We are very fortunate to live in such a wondrous place as Nakusp, surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers, and incredible scenery! Have you ever wondered how our local Monashee Range got its name? We have one particular Highlander to thank for it. Be sure to drop by the Nakusp Museum to learn more local history!
“In the early winter of 1880, Donald McIntyre, who first staked the Monashee mines, encountered snow, rain, thunder and lightning, while on a prospecting trip in the mountains west of the Arrow Lakes.
He had been toiling all day in heavy timber, pushing his way through wet, snow-laden brush, and climbing over windfalls until he was feeling about as miserable as wet, cold, and fatigue could render him.
Then all at once the wind fell, the clouds rolled away, and the sun came out bright and warm, and when McIntyre, who was a Highlander and therefore had something of the poetic in his composition, turned and saw a near-by mountain standing peaceful and serene in the light of the evening sun, he murmured “Monashee” — and the name stuck.
The Gaelic “monadh” means mountain, though “beinn” is the word commonly used in speaking of a single peak, such as Ben Nevis. “M’honadh” is what was used in the Highlands and the Hebrides in speaking of the wild, desolate, peaty land full of mountains, lakes, and rivers.
The last half of the word, authorities say is undoubtedly meant for “sith” the Gaelic word for peace, but pronounced “shee”. What the old prospector meant and what he probably said with no one to hear it but himself was “Monadh-sith”, pronouced “Monashee”, and translates into Mountains of Peace.”
Excerpt from Pioneer Days of Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes (1964).