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Historic Grand Forks Survey Maps

British Columbia colonial and provincial surveyors were required, as they undoubtedly are now, to conform to departmental guidelines to conduct their surveys and to document their field work. A hundred years ago, they produced accurately scaled hand-drawn maps and handwritten notes to define boundaries or illustrate certain aspects of the terrain and pre-existing local infrastructure under their scrutiny. Textual reports, often seemingly a summary of field reconaissance, were also submitted to the Surveyor General on an annual basis, and many are available online today. For serious researcers, detailed hard-copy historic survey maps do apparently exist in the Provincial Archives and the archives of the Provincial Land Surveyors in Victoria, although they are somewhat difficult to access. Fortunately for casual researchers, a fair number of them do appear on the BC Gator web site, alongside the Crown Grant maps. This web page will focus on four maps of Grand Forks, estimated to be created between 1893 and 1897.

Grand Forks Townships 71 and 72

Two Provincial Surveyors, J.Burnyeat (Link) and J. Coryell (Link) played a hand in the survey of the Kettle Valley and Grand Forks in the 1890s. J.P. Burnyeat appears to have "run township lines and established quarter section posts in portions of Grande Praire" in 1891. And J.A. Coryell, in his report of December 1896, writes, "... the townsite of Grand Forks was surveyed early in this season, and a town of about 300 inhabitants has sprung into existence, representing the usual business interests, trades and professions of a mining town. Three additions have also been surveyed; having in view the developments of the mining interests during the past two seasons and the hope of early railway transportation".

All three maps shown above are credited to "The Colonist, Victoria, B.C.", although there is no indication as to what role it played in their production. The maps are not dated although there is some evidence, between all three, to suggest that Figure 01 may be the earliest. All maps are drawn to scale at 40 chains (a quarter section) to 1 inch, which would make the left map approx. 20x13 inches (50x33 cm) and the other two approx. 15x20 inches (38x50 cm).

The map at left (Figure 01) is a composite of several smaller individual plots including two split sections of the Grand Forks townsite, a survey of the North Kettle or Granby River, and the Kettle River and Boundary Creek area near Midway. Much of the townsite has been surveyed into quarter sections and most Crown Grant lots are identified by Grant Lot No., and their size in acres is shown in red. Each parcel is also dimensioned on all sides. There is other detail or labelling to indicate smaller streams, prairie, arable land, slope, timber, right of ways, wagon roads and trails, and occasional dwellings. But of particular note ... there is no evidence on this map of the township grid.

The centre map (Figure 02) is titled "Plan of Township No. 71, and as such, it includes an accurately drawn township grid, including sections with solid-lines and quarter sections as dotted-lines. It appears here, when looking at the Crown Grant parcels as a group, that they are aligned over an assumed 20 chain grid ... meaning that they are misaligned with the township 40 chain grid by 20 chains. Further research would be required to understand the reasoning for this misalignment. Surveyed parcels are nonetheless each labelled as in Figure 01. There are however new parcels of one half or quarter- section size located north of those in Figure 01. These additional parcels would indicate that Figure 02 would be a newer map. Only the western half of the townsite is shown here, although it extends beyond city limits westward to include the Spencer Hill and July Creek area.

The right-side map (Figure 03) is titled "Plan of Township No. 72. It includes the eastern half of the townsite and extends eastward into the current Nursery area along the Kettle River and northward into the current North Fork area to Sand Creek. The map is otherwise quite similar in size and detail to Figure 02.

A visual comparison of the two townships on this graphic reveals the progress of the townsite parcel surveys between 1893 and 1897.

(Figure 04) is a composite survey map extending eastward along the Kettle River beyond Grand Forks and the current Nursery area toward Cascade. Crown Land parcels are drawn and labelled as in previous maps, although the map itself does not include the Grand Forks townsite. Other plots include the Christina Lake region, the Similkameen and a few railway right of ways. The map substrate is clearly not the same as previous maps and the drawing medium is not apparently waterproof as there are numerous smudges and washy stains. It is otherwise richly detailed showing streams, trails, mining claims and other bits of information.