Eighty-first in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
There are two theories about how Greenwood got its name. One says it’s a combination of the green wooded hillside and surname of townsite founder Robert Wood (1841-1921); the other says it’s after a Denver suburb.
It may be a bit of both: Wood named the town, but based it on an existing mining camp in the area, first mentioned in a Victoria Daily Colonist item of January 21, 1894 reprinted from the Vernon News: “It is reported that Eastern capitalists are negotiating for the … Knob Hill and Ironsides [mining claims] in Greenwood Camp.”
Greenwood Camp later became the city of Phoenix. The 2001 Boundary Visitors Guide said “Greenwood Camp and nearby Deadwood Camp were aptly named to distinguish one another: Greenwood was known for its green wood, Deadwood for its dead wood as a result of a fire.”
Greenwood, the city, was first mentioned in the Colonist of October 13, 1895, also reprinted from the Vernon News: “Messrs. Robert and Hugh Wood, of Armstrong, came up on Thursday’s boat last week from a prolonged trip through the Southern Okanagan and Kettle River districts … Besides becoming interested in several mining claims, they purchased a pre-emption about two miles above Boundary Falls, at the junction of several roads leading to important camps. The proprietors think that a more favorable location for a thriving town is not to be found in the lower country. It will be known as Greenwood city.”
The Woods were natives of Hallmand County, Ontario. Robert came to BC in 1862 as part of the Cariboo gold rush. He didn’t have much luck placer mining, however, and took up farming on the Fraser River. In 1882, he moved to the Okanagan, where the town of Armstrong was founded on his ranch before he came to the Boundary.
A Greenwood post office application was referred to the inspector on December 21, 1895, and a report filed January 9, 1896 noted: “This place is a registered townsite and is already generally known by this name throughout the province.”
The post office opened March 1, with Wood as postmaster. However, it actually took until April 27 for John A. Coryell to complete the townsite survey. It was known as Greenwood City to distinguish it from Greenwood Camp until the latter was renamed Phoenix in 1899.
Postmaster K.C.B. Frith told James White of the Canadian Geographic Survey in 1905 that “Greenwood is named after Greenwood Camp, on account of the garden trees which covered the hillsides of this camp.”
However, R.A. Brown told White in a letter the same year that “Greenwood was named after a mining camp in Colorado.”
The 1962 book Custom Services in Western Canada claimed: “Greenwood was named by one of the townsite owners, C. Scott Galloway. He remarked when they were on a hillside overlooking the settlement ‘It is a nice green wood,’ and his partner Robert Wood said. ‘That is what we will call it.’”
Unlikely. Galloway wasn’t on the scene until 1896. Wood sold him a half-interest in the townsite early the following year. Wood served as Greenwood’s first mayor and lived there until a few months before his death in Kerrisdale at age 80.
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