The Nelson Economist of Dec. 28, 1898 carried this ad for Sirdar. The town was soon renamed Creston.

The Nelson Economist of Dec. 28, 1898 carried this ad for Sirdar. The town was soon renamed Creston.

PLACE NAMES: Creston and Sirdar, Part 1

Creston was formerly called Sirdar, and Sirdar was formerly Creston. Or were they?

Continued from page 16

The earliest mention of both Fisher and Sirdar was on a Crows Nest Pass railway timetable dated Aug. 25, 1898 that also included Kitchener and Kootenay Landing. Kitchener, the sixth siding west of Cranbrook, was nine miles east of Fisher; Fisher, the seventh siding, was 15 miles south of Sirdar; and Sirdar, the eighth siding, was five miles south of Kootenay Landing. Fisher’s origin is unknown, but as a guess, it may have been after Sydney Arthur Fisher (1850-1921), Canada’s agriculture minister from 1896 to 1911, who introduced legislation to subsidize cold storage warehouses, to the CPR’s benefit.

Sirdar was the title of the commander-in-chief of the British-controlled Egyptian army, a position held by Lord Kitchener from 1892-99, who was thus honoured with two places on the same rail line. Or maybe three places, for the Nelson Daily Miner of Dec. 9, 1898 reported: “The CPR has changed the name of the new town of Creston on the CPR railroad to Sirdar in honor of General Kitchener.”

The following day, the Nelson Tribune added that the new town was at the eighth siding, and “Fred Little, who owns the prospective townsite, did not know where he was at for a while, but after consulting his library he found there was nothing libelous in the name Sirdar, which means ‘supreme,’ and he preferred it to Creston, which heretofore has meant nothing.”

Other accounts, however, suggest Little sold his land to the CPR on the promise the town be named Creston. There’s also a discrepancy over whether Creston was the seventh siding or eighth siding. Most secondary sources say it was the former, and the timetable mentioned above indicates this as well. However, contemporary sources seem to agree it was the eighth siding. And when C.J. Campbell applied for a hotel licence in early 1899 at what is now Sirdar, he referred to it as “No. 9 Siding, Crows Nest Pass Railway.”

The Daily Miner of Dec. 19, 1898 contained a story headlined “Sirdar booming” which described the fledgling town we now know as Creston: “The contractors, Messrs. Foley Bros, Larsen and Halverson, have fixed upon Sirdar as their main distributing point … Sirdar is situated about the middle of the construction work, and there the contractors have already erected three large warehouses adjoining the CNP Railway station, which is itself on the townsite. The sawmill there, owned by Messrs. Byers and Bigelow is turning out 16,000 feet of lumber a day … Seven hotels are in course of erection and five general stores are going up as well as a large number of smaller buildings.”

The same issue of the Miner carried the first ad for the Sirdar Townsite Co., George McFarland, agent. Similar ads in the Nelson Economist called Sirdar “The City of Kismet” and said it was “only 7 miles from the International boundary and is the Centre of the Goat Mountain Mining District, the richest in West Kootenay.”

But on Jan. 4, 1899, the ads were changed to read “Sirdar, now finally known as Creston (Fisher Station, CNP Ry)” while the company’s name became the Creston Townsite Co. On Feb. 23, Sirdar and Fisher were dropped from the ads altogether in favour of Creston. The Tribune of Jan. 26, 1899 noted “The station on the Crows Nest Pass railway now known as Fisher [will] soon be known as Creston.”

Next: Puzzling over the post office