What’s in a Name? The origins of Cerise Creek, Mount Caspar and Other Geographical Features in the Lillooet Area

Three geographic features in the upper Cayoosh are named for the Phair/Eyre family of Lillooet: Cerise Creek, Caspar Creek and Mount Caspar. Haylmore Creek and Haylmore Peak in the adjacent Cayoosh Range are named for another branch of this extended family.

Cerise Armit Eyre, born on Corfu in 1854, was one of five children born to Captain John and Maria Josephine (Ballingal) Eyre, an Anglo-Irish military family.

Captain Eyre died in Australia and his wife remarried Captain John Martley to emigrate to the new colony of British Columbia in 1861. Maria’s children by Eyre were left in the care of her father.

The Martleys settled near Lillooet to create a farming estate close to Pavilion that came to be called’ The Grange’ where they raised 3 children of their own.

In the latter 1870s, Maria’s two daughters by her first marriage, Cerise and Mary, joined their mother and step-father on The Grange.

Lillooet Main Street, 1886. (Photographer: Arthur William Armit (A.W.A.) Phair)


Caspar Phair, born 1846 in Ireland, arrived in BC in 1873 by way of California. Landing at Yale, he travelled on foot to Lillooet and took up a teaching position which he held for the next seven years.

In 1878, he became a Government Agent—an amalgamation of several roles including magistrate, Chief Constable, coroner, fire chief, game warden etc. A secure sinecure ensuring a regular income.

Caspar Phair and Cerise Eyre were married in 1879, and their first son, Arthur William Armit (A.W.A. ) Phair, was born in 1880. A few years later, on a large assembled property within the original R.E. town plan, the Phairs had constructed what remains the town’s finest piece of heritage architecture and which became named, with some Irish connection, “Longford House.”

Exterior of the Phair’s residence, “Longford House.” The group portrait shows Mr. and Mrs. Phair , their sons A.W.A. “Artie” and Herbert and their Chinese servant. (Photographer: Major James Skitt Matthews, taken in 1896)

In 1887, Cerise purchased the town’s largest general store, and the Phairs were well ensconced within the village’s compact “establishment.”

Left: Postcard sent by A.W.A. Phair in July of 1908, showing a group of men and boys standing in front of the C.A. Phair General Store in Lillooet, B.C. with a pile of animal carcasses. (Courtesy of Michael Kennedy). Right: Tokens for the C.A. Phair General Store in Lillooet. Issued in 1895. (Photos: Bank of Canada Museum)

A.W.A. (Artie) Phair was a prolific early photographer of the Lillooet/Bridge River region, leaving behind an impressive collection documenting the early settlement/development era.

Head of Cayoosh Creek (photographer: Arthur William Armit (A.W.A.) Phair, courtesy of Michael Kennedy)


Artie was known to be a great and competitive walker—in one instance hiking the Duffey trail through the Cayoosh drainage. This was probably when the toponyms “Cerise” and “Caspar” became affixed to the landscape, honouring his parent’s memory. There is a generous scattering of the Phair toponym over features in the Lillooet area—in addition to the upper Cayoosh see Phair Creek, Phair lake, Phair Flat, and Armit Spring.

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