Pass Finder

Sinclair Pass

  • 1478 m (4850ft)
  • Naming History
  • Peaks and Rivers
50.7555N 115.9361W
Province: BC
Park: Kootenay
Year Named:
Named by:
Named for: Sinclair, James (In 1854 James Sinclair passed through this pass as he led a party of emigrants through the Rockies to the Columbia River.) (see biog.)
Mountain (NW):
Mountain (SE): Mount Sinclair
Headwaters (NE): Swede Creek
Headwaters (SW): Sinclair Creek


Highway #93 travels through the pass as it cuts through the mountains from the Kootenay Valley to the Columbia.

JAMES SINCLAIR (1805-1856)

In 1841 James Sinclair led a party of emigrants from the Red River Colony in present day Manitoba to Oregon. The journey was instigated by George Simpson, governor of the Hudson Bay Company, in order to reinforce the British presence in the area.

The party was made up of 23 Metis families totalling 121 people, including a 75 year old man and babies born during the trip. They travelled first to Fort Edmonton where they left their Red River carts and, guided by the Cree chief Maskepetoon, proceeded on horseback via Lake Minnewanka and a pass between Mount Peechee and Mount Lady Macdonald to the present site of Canmore. They then ascended to White Man Gap between Ha Ling Peak and Mount Rundle, travelled up the Spray valley to White Man Pass, descended the Cross River to the Kootenay River from which they crossed Sinclair Pass (below Sinclair Peak) to the Columbia and eventually reached Oregon.

In 1854, Sinclair, again guided by Maskepetoon, led a party to Oregon from Red River, this time a group of about one hundred driving 250 head of cattle. After receiving reports of a shorter route, they travelled up the Kananaskis River and are thought to have crossed North Kananaskis Pass, a remarkable accomplishment.

Sadly, Sinclair was shot and killed in 1856 when Indians attacked an American post on the Columbia River that he happened to be visiting.