Mount David Thompson

Mount David Thompson

Looking north-northeast to Mount David Thompson from Conway Creek (courtesy Joseph Cross)

During research into the travels and exploration of David Thompson, I noticed a mountain called Mount David in the Howse River valley while reviewing a federal map sheet. I have to admit that I had a funny feeling that it was most likely named after David Thompson, but none the less, I had to satisfy my curiosity. After a brief search, I came across a web site entitled Peakfinder created by David Birrell. An explanation as to how the mountain was named was located there confirming that it had indeed been named after the geographer David Thompson.

I became annoyed; not so much by the man who named the peak, but more so that he was so limited in the manner in which he could name it. Surveyor Arthur Wheeler named the mountain (above Thompson’s 1807 campsite) Mount David because the rules of the day only allowed for the use of a surname. Because a peak not far away was already named Thompson; Wheeler stepped away from the rules and stubbornly, to his credit, named the mountain Mount David.

Besides pure stubbornness and his admiration for Thompson, we will never know what else drove Wheeler to go outside the rules. Perhaps he knew that someday there would be an opportunity for someone to clarify the name thus invoking the curiosity of the onlooker to seek out the historical significance of the name assigned to the mountain.

I would wrote a paper and submission to the Geographic Names Board of Canada in May of 2005 to rename the mountain. In the paper I stated that

“although Mr. Wheeler, of the Inter-Provincial Boundary Survey, made an admirable attempt to recognize David Thompson’s accomplishments… the use of a first name is not a strong enough link from the geographical feature to the historical figure. This is especially true given the time that has passed and the lack of a monument or a form of literature that would be readily available to inform the traveler of the significance of the feature associated with the name… The use of surnames to link geographical features to that of a historical figure is crucial. The utilization of a surname, especially combined with a first name, invokes the curiosity… to look beyond the name of the feature and therefore promote a rediscovery of its historical significance.”

After a 14 month wait, an approval was granted by the Alberta Historical Resources Board on July 17, 2006 and Mount David would be renamed Mount David Thompson by the Geographic Names Board of Canada.

You may view the official approval Here