Our town… by any other name

John Devitt

Revelstoke, British Columbia.  For most, that’s the name of this little town, but there are many others.  Here we’ll be discussing some of the more prevalent ones.

Revelstoke – This was the name given to the original settlement of Farwell.  The Canadian Pacific Railway re-named it after Lord Revelstoke who, along with his bank, saved the railway from bankruptcy.  I sometimes wonder what Farwell locals thought of a big corporation arbitrarily deciding to change the name of their hometown.  Nevertheless, this is obviously the name everyone knows.  Whether they’ve heard the name in a ski movie, read about us in a magazine, or just spotted the road sign on the highway.  Welcome to Revelstoke.

The Stoke – Most of us refer to the Stoke List more simply as “the Stoke” and now with the new radio station, that’s also referred to as “the Stoke,” it’s beginning to get confusing.  Thankfully this term isn’t used much any more to talk about the city itself.  Sometimes you will hear this name spoken on a chair lift or while visiting out of town.  Usually it is only used by those not very familiar with Revelstoke.  If they were more familiar, they would likely know that “Stoke” is actually a verb, not a noun like our other list makers, and that “The Stoke” refers to the state of mind you have while here.

Revelbloke – Frequently heard throughout the winter and specifically when out for a night on the town.  Revelbloke is an easy way to describe the apparent lack of available women in town.  Whether this is true or not is anyone’s guess, but when you stop in to one of the pubs and see a 9:1 ratio of guys to girls, it’s hard not to believe.

Paradise/Utopia/Heaven – Many people like to use any of these words for Revelstoke, so they make our list.  However, these are not distinctly Revelstoke like the other list makers.  These three are used to describe just about any town in the Kootenays, or even in British Columbia.  Anyone that lives somewhere has chosen to live in that place because they believe it is perfect, for them.  I’m sure there are people living in Surrey that believe it is heaven on earth.  Paradise/Utopia/Heaven should be considered a less creative, overly used descriptive term and not a community title.

Revelbush – I’ve only heard this said once, but one is better than none and deserves a spot on the list.  A guy from Calgary on the RMR gondola said this to a friend to describe the “small town-ness” and isolated nature of Revelstoke.

Revelstuck – This one is pretty common, and has a number of different meanings cutting both ways. The most apparent being frequent winter road closures.  On the seasonal flip side you can easily get stuck in the summer to avoid all the road tripper traffic!

Often people outside of Revelstoke refer to it as Revelstuck.  However, many do so in an approving manner.  I can’t think of the number of times (6 times) that I’ve heard someone tell me they got stuck in Revelstoke for an extra day or two because of a highway closure, but ended up skiing great snow and spending their extra time at a comfortable bed and breakfast.  For some, getting Revelstuck is the best part of their vacation, because no one really wants to go back to work on Monday.

For locals, Revelstuck is a double-edged sword.  For some, it means they have gotten sucked in here like a black hole with an infinite gravitational pull and will never escape.  For others, they say they’re stuck here and proud of it.  When you love a place so much, why would you want to go anywhere else?  There may be a correlation between one’s opinions of the place and whether they feel this is a positive or negative term.

Revy – By far the most common after “Revelstoke” itself, this is a truly Canadian nickname.  Adding an “ee” sound to the end of a name, like Dougie, Matty, Frankie, etc, just makes it way cooler. Just like a good nickname for a friend, this is the best nickname for Revelstoke.  Using it shows you and Revelstoke are on pretty good terms and you may even be on your way to becoming a local.

Whatever your name for Revelstoke may be you call it what you do because you love it and you want some more of it.  Which brings us to the number one name for Revelstoke on our list.

Home – They say home is where your favourite pillow is, and for all of us, that’s here, in Revelstoke.