News Southern Alberta

Crowsnest Pass council declines request to change creek name

Lyon’s Creek’s namesake, Henry E. Lyon, who was Blairmore’s first mayor and served in the First World War as a lieutenant-colonel. (Photo courtesy of Crowsnest Museum.)

By Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Apostrophes are fickle things.

Used in contractions to denote the combining of two words to form one (should not/shouldn’t), apostrophes also indicate possession (Sean’s article). Things can get a little tricky when “it” gets involved, as in it’s (it is) and its (gender-neutral, third-person possessive, like “The dog returned to its owner”).

In order to avoid confusion, international guidelines for naming geographic locations typically exclude the use of apostrophes. A prime local example in Crowsnest Pass is Lyons Creek.

According to a 1901 land survey, the creek was originally named Lyon Creek. A 1906 survey listed it as Lyons Creek, and the Geographic Board of Canada officially adopted the name Lyons Creek in 1915.

Fast forward 106 years to the March 30 council meeting for Crowsnest Pass, where council considered a request from the Alberta Geographical Names Program for the creek’s name to revert to its original 1901 title. The program contacted council after receiving an application from a local resident suggesting the name change.

Lyons Creek gets its name from Henry E. Lyon, who was the first mayor of Blairmore in 1911.

Mr. Lyon was born in Richmond, Ont., in 1873. He moved to Blairmore in 1898 as a station master and telegrapher with the Canadian Pacific Railway; he was one of the first helpers on scene after the Frank Slide disaster occurred in 1903.

An entrepreneur with a keen business sense, Mr. Lyon opened and ran multiple enterprises, including mercantile stores in Blairmore, Frank and Lille. He also operated the local post office and a real estate office until it burned down in an apparent case of arson.

Additionally, Mr. Lyon was instrumental in constructing a theatre known as the Opera House, a venue for silent films and plays that doubled as an indoor roller skating rink.

After the First World War broke out, Mr. Lyon recruited locals to form the 192nd Battalion, which reinforced existing battalions in Europe. He was given the rank of lieutenant-colonel and served in England and France.

Shortly after he returned home from the war, Mr. Lyon’s wife, Ophelia, passed away in 1919. They had 11 children. Three years later, Mr. Lyon moved to Vancouver, where he would remain until his death in 1959.

Interesting history aside, council members were uninterested in spending time debating the finer points distinguishing Lyon Creek from Lyons Creek.

“Can we send this to the minister of red tape reduction?” joked Coun. Dean Ward.

Council voted unanimously to receive the request as information.

By Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Shootin’ the Breeze