parks was consulted, and was in favour of restoring the older, historical name of Lake Joan. He supplied an important letter that accompanied the new submission that was sent to the Geographical Names Office, along with the supporting photos, and a letter of explanation as to how the misunderstanding had occurred. After some months the reply was received, and the correct ?Lake Joan? has now been restored (the previous, incorrect one has been rescinded).

Lake Joan is a most attractive lake, inside Monkman Park, and a short (but steep in places) hiking trail leads past Canary Falls to its tranquil shores, where moose and other wildlife are frequently seen, and the fishing is reputedly good. One of the few sulphurous springs in the area emerges at the foot of a cliff and trickles into the lake. In the 1930s there were reports of spontaneous bulges and upheavals on its surface, and it was postulated that an underwater erupting source was responsible.

One of the most touching and rewarding moments I have experienced in a long time was when I was able to call Joan Jones, and let her know that the name of ?her lake?, named by her father over seventy years ago during his heroic journey, had officially reverted to the original. Her genuine joy and appreciation were tangible.

Monkman Provincial Park has been through hard times in the past eight years, with limited funding. The creation of the Monkman Pass Memorial Trail is about to change this, and will provide Tumbler Ridge with another world class attraction. Places like the Stone Corral and Lake Joan will add to the magical experience that will now be available to visitors and residents who make the journey to Kinuseo Falls and beyond.