Park Rill, Park Rill Creek and more
I assumed that the name of the “creek” was Park Rill and have referred to it as Park Rill Creek. I suspect this applies to many other locals.
However Gerry Robert’s comment inspired me to do a little research on this place name. Local geographic features were often given French names by the employees of the North West and later the Hudson Bay companies as they travelled on the Okanagan Brigade Trail from Fort Okanagan to Kamloops. This trail followed a series of trails that the Syilix people had been using for hundreds of years. A location downstream from the Twin Lakes area was referred to as “Parc” on an 1871 map. This has been interpreted as corral, pen or campsite, in the version of French spoken by the fur traders at the time and it is believed it refers to regular overnight camp for the fur brigades. The watercourse was identified as “Park Rill” in an 1867 map. The B.C. Government Geographical Name website notes that rill is an old term for steam or rivulet derived from the Dutch ril or Low German rille. This website and topographic maps refer to the watercourse as Park Rill while neighbouring streams are referred to as Horn Creek, Kearns Creek and McCaig Creek.
This is a somewhat similar situation as the Testalinda / Testalinden controversy. For over 100 years locals have called it Testalinda Creek but for historical and administrative reasons the Government has formalized the Testalinden name.
The 1871 map also shows Park Rill as flowing into Chutes Lake between what we now know as Vaseux Lake and Osoyoos Lake. Chutes Lake must be referring to Tuc El Nuit Lake, which is located downstream from the point where Park Rill currently flows into the Okanagan River. I suspect that in those times, long before channelization of the river and with a higher overall water table, much of the land north of Tuc El Nuit was a permanent marsh that could have been considered an extension of the lake. Wm. Schoonover who herded cattle on the meadows around Chutes Lake for J.C. Haynes, tells of cabins in the vicinity and of a small settlement of people of French origin, who also herded cattle. Chutes may have been the name of one of these settlers.
It seems that all of our geographic features have had multiple names over the years. Original names were assigned to them by the local Syilix Nation. Many of these names were modified by early Europeans but still reflect their Syilix origin. Others received new names. Park Rill has also been called Myers Creek and Myerswest Creek. Kearns Creek was Vasu R. Vaseux Lake has been called Swan Lake and Lake Vasu. Testalinda Creek has had many names, one of which was Tea River.
The fur traders did not seem to use the word “creek” as they called many of the streams flowing into the Okanagan watershed, riviere or river. I wonder if the use of the term “creek” became more common as American miners and immigrants began to move into our area.
Perhaps we just have to accept that a geographical feature can have multiple names. That appears to be what history is telling us. The government can have one name for administrative purposes and individuals can use whatever name they like (as long as they are understood).
Another interesting historical note is that apparently in the early 1800’s the water table was much higher than it is now and Twin Lakes was actually one lake, named Horn Lake. This lake was fed by Horn Creek which flows into it from the south-west. In seasons with extremely high water, Horn Lake apparently drained into the Park Rill system. In recent years I believe government authorities have actually pumped water from the Twin Lakes basin into the Park Rill drainage despite the much lower water levels.
The 12th, 22nd, 33rd Okanagan Historical Reports
The Okanagan Brigade Trail 1811 to 1849 by Bob Harris, Harley Hatfield, Peter Tassie.