Klahowya

Klahowya Mountain, southeast of Mount Findlay

Klahowya (kla’-how-ya): standard greeting in the Chinook jargon at meeting or parting, “How do you do? Good-bye.”

The stern-wheel steamboat Klahowya was launched from Golden in 1910 by George Rury for the Columbia River Lumber Company under the management of Captain Francis P Armstrong.1 She measured 92 feet (28 metres) long and 19 feet (5.8 metres) wide. The Klahowya replaced and used machinery from the vessel the Isabella McCormick.2

The Klahowya, Windermere Valley Museum and Archives, C72.

Origins of the Name

The name ‘Klahowya’ was a well-known word from the Chinook jargon as a standard greeting meaning hello or howdy, and also a parting meaning good-bye.3 The Chinook jargon language was a pidgin trade language used in the Northwestern United States and British Columbia. It took elements from different languages and combined them with simplified grammar to allow for communication between people who didn’t share a common language. In 1910 British Columbia, even many who were not fluent in Chinook would have likely heard and known the meaning of ‘klahowya.’

Construction

The Klahowya’s framework was constructed in New Westminster, then shipped to Golden where it was completed on the ice of the Columbia River. This novel construction method involved building blocks and a platform on the ice and constructed the boat on tip. Once the boat was completed, the square of ice on which the boat and supports rested was cut away so that the boat could glide smoothly into the water. 4 Unfortunately, I was unable to find any primary source record documenting the success of this technique.

Operation

The Klahowya was built as a tourist vessel, and she was in operation by June 1910 for a tri-weekly service between Golden and Windermere with a capacity of between 75 and 100 passengers. 5

As it was intended for day use only, the Klahowya wasn’t fitted out with overnight cabins, and instead held two well furnished saloons, a promenade deck, and a buffet, “where a colored waiter is in constant attendance to serve hot tea and coffee or a dainty luncheon.”6 This is one of very few instances recording the presence of a Black Canadian in the Windermere Valley: unfortunately his name is not included and beyond his presence on the Klahowya little more can be said about him. It is worthwhile noting that Black people were not welcomed to the Windermere Valley as settlers. Although the Europeans visiting and settling in the Valley were happy to be served by a Black waiter on a steamboat, only settlers with white European backgrounds were welcomed as permanent residents.

The Klahowya served as the dominant steamboat running between Golden and Windermere from 1910 until 1915, when the last spike was driven for the Kootenay Central Railway. No longer necessary to bring goods and people up and down the valley, the Klahowya was dismantled and her machinery shipped to The Pas, Manitoba.7

Windermere Valley Museum and Archives, A1071.

Legacy

Klahowya Mountain, located southeast of Mount Findlay in the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, is one of a group of mountains in that area named after steamboats on the Columbia River. It likely received its name at the suggestion of James Monroe Thorington in the 1940s.

See Also

Captain Francis Patrick Armstrong
Duchess
Gwendoline
Hyak

Footnotes

1. Norman Hacking, “Steamboat Days on the Upper Columbia and Upper Kootenay,” British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol XVI, Nos 1 and 2 (January-April 1952): p 42. https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0190669
2. Art Downs, Paddlewheels on the Frontier: The Story of British Columbia and Yukon Sternwheel Steamers (Seattle, Washington: Superior Publishing Company, 1972): p 112. https://archive.org/embed/paddlewheelsonfr0000down
3. George Gibbs, A dictionary of the Chinook jargon, or, A Trade Language of Oregon (Washington: Smithsonian Institute, 1863), p 9.
https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.35964
4. Norman Hacking, “Steamboat Days on the Upper Columbia and Upper Kootenay,” British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol XVI, Nos 1 and 2 (January-April 1952): p 43. (Quoting The Golden Star 22 January 1910.
https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0190669
5. A.O. Wheeler and Elizabeth Parker, The Selkirk Mountains: A Guide for Mountain Climbers and Pilgrims (Winnipeg: Stovel Co, c.1912), p 134. http://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.83397
Art Downs, Paddlewheels on the Frontier: The Story of British Columbia and Yukon Sternwheel Steamers (Seattle, Washington: Superior Publishing Company, 1972): p 112. https://archive.org/embed/paddlewheelsonfr0000down
6. Norman Hacking, “Steamboat Days on the Upper Columbia and Upper Kootenay,” British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol XVI, Nos 1 and 2 (January-April 1952): p 42. (Quoting The Golden Star 23 July 1910).
https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0190669
7. Norman Hacking, “Steamboat Days on the Upper Columbia and Upper Kootenay,” British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol XVI, Nos 1 and 2 (January-April 1952): p 45. https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0190669

 

Resources

BC Geographical Names, “Klahowya Mountain,” Accessed 11 November 2020. http://apps.gov.bc.ca/pub/bcgnws/names/5403.html

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