How Horsefly Got It's Name

by: Sage Birchwater,
Casual Country 2001

Besides her roots in the Chilcotin, Marg Mero's roots in the Cariboo are even deeper. When she was born in the old Williams Lake Hospital in 1933, her mother was the school teacher and post mistress in Horsefly.

"My great uncle settled in Horsefly after the Klondike. They were Campbell's, merchants in Likely and Horsefly. My grandfather was a sea captain who moved to Horsefly when he retired at age 77. I guess figured if he couldn't sail the sea then he didn't want to look at it."

Marg's mother, Gretta McDougal, moved to Horsefly in 1919 with her family to teach Grades 1-8 in the one-room log school house. She was only 18 years old. She had spent a year in Norman School in Victoria before accepting the posting in the little hamlet on the banks of the Horsefly River. But the village wasn't called Horsefly in those days, it was called Harper's Camp. And for some reason this name irked some of the locals in the community.

Gretta very quickly met and fell in love with the son of a local rancher - a story common to many rural school teachers throughout the Cariboo Chilcotin in those days. She married John Parminter of Beaver Valley in 1922 and eventually became post mistress.

"It was quite an exciting place to be raised at the time," recalls Marg who started school the one-room school her mother taught in. Her great uncle, Al Campbell had the general store in Horsefly. "Our log cabin was the post office and the only place with a phone, so everybody used to come there to use it."

But she was never called Marg or Margaret when she was young. "I guess my aunt Erma Pegues looked at me said I had a nubby nose. So that's what hey called me, Nubby."

It was while Gretta Parminter was post mistress that the issue of changing the name of the community from Harper's Camp to something else, came to the fore. "There were a lot of Americans living there," Marg surmises. "I guess they didn't like people writing to them at a 'camp'. So they had a big meeting and went through the official channels to have the name changed."

The correspondence between the community and the general government went back and forth and was getting quite tedious. And the debate in the community about the name changed apparently got quite heated. Finally Gretta got a letter in the post office listing four possible choices for a new name that she was supposed to take back to the community. But for some reason she decided the debate had gone on long
enough. "She circled the name, Horsefly, and sent the form back to Ottawa without consulting anyone. Everybody figured the government had decided on the name and didn't know that it was actually my mother. She never got credit for it."

Marg argues that the name of Horsefly made the most sense anyway. "They
already had the Horsefly River, Horsefly Lake and the Horsefly Forest District, so why not call the community Horsefly."

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