Bob Quinn Lake was named after a trapper, telegraph operator and prospector who sought gold in the wild country between Stewart and Dease Lake in the early 20th Century.
Bob Quinn was tough: in the winter of 1911, when he was working a remote trapline, alone, he slipped and broke a leg. Three months later he emerged from the bush, hobbling to Meziadin, then over the Bear Glacier to Stewart on handmade crutches. He had set the broken leg himself and survived the winter alone, by shooting and eating the occasional beaver that got close enough for the injured man to reach. He lived with a bad leg for the rest of his life.
Bob Quinn was persistent: in 1924-5 he and three others (George Ball and Frank and George Finn) spent two years excavating for gold near Dease Lake. They sunk a test shaft that reached bedrock and promised gold. Instead they found a Chinese waterwheel from the gold rush of 1870, and little else.
The lake was named for him on the suggestion of Philip Monckton, a surveyor. In 1926, while Quinn worked as the telegraph operator at Echo Lake, he patrolled the area north from Echo Lake to Devil Creek, a daunting hike, even for someone with two good legs.
His namesake lake could be said to have saved his life: in October of 1931, while in the Echo Lake-Bob Quinn lake area, Quinn fell seriously ill, and needed urgent medical help. The nearest medical options were hundreds of kilometres away, or through mountain highlands that were already snowed in. He telegraphed for help. Bush planes on floats were new and rare. One—a DeHavilland Gypsy Moth biplane fitted with pontoons for water landing—was available. The only lake large enough to land on was Bob Quinn Lake. After a week’s wait for the weather to clear, the Gypsy Moth flew from Rupert to Stewart. With only verbal instructions on where to find the remote lake, the pilot flew alone, picked up Quinn and rushed him to the hospital in Prince Rupert where he recovered. He later retired in Prince Rupert.