At turn-of-the-Millennium there are still only three practical routes which will take a ground-bound traveller from the Coast of British Columbia out onto the Canadian Prairies. Coughing its way out of Vancouver and the smoggy Lower Mainland, the Trans-Canada Highway, the No. 1, carries its endless load of traffic up the Fraser River to the Thompson and, still servilely following the Mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway, makes its way over the Eagle, Rogers and the Kicking Horse Passes, past Banff and through Calgary and so on across the Prairies and the East to arrive after 7,000-odd kilometres in St. Johns, Newfoundland.
The second route, the Yellowhead Highway, No. 16, begins in rain-soaked Prince Rupert and picks its way 2,700 kilometres through the monotonous grandeur of B.C.s central latitudes, eases over the Yellowhead Pass in the Rockies and angles south-eastward across Alberta, Saskatchewan and halfway into Manitoba to connect with the Trans-Canada Highway at Portage La Prairie.
The third way is, beyond a doubt, the best: the Crowsnest Highway, No. 3. Much of its 1800 kilometre length has been in use since the late 1920s, and by the late 40s it had been improved until it challenged the railroads for freight. By the 1950s it had all but made the railroads redundant, and until the Rogers Pass section of the Trans-Canada Highway was declared open by Prime Minister John George Diefenbaker on September 3rd, 1962, the Crowsnest Highway was Western Canadas high way to the Coast.
From the Big Smoke of Vancouver a traveller can chose one of two routes to get to Hope, the western terminus of the Crowsnest Highway. Roaring heel-to-the-steel along the south shore of the Fraser is the fume-choked, restricted-access, multi-laned Trans-Canada Highway, habitual haunt of hurrying commuters and of Greyhounds and semi-trailer trucks hell-bent on maintaining a schedule.
Alternatively, on the north bank of the Fraser River runs No. 7, the Lougheed Highway. Formerly a pleasant two-laner meandering along from town to town through the Fraser valleys hinterland, in the year 2000 the first 80 kilometres of the Lougheed east from Van is a mix of four and six lane wide stretches of divided high-speed turnpike separated by segments of the original highway squeezing through erstwhile rural communities now glutted with the population overflow of Vancouver. Day and night, tortured souls trapped in their motorized cabinets zip desperately from one lane to another, from red light to red light, trying to ignore the noxious taste of the air and the sounds of the stalling traffic, gnashing their teeth in frustration at not being where they want to be. From Vancouver to Mission, roughly sixty kilometres, the No. 7 is a madhouse, but nothing compared to the twenty kilometres east of Mission to Deroche. Here the highway preserves its original dimensions, with shoulders so skinny that they are often merely the width of the painted line marking the edge of the pavement. A cyclist straying from that line is either obstructing traffic or careering on the edge of disaster in fine gravel. Anxious, stressed-out drivers in a nose-to-tail race make the section a hell. As of the autumn of 1999, there appears to be no progress made in widening the roadway.
Eastward from Deroche, however, the Lougheed comes into its own and even cyclists can relax enough to enjoy the charm of the Valley. In emerald pastures Holstein and Jersey dairy cows scratch away itches against ancient, crippled Garry oaks, uninterested in the luscious fruits which begin dripping from blackberry canes about mid-July. Poplars and Red Alder shade the laneways. Flocks of ducks scoot low overhead on their way to a secluded marsh, and wheeling high above, bright white gulls scan the Frasers back-waters for lunch. With the diminished traffic, the Lougheeds shoulders dont appear nearly so inadequate, the air begins to lose the taste of burned metal. Rarely more than a stones throw away on the right since Deroche, the Cascade Subdivision of the Mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP, or CPR) adds industrial excitement as it clanks trains back and forth from the sea. Well supplied with campgrounds and attended by pretty towns, offering lovely vistas and interesting stopping places like the Springfield Premium Spring Water fountain high on the slopes of Woodside Mountain, and the Seabird Island Indian Reserve café, the Lougheed remains my preferred route out of the Big Smoke. It ends at a complex intersection with No. 1 just north of Hope.
The Promise of a Railway: B.C., Canada and Andrew Onderdonk
In its last 500 metres, the eastbound lane of No. 7 passes beneath the Trans-Canada Highway and, climbing a slight grade, curves around to the left and divides. While the right hand branch blends itself into the T-C and disappears north up into the Fraser Canyon, the left hand branch completes the curves 180 degrees and Tees into the Trans-Canada at a big stop sign. A few yards to the left is the overpass that the No. 7 has just passed under. Dated 1962, it was built to carry exactly two lanes of highway. Over flying both No. 7 and several tracks of the CPR, it is long, and coupled with the fact that it has no shoulders and is typically packed with fast traffic, it is one of the most dangerous constrictions that cyclists have to face on this journey.
Viewed from the relative safety of the roadside on the southern side of the Overpass, it is a pretty sight looking back up the No. 7. Curled up and asleep on the right, Dog Mountain, the last peak of the Lillooet Range, guards the portals of the Frasers canyon. The Lower Mainland with its hay crops, dairy cows and truck gardens ends here. Squeezed between the Mountain and the little knoll that keeps the Dog from straying into the River, the CP Mainline and its black companion, the No. 7, arrow out of the west to vanish beneath the Overpass. Somewhere in the middle distance the Mainline spawns several side tracks on its river side. These are the Odlum sidings, where the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) used to join the high steel. Closer, the Odlum sidings blend seamlessly into the Haig sidings which have reached westward from the other side of the Overpass. Away northward, the Mainline curves past Haig and along the Frasers right bank to pace the No. 1 across Western Canada and into the East. The CPR, writes R.G. Burrows in his Railway Mileposts: British Columbia, Volume I: The CPR Mainline Route from the Rockies to the Pacific (Railway Milepost Books, North Vancouver, 1981), called Haig Hope until 1916 when the completed KVR usurped that name for its station in the town proper across the River.
Much of the last 100 years of history along the Crowsnest Highway has been written in railroad steel, and passing beneath the Overpass is the first chapter in the story.
The two major stipulations insisted upon by the colony of British Columbia when it agreed to join the new Canadian confederation in 1871 was that its accumulated debt of $1.5 million be assumed by the Dominion, and that a railroad linking the West Coast to the rest of the country be built within ten years. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and his Conservative government were amenable to the demands, but though surveys for the Road were begun on the 20th of July of that year, the very day B.C. joined Canada, political misfortunes in the Federal arena were to delay construction. Macdonalds Conservatives were replaced by Alexander Mackenzies Liberals in January of 74, and the new administration believed that the promise of a railroad across thousands of miles of uncharted Canadian Shield, prairie and mountains was irresponsibly rashit hadnt yet even been determined where the Lines western terminus was to be: New Westminster or Victoria. With these reservations in mind, and ruing the fact that the Canadian Pacific Surveys office in Ottawa had burned to the ground with all its contents in January of 1874, the Liberals applied the brakes to the project, resolving to send boards of inquiry and crews of surveyors out to determine the facts. The enfranchised populace of B.C. was split along geographic lines. Those on the Lower Mainland wanted the Line to come down the Fraser to the finest deep-water anchorage on the Coast, Burrard Inlet: Victorians, ably represented by the theatrical politician and newspaperman, Amor de Cosmos, wanted the Line picked across the rugged Pacific Ranges and out Bute Inlet, hopped island to island to Vancouvers Island and then down to their fair city. Sanford Fleming, the Lines chief engineer, had determined that the Yellowhead Pass west of Fort Edmonton was likely the best route through the Rockies, and after some careful investigations, plumped for the Burrard Inlet terminus. The Member of Parliament for the area, Edgar Dewdney, agreed, as did governor-general Lord Dufferin who, writes Brian Titley in The Frontier World of Edgar Dewdney (UBC Press, Vancouver, 1999), visited British Columbia on a fact-finding mission in 1876. After Henry Cambie completed exhaustive surveys of the Fraser route, on July 12, 1878, Mackenzie declared that Burrard Inlet was the goal of the national railroad. The 1881 deadline for completing the route was fast approaching, however, and British Columbians had seen no steel laid. Talk of secession grew loud enough to be finally heard in Ottawa. To forestall such a disaster, the federal government sweetened the pot with promises of a rail line built on the Island from Esquimalt to Nanaimo, and guarantees to spend a minimum of $2 million per year on construction of the mainline if B.C. would agree to accept a completion deadline of December 31st, 1890 and, in the interim, a waggon road and a telegraph line connecting the province to the East. This was still a hot topic of debate when, on September 17th, 1878, Macdonald and the Conservatives swept back into power with a mandate to get on with the Project.
To mollify the B.C. voters, the Dominion government solicited bids from contractors to build a line from now-disappeared Emory City, the limit of navigation on the Fraser River perhaps twelve miles up stream from Hope, to Savonas Ferry on Kamloops Lake, 127 rugged River valley miles away. With a bid of $9.1 million, D.O. Mills of California won the contract and dispatched Andrew J. Onderdonk in April of 1880 to get the job done. He had until the last day of June, 1885. Choosing Yale, two miles above Emory City, as his headquarters, Onderdonk had stores, shops, yards, offices, stables, an explosive factory, dormitories, a hospital, a sawmill, and a mansion for his familys residence built. Unable to find sufficient labour locally, he began to recruit men out of China, importing nearly 16,000 by the time the job was done. At 11:00 in the morning of May 14th a detonation of blasting powder at Emorys Bar signalled the beginning of the great task. The thousands of anonymous Chinese workers hefted their tools and began hacking and blasting a railbed into the cliff faces of the treacherous Fraser Canyon, bridging gorges, laying steel.
So impressed with the operation was Sir Charles Tupper, the Federal Minister of Railways, that on December 1st of 1881 he awarded Onderdonk the contract to build down the Fraser from Emory City to tidewater at Port Moody on Burrard Inlet. Attacking it from both ends, Onderdonk saw this section completed at 1:30 in the afternoon of January 22nd, 1884, when the last spike was driven home at Nicomen. If, as J.A. Cherrington claims in The Fraser Valley: A History (Harbour Publishing, Madiera Park, 1992), Onderdonk had the steel pushed westward as far as Harrison River by the end of 1882, on the roadbed presently occupied by No. 7 track-laying crews must have progressed past the site of the Overpass sometime in the summer of that year.
Onderdonk didnt lay out the Odlum sidings; there was nothing but Mainline here until the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) began construction in December of 1913 on a bridge to bring their rails from Hope across the River to the Mainline. Needing a junction with the Mainline and a place to marshal materials, the KVR prevailed upon CP to put down sidings and a yards appeared. Known first as Petain, the Yards were renamed in 1940 for Canadas ranking overseas general, V.W. Odlum, when the French hero of the First World War, General H.P. Pétain, accepted the premiership of the collaborationist Vichy government.
Staying in Hope
South from the Overpass, the Trans-Canada slides down the gentle slope of the little Knoll and curves left towards the Fraser. Just where it disappears behind the trees about 500 metres away, one can see the western abutment of a bridge. Even though they have just risked their necks getting to the T-Cs southbound shoulder when they left the No. 7, I advise cyclists to cross the highway and get onto the pedestrian pathway which is carried across the Fraser on a railingd walkway that has been hung from the Bridges up-stream edge. Although the yellow cautionary sign bearing a black bicycle circled in scarlet with a line slashed diagonally across it prohibits cycling on the walkway, for all the pedestrians that a bikie is likely to meet on the Bridge, just ignore the sign; common courtesy dictates that one dismounts to ensure a walkers safety, and explaining a contravention of the law to a Mountie is much safer than giving a half-dozen semi-trailer units a chance to mince you through the grated deck of this narrow, 955 foot-long span.
Looking across the bridges deck and facing down the Frasers stream, to our left, packed tightly and spiked down by the occasional tall conifer onto the little delta built up over the æons by the Coquihalla River, the Town of Hope. Looking back along the bridge to the right, we see a gap cut into the ranks of the trees on the little Knoll marking the right-of-way of the KVR as it makes its way to Odlum, rail-less since 1970 when the CPR concluded that the costs of keeping the Coquihalla from under-mining its rails at the back of Town was much higher than the income derived from delivering the occasional tank-car to the local bulk oil distributor. As well, the Companys property in growing Hope was worth a bundle.
Looking upstream, we see the Bridge is built just downstream from a left hand bend in the River. Gathered from an area of more than 200,000 square kilometres, 2,700 cubic metres of water per second sweep in from the north-east to rip at the Knoll before getting turned to pass beneath us heading almost due south. The old cross-river ferry landing, in the days before the Bridge, was at the apex of the bend, perhaps 200 metres upstream. Five or six hundred metres farther up and out of sight on our right, the Coquihalla River pours into the Fraser, its channel presently forming the eastern boundary of Hope.
From the Bridges deck it is a drop of some ten or twelve metres into the cold, swift, grey waters of the Fraser. Winning the contract in 1912, Armstrong, Morrison and Company of Vancouver sent crews to pour the abutments and three piers in the stream. Once the concrete work had cured, the Canadian Bridge Company toppd the piers with four 238 foot-long, double-decked spans. The lower level, now stripped of its decking and fenced off at both ends, carried the KVRs tracks, and from December 30th, 1914, when the track-laying train worked its way across the Bridge, trains could wheeze down from the CP Mainline and slip across the River into the KVR yards which were located immediately east from the Bridge. To create this dual purpose structure, the federal government contributed a quarter of a million dollars, while the Conservative legislature of premier Richard McBride kicked in a further $200,000. The remainder of the $560,000 total cost was picked up by the CPR.
Leaving the Bridge southward, as No. 1 bends to parallel the River downstream and drop down into Hopes Water Avenue (42m), an imaginative observer might be able to discern the outline of the KVRs old right-of-way and Yards beneath the crescents and avenues that have colonized the property since the departure of the Railway. In its hey-day, according to R.G. Burrows in his magnificent Railway Mileposts: British Columbia - Volume II: The South-western Routes from the Crowsnest to the Coquihalla (Railway Milepost Books, North Vancouver, 1984), the Yards were equipped with 47 sidings, a wye, coal dock and water tank and, from 1917, a three stall engine house where, in the days of steam, pusher locomotives were serviced between assignments helping trains up the 2.2% grades of the Coquihalla Valley. With the adoption of diesel power in 1953, though, and the permanent closure of the Coquihalla Section of the KVR in 1961, the Yards lost much of their importance to the CPR, and were gradually sold off.
Off the Bridge and heading south up Water Street, lolling under its greenery on the left is an old residential district with its little clap-board churches and sprinkling of newer homes amid the veterans. On the right, the Telte Yet Campground. As a major cross-roads, Hope is well provisioned with accommodations. If the weather is inclementand Hopes climate tends toward the dampshelter can be found somewhere among the two dozen or so motels along Water Avenue and, on the southern side of Town, Old Hope-Princeton Way. The latter has by far the greater number of motels and the greatest range in price.
From the Tourist Info. Desk in the museum at 919 Water Street towards the south end of town one can get directions to any of the several campgrounds around Hope. Cyclists are attracted to a shady nook just off of the Old Yale Road in the tiny suburb of Silver Creek; the Holiday Motel and its campground. An attractively aged establishment, for a modest fee it offers campers sites on a grassy little commons, clean showers and solid emplacements to which a bike can be secured.
As attractive as the Holiday is the inexpensive Telte Yet Campgrounds, right on Water Street downtown on the banks of the Fraser. It is owned and run by the Stó:lo (Staw-low) first nations People, and is built upon part of their ancient village of Tsqo:ls. A little dusty, noisy but steadily improving, the Telte Yets charms are its proprietors, its huge old cedars shading many of the sites, the free wood for the open fire pits, and the Frasers close proximity.
Salmon and the Stó:lo
Down by the Fraser, the hubbub of the Telte Yet is almost drowned out by the rush of the waters. This river is one of the few major undammed streams on the West Coast. For salmon, its a highway.
Salmon are peculiar fishes. All five species are born in fresh water, and as fry they drift down to the Ocean to live usually four years in the salt. Obeying a survival strategy some two million years old, they then collect themselves into enormous schools and run back up the exact stream which they drifted down at the beginning of their lives. A natural rivers every little tributary, every little pool, has its family of salmon that invariably return to it, to savour again the water that they first tasted at the moment of their hatching. In precisely the same gravel bed that their mothers laid their eggs, salmon spawn and then die, their bodies a feast for a host of riparian hunters and scavengers.
Salmon have to run; they have no choice, and those which cannot return to their home waters simply do not reproduce. The Whiteman, deluded into believing that the Eternal has granted him the convenience of electricity and domestic running water, for decades considered the salmons needs a non-issue and with thoughtless abandon dammed rivers all up and down the Coast. Unable to complete their migration, billions of fish thrashed away the last moments of their ancestors lineage against concrete walls. Denied the opportunity to procreate, entire populations of Salmon disappeared.
Though its stream remains largely unimpeded, the Fraser no longer teems with the large Salmon population of yore. When first seen by Whitemen, so many fish ran up here that the River appeared red and with little effort dinner could be flipped out of the water. In the aftermath of a run, carcasses choked the waters and the stench of rotting fish filled the valley. With shovel and wheelbarrow, Nineteenth Century riverside gardeners scooped tons of fish into their vegetable patches: cheap fertilizer. But with the destruction of other rivers runs, fishers at sea have concentrated on the Frasers schools, reducing them so drastically that in the late 1990s, Canadian fishers and American, Native fishers and White, battle each other for a share of the depleting resource.
The Stó:loRiverpeople, writes Cheryl Coull in A Travellers Guide to Aboriginal B.C. (Whitecap Books, Vancouver, 1996), say that their ancestors were TransformersXexa:lswho switched their incarnation at will. As either Humans, Salmon or Cedars they settled disputes amongst people and taught life-skills which brought contentment and prosperity. Part of what Whites designate the Coastal Salish Tribes, the Stó:lo are a members of an alliance of the Halqemeylem People whose territory, Temexw, stretches along the Fraser from the end of the Canyon, twenty kilometres upstream, to the Rivers mouth. A traveller coming out from Vancouver on the Lougheed Highway would cross the Stó:los primary community, Seabird Island, just east of Matsqui, and might even have stopped for coffee or lunch at the Tribes Thunder Bird truck stop.
Simon Fraser was likely the first White that the Stó:lo saw, but long before his passage down the River in 1808, the Band had heard of the Hungry Peoplethe Spanish and the Britishfrom their acquaintances on the Coast. As well as informing the Stó:lo, the Coastal folks passed on the Europeans deadly gift, small-pox. In the 1760s and again forty years later the disease swept up the River. An estimated ninety per cent of the Stó:lo died. Twenty years after Fraser passed by, the Tribe found themselves sharing their River and its bounty with the HBC. The HBC erected a post, Fort Langley, thirty miles up the Fraser from salt water, and crewed it with fishers and coopers who trapped salmon and casked them for shipment to England and what they called the Sandwich IslandsHawaii. Though these first attempts to export salmon were not an unqualified success, the Whites kept after the fish. In 1876 Alexander Ewan built the first cannery on the Fraser and by 1883 there were 13 salmon-canning factories on the River, most gathered at its mouth. Drastic inroads were being made on the stocks and the Stó:lo could nothing to stop it.
The Whites who pursued Gold into New Caledonia in 1858 carried with them a tradition of treating Native people more or less as vermin. Savages had been of little account to the New-comers since their ancestors began arriving in numbers on the continent in the Seventeen Century. Where Indians occupied desirable lands, they were simply shoved aside, and if they expressed their resentment belligerently they were treated to a display of bloody European violence. Not even Tribes like the Cherokee who embraced the New-comers learning and religious mores were spared grief. Once established, this pattern of confrontation ruled most cultural interactions between Natives and New-comers as the United States founded itself and expanded its territories westward from the original Thirteen Colonies. This attitude came to the California gold fields with the arrival of the first of the 49ers. Native populations in the vicinity immediately began to plummet as the miners invaded the water courses and tore apart the riparian gardens in their hunger for Gold. So much better armed than the Natives, many Whites didnt feel the need to restrain their xenophobic impulses, and the protection of the Law did not extend to Natives. Any who protested, and many who didnt, died violent deaths over the next few years. Overwhelmed by malnutrition-caused diseases, alien bacteria, and murderous abuse, the First Peoples quickly faded from gold-rich California. This merciless, superior attitude accompanied the mining frontier as it moved up into Oregon and into British territory. The Cayuse War which had begun in 1855 between American invaders and the Natives in what is now the states of Washington, Idaho, and alpine Montana had sharpened animosities. Along the Fraser, if a miner wanted to sluice for gold on a Native familys fishing beach, the sluice was set up no matter how many fish the Natives could no longer catch. Caches of dried salmon were fair game to a hungry miner, as was any tool or boat that a miner might want. What was a peaceable clan of fishers to do? The Stó:lo and the Nlaka’pamux and their neighbours were familiar with guns, many had traded furs and fish for one, usually a mass-made British musket of middling quality from the HBC. Though the muskets with their fire and smoke were impressive, their delicate technology with frequent cleanings required, and the need to return to the trading post to get gun powder and balls, reduced their attractiveness, especially to fishing folk who relied on the River for their protein. The Stó:lo therefore had few. Miners, on the other hand, were well equipped with reliable repeating fire-arms and early on demonstrated a propensity, if not an eagerness, to employ them at the slightest provocation. The unfairness of the situation so affronted the British sensibilities of the men that ran the Crown Colony of Vancouvers Island that they, in the person of Governor Jas. Douglas, extended the rule of their law to the Fraser. On the rainy Friday of the 19th of November, 1858, write Patricia E. Roy and John Herd Thompson in their book British Columbia: Land of Promises for The Illustrated History of Canada series (Oxford University Press, Don Mills, ON, 2005), Douglas read into the record the proclamation of colonization of British Columbia. With the aid of a few hundred red-coated Royal Engineers and Royal Marines, Douglas soon began imposing British order on the Fraser. Not that it did the Natives any good.
Tragically, with British Law came British Bureaucracy, and the man who was appointed to handle the colonys relations with First Nations people was a simple bigot.
In Joseph Trutch and Indian Land Policy (British Columbia: Historical Readings, eds. W. Peter Ward and Robert A.J. McDonald, Douglas and McIntyre Limited, Vancouver, 1981), Robin Fisher writes that, when assuming control over territory, it was Great Britains usual policy to extinguish native claims to the lands if they had any well-defined tradition of ownership. The New Zealand Maori did and duly had reserves set aside for them: the Aborigines of Australia did not and were therefore shoved aside by settlers. James Douglas, ex-Hudsons Bay Coy. trader and first governor of the Crown Colony of Vancouvers Island and of the Crown Colony of British Columbia, of mixed-blood himself and married to Amelia, a French-Native woman, recognized that the Natives of B.C. did have a notion of land possession. Though he neglected to formalize any agreements by treaty, when he sent his commissioners to lay out Native reserves, he instructed them to ... mark out with corner posts whatsoever land the Indians claim as theirs..., always insuring that the bounded lands included at least 10 acres for every adult male in the band. This ensured spacious reserves and, Douglas believed, removed cause for future complaints.
Douglass philosophy was not universally shared, and the one man who did not cleave to it was the man Douglas himself in 1859 recommended to the powerful position of Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, J.W. (Joseph) Trutch. Trutch was an English supremacist who never changed his opinion that Indians ... are the ugliest and laziest creatures I ever saw & we shod. [sic] as soon think of being afraid of our dogs as them ..., that they were ... utter savages ... frequently committing murder and robbery ..., deserving to have English Law inflicted upon them ... at whatever cost.; presumably to the Natives. They stood, Trutch insisted, in the way of Colonial development. Douglas held Trutch in check, but when the Colonial Office careerist Frederick Seymour assumed the governorship of B.C. on April 21st, 1864, Trutch soon acquired the licence to transform his biases into policy. In July of 1865 the Gold Commissioner at Lytton, Phillip Nind, sent a letter to the Colonial Secretary in London, W.A.G. Young, opining that the Natives in the Thompson River valley had good, arable land aplenty which they did not, to Ninds mind, use productively. The letter, writes Fisher, was referred to Trutch for comment. The reserves in question, wrote Trutch, were ... entirely disproportionate to ... the requirements of the Indian Tribes. Purposely misinterpreting Douglass ten acre minimum rule, Trutch began to insist that this was an invariable in the formula used to calculate the maximum size of a reserve. The surveyor-generals office was instructed to trim the Reserves in many cases to a fraction of their original size and, despite the Indians insistent complaints, the trimmings were thrown open for pre-emption by Whites on January 1st, 1867. The Thompson valley adjustments were the first in a flood of reservation revisions.
Insisting that Natives made no real use of the land before the arrival of the White man and therefore had no inherent right to any of it, Trutch argued that the doctrine of terra nulliusempty landshould apply in the Colony of British Columbia as it did in Australia. He was not alone in this stance. Indeed, he was merely a man of his Times. Newspapers of the day were populated with editorials reflecting Trutchs views; column-inches packed with words like industrious settlers and red vagrants expressing sentiments that [c]olonization necessarily involves the contact, and practically the collision, of two races of menone is superior and the other inferior, the latter being in possession of the soil, the former gradually supplanting it... The age had changed, notes Fisher. No longer were White men in the region merely to trade, now they brought their women and came to stay. The old fur trade frontier was replaced by the new settlement frontier.
To enshrine his point of view in Law, when the Land Ordinance Act was revised in 1866, Trutch led the initiative which revoked Natives right to pre-empt property except with written permission from the Governor. In the entire Colony of B.C., there is only one recorded instance of this permission being granted. On one hand denied the freedom to pursue their traditional livelihoods in the wilderness, Indians on the other hand were prevented from integrating themselves into the new order. Most New-comers hoped and expected that Natives would just fade away but for a few surviving genomes which would blend into the greater gene pool.
Though obviously and painfully outmatched, not always did Natives accept the afflictions of the New-comers stoically. The war that the Tsilhqot’inChilcotinsoldiers fought during the summer of 1864 against trespassers in their territory and abusers of their People transfixed colonial attention for many months,1 but conflicts like this were rare in Canada, and short-lived. In the long run, their populations destroyed by exotic epidemics2 and their warriors defeated by the irresistible technology of the implacable invaders, the First Nations societies began to crumble and turn inward.
Cheryl Coull, in A Travellers Guide to Aboriginal B.C., confirms that, according to the terms under which B.C. joined the Canadian confederation in 1871, the province was considered to own all the land within its boundaries. Responsibility, however, for Native welfare was shifted to the jurisdiction of the Dominion government, particularly the Department of Indian Affairs which was organized under the Department of the Interior in May of 1880. This meant that, unlike in the federally administered North-West Territories, Ottawa could not set aside lands for Indian Reserves, but rather had to negotiate with Victoria for them. This was no easy task in the intolerant, grab-it-all frontier mentality of the times which merely ignored the fact that no First Nations on the B.C. mainland had ever even been given the option to agree to treaties surrendering their ancestral territory. What Indians needed or wanted, or were entitled to by the Common Law right of prior possession, simply counted for nothing. The Dominion government suspected that all was not well in B.C.s Native community, but Joe Trutch had been appointed the provinces first lieutenant-governor in 1871 and he persistently obstructed Ottawas attempts to address Indian complaints, constantly claiming that everything was just fine, thank you: he knew the Natives well, he averred, and the overwhelming majority were entirely satisfied with the status quo. By the time Trutch retired from office in 1876, that status quo had petrified within a shroud of law, rule and regulation. The injustice of the situation was well recognized by the Native population, but any petition for redress that they launched was simply ignored, for, until 1951, it was illegal for Bands to hire a lawyer to represent them, or even for three or more Indians to meet for the purpose of merely discussing land claims. For its part, states E. Brian Titley in A Narrow Vision: Duncan Campbell Scott and the Administration of Indian Affaris in Canada (University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, 1986), the Department of Indian Affairs did all it could to expedite the alienation of Native lands for the sake of its industrial pet, the CPR.
The two levels of government finally succeeded in setting up a joint Indian Reserve Commission which toured the province in the mid-1880s assigning reserves to Natives and redefining those already in existence.3 Consulting little with the People involved, the Commission demarcated bits of land less desirable to White settlers and required the Indians to abide thereon. From having the entire ecosystem from which to make their living, Indian Bands found themselves restricted to scattered patches the size of which was calculated using the formula of twenty acres per family. Moreover, as Coull points out, the land whereon Indians were required to live was not given over to them, rather it was held in trust by the Dominion government and when veterans returning from the Great War required farmlands, political expediency trimmed many a reserve further still, not to mention the right-of-ways for highways and logging roads, railroads, pipelines and electrical transmission lines that Natives have over the years been required to surrender for the convenience of the New-comers.
Their culture mocked and denigrated, legally denied the right to organize to press for redress of grievances, refused political enfranchisement in B.C. until 1949 and in Canada till 1960, the Twentieth was a traumatic century for Natives. Amazingly, though, the spirit has not been crushed out of them. They are recovering their pride. Increasingly educated and aware, they are insisting that the old wrongs be righted, and that the Tribes be compensated for their lost livelihood. Their arguments are, in this era of liberal politics, falling on increasingly sympathetic ears. Legally, Natives have excellent claims for restitution and at todays prices, their former territories are, of course, worth an incalculable amount of money. In 1990, the administrations in Ottawa and Victoria finally got together to address the Aboriginal issues, and three years later invited Natives to enter into treaty negotiations. After four years of dickering, on July 15th, 1998, the first agreement reached saw some 2,000 square kilometres of the Naas River valley and $190 million go to the Nisgaa nation of northern B.C., 111 years after the Tribe first sought clarification of its land rights and compensation for its losses. Whether other accords will soon be reached, or whether the governments will find it expedient to stall and quibble, remains to be seen.
Getting back to the Stó:los and salmon, so much did the Whites covet the Stó:los fish that in 1888 the Band was thereafter prohibited from participating in the business of fishing. Restricted to gathering a fish for food only, the Stó:lo watched in horror as their staff of life was destroyed year by year, run by run. Canning salmon quickly became big business on the lower Fraser, and entire runs of fish were netted as they headed up the River to spawn. So many were caught that by the thousands they were dumped dead back into the waters by the canneries choked with excess catch. Natives complaints only brought intensified restriction. For 100 years the Stó:lo and their Aboriginal relatives suffered this discrimination, but persisted in their efforts to have the laws over-turned. Patiently basing their arguments on ethical and moral grounds, and on the royal proclamation of 1763 in which King George III of Great Britain, as quoted by Ms. Coull, declared that ...[Aboriginals] should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us ..., Native lawyers finally convinced the Canadian Supreme Court in 1990 to expunge the objectionable laws and permit Indians to begin to reclaim their innate rights. This has led to conflict between Native and Non-native fishers as an under-funded, under-staffed Fisheries and Oceans Canada tries to implement confused policy as the wild salmon disappear.
An ancient grievance was moved closer to resolution around Christmas, 2005, over 120 years since the offence to place. Louie Sam was a 14 year-old Stó:lo boy in 1884 when a man was killed at Sumas in Washington Territory. Somehow young Sam was identified as the killer. At the request of U.S. authorities he was apprehended in B.C. by the Constabulary and detained in a farm house at Sumas Prairie pending an extradition hearing. Too impatient to await the verdict of British Law, a gang of some 120 yahoos, likely, surmises historian Keith Thor Carlson, agitated and led by the real killers, forcibly extricated Sam from the house, hanged him from the nearest suitable tree and rode back to Washington infused with the satisfied glow of a nasty job well done. Unfortunately, Sam was innocent, the victim of Canadas only lynching, and reported on the CBC News Online - British Columbia News Digest of December 22nd, 2005, Brad Owen, the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Washington, has offered an official apology to the Sam family for the injustice inflicted upon them lo these many years ago. Louie Sam was not guilty of this crime that all the evidence says, and we want to recognize that. We want to join together on the healing on this, recognizing that none of us believe this should have ever happened, and in this day and age we would have done everything we could to keep it from happening, said Owen. Deeming an apology to be litigiously risky and inappropriate as at the time of the outrage Washington had not been admitted to the Union as a State, the Washington House of Representatives tabled a resolution of deepest sympathy on March 1st, 2006. Parenthetically, it must be noted that Canada did nothing at the time to bring Sams, killers to justice; officially shrugged its diplomatic shoulders: whats one Indian more or less?
The Hudsons Bay Company
Until 1846, much to the irritation of the proponents of American Manifest Destiny, the English-owned Hudsons Bay Company (HBC, or the Coy.) controlled the Pacific watershed between Russian Alaska and Mexican California, a legacy which it had inherited from the 1821 coalition between itself and the organization which had prior claims to the region, the North West Company (NWC) of Montréal. This region the HBC divided it into two departments; Columbia, comprising the drainage basin of the Columbia River; and the old NWC district of New Caledonia, centred on Fort George on the upper Fraser River in what is now central B.C. The only and essential connection between the two Departments was by boat up the Columbia to the mouth of the Okanagan valley, and from there by horseback or foot up the Brigade Trail to Fort Kamloops and on to Fort Alexandra on the Fraser, thence by boat up to Fort George. Along this route every spring the furs came out to the Pacific and supplies went back in.
The Coys directors appreciated that the Americans would likely occupy the lands south of the Columbia River, but counted on Englands geo-political aims to preserve for the Empire what is now the State of Washington and the Province of British Columbia. They erred in their judgement, however, for to the Tory British government of Sir Robert Peel, north-western North America was an inconsequential backwater, and with but feeble protestation, Peels negotiator, Baron Ashburton, betrayed the Coys trust and acquiesced to American demands that the International Boundary be extended along the 49th degree of latitude west to the Pacific. The U.S. Congress voted on April 27th, 1846, to terminate the joint occupancy agreement on Oregon and with the signing of the Oregon Treaty on that July 15th, the Coys assets below the 49th were forfeit. Generously given 20 years by the Americans to wind up its affairs south of the Boundary, the HBC soon began withdrawing from the Territory, quickly removing its departmental headquarters from Fort Vancouver on the lower Columbia River to Fort Victoria on Vancouvers Island. Though the Coy had been, according to a footnote in George F.G. Stanleys edition of Charles Wilsons diary, Mapping the Frontier (Macmillan of Canada, Toronto, 1970), accorded navigation rights on the Columbia River ...on the same footing as the citizens of the United States by the Treaty of 1846, the Directors suspected that this provision would be, in reality, unenforceable. They directed that an all-British route be found to the Coys posts in New Caledonia.
The obvious choice was the Fraser River which had been fully explored in 1808 for the North West Company by Simon Fraser. The River arises far to the east in the Rocky Mountain Trench, flows north-west and then almost directly south until it breaks out of its canyon between the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges where it turns due west and slows to fill its valley with alluvium before disgorging into the Strait of Georgia south of Vancouver. The first hundred miles inland from the Coast the River is navigable, but a place which Fraser named Hells Gate for its narrowed, churning channel, bars boats from further progress. This impasse obliged the HBC to search for another way into New Caledonia.
Before the ink had even been applied to the Oregon Treaty, the Coy had agreed to the proposal of its factor at Fort Alexandra, Alexander Caulfield Anderson, that he find a way past Hells Gate. Leaving Fort Langley on May 28th, 1846, Anderson paddled up the River to the mouth of the Coquihalla River, cached his boats and followed the Coquihalla to the Nicolum, to Snass Creek and up into the Punch Bowl high in the Hozameen Range. From there he descended to the Tulameen River and hiked over into the Nicola River valley, striding into Fort Kamloops on the original Brigade Trail on June 9th. Though serviceable, Andersons route was torturous and was rarely used while the search continued for a better passage. This was found in 1848 by a Coy clerk, H.N. Peers, who bypassed the Nicolum for the Sosqua or Sowaqua and, scrambling up over Manson Ridge and through the jumble of mountains, intersected with and followed Andersons trail to the Tulameen and Fort Kamloops. This became the new Brigade Trail and saw its first brigade in the fall of 1849.
One fine day in the summer of 1848, the Stó:lo of Tsqo:ls gathered on the riverbanks to watch H.N. Peers and his party come ashore. This was good. Whites meant iron for fish-spear heads, colourful, useful cloth and other pretty and interesting things. Life in Tsqo:ls changed forever; one of lower B.C.s oldest European settlements was about to be established..
Peers had been sent on the orders of James Douglas, the chief factor of the Hudsons Bay Companys western department, to build a permanent post at the place where Anderson had cached his boats. Peers and his men erected a solid stockade with bastions at each corner, and set out on the second part of their assignment; to find a better trail through the Cascades to Kamloops. Reflecting the expectation and desire that these explorations would locate a trail which would be the Coys salvation, Douglas instructed that the post be named Fort Hope. Unfortunately, Fort Hope was destined never to blossom into a major post. For less than ten years was the new Brigade Trail vital to the HBC; the Coys shift away from the fur trade as its primary mercantile endeavour in its southern jurisdictions rendered the difficult route into the Interior increasingly unimportant, and Fort Hope withered.
Then, at about two oclock in the afternoon of June 6th, 1858, Captain Thomas Huntington nudged the Surprise in to shore at the Fort. Aboard were scores of American fortune hunters with but one thing on their minds: Gold.
Gold Rush, Royal Engineers and the Foundation of the Colony
Governor Douglas got the news that Indians were offering river gold in exchange for trade goods at the Companys posts along the Fraser in a letter from the factor of Fort Kamloops, Donald McLean, dated January 19th, 1857. Douglas instructed McLean to encourage the practice and even teach the Natives how to pan for nuggets and fine gold in likely places in creeks and rivers. The HBC quietly accumulated the bullion at their new headquarters at Fort Victoria and regularly dispatched it by ship to London where the Coys directors sold it at a handsome profit. Not wishing to suffer an invasion of its territory, the Coy stifled report of this aspect of its business. Despite their precautions, news of the Frasers gold soon had Victoria in an uproar of preparation and anticipation.
By the early 1850s the Californian gold deposits that had fired the Worlds imagination since 1849 were played out. Poor but hopeful prospectors had spread their search for treasure northwards. Up the Columbia, the first of these adventurers had reached British territory by 1856. Meanwhile, all of North America, enthralled with the fabulous fortunes made in California, hung on tenterhooks awaiting news of the next bonanza.
That news, according to Lindsay E. Smyth in The Origins of the Fraser River Gold Rush (Canadian West Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 1, Winter 1993), broke soon after Captain Jemmy Jones docked the Wild Pigeon at Olympia on Puget Sound early in March, 1858. Victoria, The Pioneer Democrat told its readers on March the 5th, was rioting with rumours of gold in the Fraser. Prospectors who had panned the sands of the lower Fraser had found them rich in gold, reported the paper. Reaching San Francisco, the news set the city abuzz when reported in the March 19th Evening Bulletin. By April 11th, when a Bay-area newspaper reported that the HBCs ship, The Princess Royal, was heading for London with 1000 ounces of gold aboard,4 the Bay area was exploding with excitement. Hundreds of Forty-niners, desperate to be first on the new gold grounds, fled the bars and the rooming houses and rushed north. Before the end of April the Columbia had set sail packed to the rails with hundreds of eager treasure seekers, while the Commodore had delivered 450 more directly to Victoria. They bought every pan and shovel in the settlement and, disregarding import duties, licence requirements and the other formalities required by the British, roared on up the Fraser. By the end of the summer, estimated the Victoria Gazette, 25,000 had passed through.
It was, of course, a startling revelation to the Salish that HBC traders would eagerly swap precious cloth and useful bits of iron for heavy little yellow river pebbles. Soon many were exploring this new source of wealth, enthusiastically participating Donald McLeans campaigns to find the stuff. It was a great resource in a fur-poor land, and the invasion of Whites fighting to sluice the sands clean of gold was deeply resented by the Natives. And not only did they fear that the gifts of their ancestral homeland would be wrenched from their possession, but the great disturbance that the newcomers were precipitating along the River would discourage the Salmons migrations. Denying the interlopers claims, the Salish maintained that the heavy, yellow pebbles and grains were not unowned, rather were part of the nature of their territory and not, therefore, free for the taking. At the very least a tariff must be paid from whatever the miners had brought in their packs.
This simple and just demand was rebuffed by the invading aliens. Ignoring Aboriginal sovereignty over ancestral territories, the miners quickly angered the Natives into bloody hostility. On August 14th, 1858, in what has become known as The Battle of Boston Bar, miners opened fire on a crowd of Salish gathered to protest the prospectors activities. Seven Indians died. Fearing Native retaliation, harbouring nationalist sentiments and recalling the old cry of Fifty-four Forty or Fight so often trumpeted by American politicians during the 1846 Boundary negotiations, the miners petitioned their government for protection. As the International Boundary was no more than a tentative mark on a map, and with the United States ever eager to expand its bounds, the HBC faced the real possibility of seeing the district of the Columbia and New Caledonia annexed to Washington Territory.
The HBC was militarily powerless, merely a trading company with few employees scattered throughout Britains Pacific territory. Its legal authority, based solely on its two-century-old royal charter giving it exclusive trading rights to portions of North America, was tenuous at best. It had, since 1849, held Vancouvers Island as a colony from the English crown, but had there relied upon the Jack Tars and marines from the base at Esquimalt for enforcement of basic laws.
Among those laws, writes G.W. Taylor in Mining: The History of Mining in British Columbia (Hancock House Publishers Limited, Saanichton, 1978), was one concerning mining. When James Douglas was appointed lieutenant-governor of Queen Charlottes Islands in September of 1852 following a mini-gold rush there, one of his first acts was to proclaim that all minerals belonged to the Crown. Prospectors, he decreed, would have to buy a licence in Victoria for ten shillings per month, payable in advance. Presumptuously extending his governorship to the mainland in an attempt to regulateand strip a little cash fromthe fortune hunters beginning to invade the region, Douglas declared on December 29th, 1857, that mining without a valid licence was a criminal offence. While reiterating that declaration on June 30th, 1858, Douglas also stipulated that an individual could stake a claim no larger than 144 square feet, and that 576 square feet was the maximum size of any claim that a minimum of four individuals could jointly register. To make that registration easier, on August 30th Douglas appointed Richard Hicks and O-J. Travaillot as Gold Commissioners at Fort Yale and Fort Dallas (now, Lytton) on the Fraser. However, with only those two to enforce the Governors decrees, the prospectors pretty much did as they pleased.
Even as miners were stampeding into British territory, though, discussions between Britain and the United States on how best to demarcate the Boundary concluded and commissioners were dispatched by both governments to begin the work. Comprising the British contingent were members of the Royal Engineers (R.E.), the cream of the British army, who began arriving in Victoria in July of 1858. On August 13th the Commissioners met on Roberts Pointnow Point Roberts, south of Vancouverand began their task. Having cleared the trees and brush from a strip 100 feet wide, and built cairns in prominent places along the 49th, they would reach the Continental Divide in late July, three years later.
As well as their surveying and construction responsibilities, the R.E.s assumed the duty of carrying the Governors authority to the gold camps on the Fraser. To do this effectively, the R.E.s commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Clement Moody, decided that he must have a force in camp on the River. Although Fort Yale was the actual head of Fraser navigation and was booming wildly, because of its proximity to the projected Boundary and its location at the head of the Brigade Trail, Moody chose Fort Hope, instructing his troops to set up a campsite approximately where the Kampgrounds of America is presently located. In the summer of 1859 he would have his men lay out a townsite around the old HBC fort. By that time the Fraser had disappointed most of the gold rushers and, save for a few die-hards still seining the sandbars, the River had reverted to the Native fishers.
Dewdney begins his trail
Even as the Royal Engineers were hastening to Victoria and Fort Langley, London was reconsidering its policies on the Pacific coast of British North America. On August 2nd, 1858, it created the Colony of British Columbia and appointed James Douglas, still the chief factor of the HBC and Governor of Vancouvers Island, as governor. At Fort Langley on November 19th, Douglas publicly proclaimed the creation of the Colony, and announced that the HBCs exclusive privilege to trade in New Caledonia, Ruperts Land and Athabaska was revoked. At Westminster in August, Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, had appointed Chartres Brew as police commissioner and Matthew Baillie Begbie as chief justice. With the aid of the Lieutenant-Colonel Moodys Royal Engineers, these men were to establish the rule of British law in the new colony.
The HBCs old Brigade Trail up the Okanagan valley was well used by men rushing to the gold creeks in British Columbias interior. Because the fledgling colony needed every farthing of income it could garner, Governor Douglas determined that, after imposing law and order on the fractious miners, his priority should be to convert the smuggling of goods into and gold out of his jurisdiction into legitimate commerce by the imposition of import duties and export taxes. As crews of the respective Boundary Commissions were finally at work, Douglas proposed to build a road, the Queenss Trail, to patrol the Boundary and establish customs houses on it. He appointed Colonel Moody of the Royal Engineers to the post of Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works and one of his lieutenants, Herbert Spenser Palmer, was commissioned to roughly determine an alignment for the road. On the 17th of September, 1859, in company with Chief Factor Angus McDonald who was returning to his post at Fort Colvile in the Columbia valley, Palmer set out from Hope. By the end of October the Lieutenant had got as far as a stream now called Rock Creek in which gold had recently been discovered.
Though the R.E.s had begun constructing a waggon road east from Hope in 1859, they were building it to their own, Roman, standards, and had only completed five miles that year. Faced with the possibility of more waves of invading treasure hunters, Douglas wanted a road right away. To that end he solicited tenders for construction of a four foot-wide packtrail through to Rock Creek which would see not only government service, but, for a toll, would carry public traffic. The winning bid was submitted Edgar Dewdney, a well-connected 24-year old graduate of the School of Engineering at Cardiff University.
Dewdney had arrived in Victoria via Panama on May the 13th, 1859, with a letter of introduction to governor Douglas from the British Colonial Secretary, Edwd. Bulwer Lytton. Douglas had referred the young engineer to Colonel Moody who was then in the act of laying out Queensboroughsoon renamed New Westminsteron the banks of the Fraser River to serve as the capital of the new Colony of British Columbia. Dewdney assisted Moody for a few months, but January of 1860 found him hiking, according to Brian Titley in his The Frontier World of Edgar Dewdney (University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, 1999), over the Hosameen Range of the Cascades at the behest of constable Peter OReilly, assessing the condition of the trail between Fort Hope and the Similkameen valley where gold was rumoured to have been found. This experience likely weighed in his favour when Douglas awarded him the contract to build the pack-trail that July.
With R.E. and, later, civilian, labour, Dewdney and his partner, Walter Moberly, set directly to work. Following where they could the natural path-ways long used by the Salish and their ancestors, they chopped their way eastward over the Hosameens and down towards the Similkameen, interrupting their task for want of funds that November. By that time, however, gold had been discovered in Rock Creek some 80 miles due east, and Douglas resolved to have the Trail extended thither. At the same time, to mollify the Colonys Coast-bound merchants who were watching what should rightfully have been their profits being siphoned off by their competitors south of the Boundary, Douglas ordered that the pack-trail be improved into a waggon road. Dewdney got the contracts in January of 1861, the latter one being worth £300 per mile. Only the Trail was completed, Dewdney, Moberly and crew finally arriving at Rock Creek that August to find that gold was gone and the miners had moved on. There being no need for it, with but 25 miles of it having been completed eastward from Fort Hope, Douglas suspended work on the Waggon Road. The Trail, however, would be extended again when gold was discovered in the creeks of the East Kootenay in 1864. Completed by Dewdney in 1865, the Dewdney Trail is the direct ancestor of the Crowsnest Highway.
As the head of Dewdneys trail, Hope enjoyed a few years of steady business outfitting fortune seekers heading inland. Though the gleam was gone from B.C.s rivers by the mid-1860s, the Trail continued to bring Hope a bit of income. The ranching industry had established itself in the Interior by the time the HBC abandoned its Hope post in 1872, and, as the major market for beef lay in Victoria and New Westminster, cattlemen in the Similkameen and Okanagan valleys like F.X. Richter, Tom Ellis, W.H. Lowe took to driving their herds over the Trail to Hope where they were penned until the R.P. Rithet, The Enterprise or the William Irving could transfer them to the Coast.
It was largely the cattle trade that enabled Hope to be there when Andrew Onderdonk and his crews began spending money in the neighbourhood in the spring of 1880. So profitable was the business that the Railways construction brought that the HBC returned to Hope for a spell to share in it, but when the CPR was completed in the mid-80s, the Coy. bade farewell forever to the little settlement it founded.
The precisely right-angled regiment of wide streets is not the only legacy left to Hope by the Royal Engineers. On the northern fringes of the Towns business district, under the spires of the Douglas-fir and cedars on Park Street at Fraser Avenue, stands the little grey on white wooden Christ Church Anglican. Designed by Captain J.M. Grant and raised by his troops, it was dedicated on November 8th, 1861. Three years later, on March 23, 1864, it sheltered the congregation come to witness the nuptials of Jane Shaw Moir and Edgar Dewdney. A block away, on Water Avenue at Douglas Street, is the Roman Catholic Our Lady of Good Hope, all shining white siding trimmed in angelic blue. Built to the specifications of the Oblate fathers, it, too, was dedicated in 1861, the exact date not being displayed. These structures are the oldest buildings in Hope, and, but for St. John the Divine now in Maple Ridge, are the oldest surviving churches in B.C.
Of the Fort itself, nothing remains except a cairn on the river bank and some artefacts in the little museum-cum-tourist information centre located on Water Avenue. Therein a cyclist can while away a rainy afternoon and screw up his courage for the impending climb up the face of the Cascades. The displays are augmented by a little reference library and a bookstore specializing in local history, and the Tourist Info. desk distributes maps copies of Accommodations B.C. which lists most of the privately run accommodations in the province. This free booklet, along with the road maps published by B.C. ParksProvincial Parks of the Cariboo-Shuswap-Okanagan, and Provincial Parks of the Kootenayswill serve well the traveller on the Crowsnest Highway.
South from the museum a few yards, Water Avenue lifts itself over a double run of railroad tracks on a 1963 overpass. In its entire run, this is the only place that the Crowsnest Highway encounters that other great Canadian railway system, the Canadian National.
Canadian National Railways
By 1900 dissatisfaction with the CPRs performance and what was generally perceived to be its arrogant attitude began to translate itself into political will. Clearly, competition from a second trans-Canadian railroad was needed to bring CP down a notch or two, and spur the development of the Prairie territories. Since the watershed federal election of 1896 the Company had been without the political protection of the Conservative party, and to the supporters of the ruling Liberals, the time seemed right to strike.
Travellers on the Crowsnest Highway neednt really know that the Liberals swung the hammer of chastisement twice and that the second blow fell on May 27th, 1904, creating the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway with a mandate to build a mainline from Winnipeg to Prince Rupert on the northern Coast. Though the GTP within fifteen years ended up forming a main constituent of the Canadian National, what interests us is the first blow.
In January of 1899, two Eastern Canadian railroad promoters and contractors, William Mackenzie and D.D. (Donald) Mann, amalgamated a couple of Manitoba roads that they ownedthe Winnipeg Great Northern Railway Company, and the Lake Manitoba Railway and Canal Companyand formed the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) with ambitious plans. Beginning at the end of LMR&C steel at Dauphin, MB, Mackenzie and Mann drove westward and northward along twin routes, eventually making the LMR&C, westward through Grandview, MB, and on into Saskatchewan towards Edmonton, their mainline. After protracted negotiations, on July 2nd of 1903, Ottawa passed a bill guaranteeing both interest and principal on construction bonds offered by the CNoR to complete its main through Edmonton and on to the Pacific Coast. For two years, Mackenzie, Mann and Company scrambled to sell the CNoRs bonds, managing to lay down 100s of kilometres of rail through what became the Province of Saskatchewan on September 1st, 1905. Finally, money in hand, Mackenzie and Mann pushed westward from their bridge over the North Saskatchewan River at Borden in the spring of 1905 and that December 17th, the CNoRs first passenger train arrived in Edmonton. Facing the daunting task of building through B.C.s cordillera and on to the Pacific, the CNoR incorporated its Canadian Northern Alberta Railway and pushed westward from Edmonton only slightly over the next five years. Instead it concentrated its efforts on building a rail net across the Prairies to bring traffic to its mainline and earn land grants.
In the late summer of 1905, from the CPR Mainline at Carberry, Manitoba, the Grand Trunk Pacific also began building westward. Due to its meticulous method of construction and poor materials management, it wasnt until July of 1909 that the GTP laid down the last mile of its 665-miles odyssey to arrive in Edmonton. In what has to be the most feeble-minded blunder in Canadas economic history, egoism and self-serving politics now had two railroads poised to build through the Rocky Mountains to B.C.s northern coast. Compounding the folly, a court battle had decided that both railroads were entitled to use the narrow Yellowhead Pass and trace each others path all the way to the Pacific port of Prince Rupert. Not only did their projected lines across B.C. present some expensive engineering challenges, but the terrain through which they went had little potential to generate traffic. While the GTP pushed inland from Prince Rupert, the frugal Canadian Northern hesitated, lobbying in Victoria and hoping that the B.C. government would pony up some cash to help build its road.
With an election scheduled for the following November 25th, on October 20th, 1909, the premier of B.C., Richard McBride, announced his governments new railway policy. In The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Development of Western Canada, 18961914 (McGill-Queens University Press, Montréal, 1989), J.A. Eagle points out that though McBrides Conservatives enjoyed a solid majority in the Victoria parliament, the premier sought to ensure re-election by the time-honoured method of throwing wads of cash at any person or thing that he thought might benefit him politically. He could do that; thanks to the efforts of his minister of finance, R.G. Tetlow, B.C.s coffers were groaning under the weight of wealth earned from the exploitation of the provinces abundant natural resources. Among other proposals, the new policy ear-marked money for the CNoR. But at a price. In his History of the Canadian National Railways (The Macmillan Company, New York, 1973), G.R. Stevens writes that, in exchange for a guarantee of the principal and interest to $35,000 per mile on bonds issued by Canadian Northern for construction of its mainline through B.C., McBride required that the route be changed to run from the Lower Mainland up through the heart of the province to the Yellowhead. As well, Mackenzie and Mann would have to incorporate a provincially chartered subsidiary whose ticket prices and freight rates would be dictated by Victoria. Further, proceeds from the sale of the companys bonds would be held in the provinces treasury and moneys paid out only upon presentation of certificates of completion. Besides the standard completion time requirements, the only other proviso was that no Oriental labour was to be used. Unperturbed by any of the governments demands, Mackenzie and Mann got busy floating their bonds. On March 21st, 1910, the Crown assented to the incorporation of the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway, and the following June 23rd Mackenzie and Mann contracted a Foley, Welch and Stewart subsidiary, the Northern Construction Company, to build a high quality roadbed with grades not to exceed 0.05% and lay 80-pound rails upon it gauged to 56 and one-half inches, standard gauge. Having decided to terminate their line in the Lower Mainland and parallel their trackage to the CPs Mainline as far as Kamloops before breaking away to snake it up the North Thompson River to the Yellowhead, Mackenzie and Mann negotiated a deal with the railroad magnate, J.J. Hill, to begin building the CNoR from the end of Hills Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway (VV&E) line at Sumas Landing on the Fraser near Chilliwack. In exchange for the use of VV&E trackage into Vancouver, Mackenzie and Mann gave Hill the right to run GN trains to Hope whence Hill intended to extend his VV&E across southern B.C. Though the deal was signed on May 22nd of 1911, it is possible that construction began the previous summer. Be that as it may, according to T.D. Regehr in The Canadian Northern Railway (Macmillan Company of Canada, Toronto, 1976), sometime in late 1911 construction crews laid the Canadian Pacific Northerns rails across Water Street to build a little depôt a bit farther along and lay in a wye and a siding before continuing up the Fraser. GN added a turn-table fed three stall enginehouse in 1916 as it prepared to integrate the HopePrinceton trackage of the KVR into its VV&E system.
Looking back, historians can plainly see the foolishness of building two rail lines so close together across Saskatchewan and Alberta. In hindsight, it is obvious that the West would not be able to support such competition. However, in 1910 few people could see that Europe would not be able to settle their differences without resorting to arms and when Mars finally unsheathed his thirsting sword the capital markets of North America were shocked to see ready continental cash vanish into munitions stockpiles. By the time William Mackenzie drove the last spike into his mainline on January 23rd, 1915, both the Canadian Northern and the Grand Trunk Pacific were in financial peril. Early the next year the Royal Commission to Inquire into Railways and Transportation in Canada was appointed and in 1917 it recommended that the GTP and Canadian Northern be amalgamated and administered by the government. On June 6th, 1919, the Canadian National Railwayssince 1997, Railway (CN, or CNR) was incorporated with David Blythe Hanna, a former Canadian Northern officer, as president. As well as the GTP and Canadian Northern, CN eventually constituted itself from 221 big and little railroads and related operations in North America, and since privatization with the federal passage of the CN Commercialisation Act of July 13th, 1995, is continuing to expand.
Just south of the CNR overpass, perched on the north edge of the terrace overlooking the CN tracks, the big, white Canadian Northern Railway station gazes down on the roofs of Hope. Built in 1915, the Station was removed to its present location some years ago and is now home to the Rainbow Junction Tea House. The little gallery on the second level is packed with works by local artists and spills its displays down the stairs and out onto the main floor. In the front parking lot, the remains of the enormous post and lintel arch which formerly marked the western end of the Crowsnest Highway has chiselled into its log crossbeam Hopes boast from the No. 3s early days; Gateway to Holidayland.
Highways and Motors
At the south-west corner of the Rainbows parking lot, Water Street gets mangled in a mammoth concrete interchange which the Ministry of Transport and Highways (MoTH) emplaced in 1985 to feed part of the Trans-Canadas traffic onto the provinces new Highway 6 which, for a toll, streams vehicles over the Cascade Mountains to and from the Lower Mainland. The Interchange is a monster, roaring with cars and trucks frustrated at having to slow down for the first time since leaving Vancouver.
Monster or not, to drivers with someplace to be five minutes or hours or days ago, the Interchange is the acme of the traffic engineers art. A far cry from 1913 when the provincial government formed the Highways Branch within the Department of Public Works. That year there were but 3,700-odd licensed drivers in the province. Hundreds more, however, were expected to learn the skill yearly. This promised to swamp the by-ways of B.C. with cars which, though more sanitary than the horse, tore up the typical countryside road surfaces something fierce in anything but absolutely clement weather. At first the Branch concentrated on upgrading heavily used existing trails with a layer of gumbo mixed with sand. When dry, gumbo is as durable as concrete, but moistened by even a moderate dew it exhibits all the frictional qualities of greased ice. Adding sand, it was hoped, would slow the skid-rate of rainy-day motorists. It worked well enough to encourage some 30,000 British Columbians to buy motor vehicles by January 1st, 1922, when, to mesh with the rest of North America, B.C. switched and began driving on the right-hand side of the road.5 What a circus that must have been. The number of vehicles doubled within six years and kept on doubling until, by the end of 1949, when the Crowsnest Highway opened, there were 270,000 vehicles registered to use the roads of B.C. As of May, 1997, there were three million with hundreds more added each day. The Ministry of Highways was set up in 1954 and collected other portfolios until 1979 when it evolved into the senior partner in the MoTH, renamed Ministry of Transport in 2001. Rarely these days does it use mud for surfacing major thoroughfares.
The Coquihalla Section of the KVR
The double-decked bridge, CPs and CNs rail yards and the old Canadian Northern station are not the only attractions Hope holds for rail buffs. About eight kilometres east of Town are the famous Quintette Tunnels, hacked out of the living rock to carry the Kettle Valley Railway through the spectacular Coquihallas gorge and send it on up the valley on the most dangerous railroad alignment in B.C. Though gone these many years, the KVR was the western portion of what the CPR called its Southern Mainline, the Crowsnest Highways oft-time companion on the entire length of its journey.
Through urbanized woods the Kawkawa Lake Road leads travellers to Othello Road which passes the gates of the Nestlé Waters Pure Life water bottling plant on its way directly to the Tunnels. Those prepared, however, to pedal a bike can approach the Tunnels the way they were designed to be approached; on the railway right-of-way. The rails are gone from this stretch of road bed since 1962 and frequent use by hikers and bikers has worn much of it quite smooth. Close to Town, however, housing developments have gobbled up sections of the road bed, pieces are privately owned and fenced off, well-thorned blackberry thickets have colonized other parts. Best to follow Kawkawa Lake Road across the Coquihalla River and on for a kilometre or so and peel of to the right on short little Kettle Valley Road. Past the houses, negotiate the barrier at the end of the pavement and away you go up the gently inclined path along the high right bank of the Coquihalla. Lovely; classic recovering rain-forest bio-regime. Dripping ferns muffle the clatter of the River in its rocky bed, sunlight filtering through adolescent cedars splotches the trail with golden pools, rivulets break from the hillside and dribble upon the trail to cut wheel-twisting, ankle-turning channels to bedrock. Great, greasy, grey slugs slime their way across the path. Breathing in the moist fragrance of the forest, listening and looking for birds, a traveller fortunate enough to be on this trail in late June or early July will notice bushes festooned with berries. For free, two of natures most exquisite offerings; blueberry elder fruits, and thimbleberries. The blueberries, fat, indigo and sweet like no blueberry on a grocers shelf, dripping in clumps from bushes which can rise to thirty feet, are bears favourite and grow in the ditches all along the B.C. portion of the Crowsnest Highway. Taste them here, on the banks of the Coquihalla, where they are untainted by highway residues. A chunk of cheddar, a Stoned Wheat Thin or three and presto; brunch. Thimbleberries, on a large leafed, thornless cane resembling its close cousin, the raspberry, are bright red and fine grained with a sharp flavour and sandy texture like nothing else. Because they tend to startle the North American palate and do not ripen simultaneously on their bushes, these delicacies are unavailable to most people. Pick the reddest ones which fall readily from their buttons, blow off any little bugs you see and introduce your taste-buds to nirvana. Though the best likely grow right here, like the blueberry, thimbleberries grow along most of the No. 3s route through B.C.
Doubtless to bar the way to motorized off-roaders, by the summer of 1995 a fence had been emplaced across the trail just before the tunnels. More of an inconvenience than the impasse to hikers and cyclists, the fence is nevertheless a nuisance, requiring some muscle and ingenuity to bypass. Alternatively, cycles can be locked to it and, finished inspecting the tunnels, bikies can return to town on the right-of-way.
Beyond the first couple of tunnels a bridge carries strollers over the gorge. Below, the raging River beats itself into a mist against the confining rock walls. The Bridge is a new structure, the old one having been given to the army to blow up for practice back in the 1960s when the destruction of bridges was counted upon to play a key rôle slowing the advance of the Red Menace as it washed down from Alaska. A decade or two after the original bridge was destroyed, some bright spark in the local tourist bureau realized what an attraction these old tunnels would be if only visitors could see them without risking their lives. The idea resonated and a parking lot was scraped out of the bush near Kawkawa Lake Road, the right-of-way above the tunnels smoothed and the new solid decked, railingd Bridge was constructed. As the Coquihalla Canyon Recreation Area, the site was dedicated in July of 1987.
From the Bridge one can appreciate what a feat it was to align a right-of-way through this wild defile. Working from baskets dangling from ropes secured to the tops of the cliffs, daring drillers in the employ of this sections main contractors, the MacArthur Brothers, pounded holes into the rock face and set their charges according to the directions of the KVRs redoubtable chief engineer, Andrew McCulloch.
The blasting of the Quintette Tunnels was the one of the last projects in the completion of the Coquihalla Section which was itself the final link in the CPRs Southern Mainline, an amalgamation of several shortand not so shortlines in southern Alberta and B.C. that the Company acquired during its ferocious expansion of the 1890s. Officially (Dominion 60-61 Victoria Ch. 5) referred to at its eastern end as the Crows Nest Line (CNL), and at its western end as the Kettle Valley Line (KVL), this second mainline won for Canadian Pacific the railway war of southern B.C., and gave the Company an alternative to its avalanche-plagued Mainline.
The Coquihalla Section was a brutally expensive piece of track to lay, partially because it was shared with the Great Northern Railways subsidiary, the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway, which insisted that the bridges and trestles be made to carry the heavy motive power which the GN envisioned running. As with the rest of the KVR, the Sections construction was entrusted to CPs able civil engineer, Andrew McCulloch. In the mere 36 miles from Hope to summit of the Coquihalla Pass (1111m), McCulloch had to install 43 bridges,6 bore thirteen tunnels and raise sixteen snowsheds totalling some two miles in aggregate length. Finally declared finished and open for traffic on July 31st of 1916, the Sections costs, reports R.D. Turner in his Steam on the Kettle Valley : A Railway Heritage Remembered (Sono Nis Press, Victoria, 1995), totalled $136,000 per mile, five times the average 1913 cost-per-mile of other Canadian railroads. Reports Hal Riegger in The Kettle Valley and its Railways (Pacific Fast Mail, Everett, WA, n.d.), on the 14th and 15th of September, 1916, in company with select officials, CPR president Shaughnessy rode the KVR from Midway to Pétain and declared himself completely satisfied with every aspect of the line.
The CPR hoped that, between the KVL and the Mainline, Nature could never again cut the Companys connection between the Coast and the rest of Canada. It was hope in vain. With an average grade of 2.2%, the Coquihalla Section was expensive to operate, requiring helper locomotives for all but the lightest of trains. Tight curves meant that track crews were constantly re-aligning and replacing rails. Snow, however, was the real bane of the Section. In the high Coquihalla an average of 11.5 metres of it falls annually. Not even a pair of powerful rotary snow-ploughs, 800802 at Brookmere and 800805 at Hope, could keep the line clear. In her Exploring the Kettle Valley Railway (Polestar Press Ltd., Winlaw, B.C., 1989), Beth Hill writes that winter after winter tonnes of snow and rock and trees crashed down from the slopes of the Cascades and buried the rails and anything on them. On many a year the CPR simply abandoned the section for a couple or three months beginning in January, the start of the high snow season. Particularly bad, records Turner in Steam on the Kettle Valley : A Railway Heritage Remembered, was the winter of 193132 when 60 slides, rockfalls and washouts damaged the Line. Summer, too, was often unkind, for fire frequently savaged the wooden snowsheds, trestles and bridges. In 1938, as well as consuming three major bridges, flames burned away much of the surrounding forest, leaving little to anchor the winter snow pack.
The costs in lives and lost revenues and reconstruction finally out-weighed the utility of the Section and so, when torrents of melt waters ripped out miles of roadbed on November 23rd of 1959, the CPR gave up the fight. On January 9th, 1961 it announced the permanent closure of the Section and received governmental permission to abandon it that July. Salvage operations began almost immediately. The Dominion Bridge Company came in and dismantled most of the steel bridges, leaving one to be demolished by the Canadian Army for practice, and a couple of others standing because they were not economical to salvage. At the same time, CPR crews ripped up the rails, drawing the last spike on October 24th of 1962. By that time, too, the Crowsnest Highway had stolen most of the KVRs freight, Canadian Pacific Airlines had been flying its DC-3s into the larger Interior centres for two years, and seventy years of expenditure had made the Mainline much more reliable. The last of the KVR Sections to be completed, the Coquihalla was the first to be abandoned.
The subsequent closure and lifting of rails from the rest of the KVR subdivisions has left the old right-of-way open to cyclists, and several adventure tour companies such as Great Explorations are offering catered expeditions along the route. Over the years gangs of local rails to trails enthusiasts have put railings on bridges, removed the worst swashes of the wheel-swallowing ballast and smoothed the washboard of tie ruts from long stretches. Still, the ride will appeal mainly to hardy souls who are advised to mount themselves on full suspension and wear a class A kidney belt. A loaded touring cyclist had best stick to the Highway and enjoy a vicarious ride on the KVR in the pages of Dan and Sandra Langfords detailed Cycling the KVR (Rocky Mountain Books, Calgary, 1994), or on Dans website, Cycling the Kettle Valley Railway.
Even as hundreds of gold panners were struggling to sluice their fortunes from the sandbars of the Fraser river below, in 1858 the Murphy brothers were trudging the tributaries cutting out of the mountains to the east of the River, looking for the source of the gold. In the shale/argillite country rock within a days walking distance almost due north of Fort Hope they found a polymetallic vein of mineralized quartz. Sinking a shaft, they opened what is thought to be the oldest lode mine in B.C., removing high-grade silver-lead (galena) ore tainted with zinc and gold and sending it to the metals works in Swansea, Wales, for smelting. Though the claim was issued Mining License No. 1 under the Mineral Ordinance of 1869, by then most of the worthwhile ore had been removed and the mine was little worked over the years. In 1924, the mid-60s and again in the early 1990s some exploration drilling was conducted on the Murphy Crown grant and the surrounding Margie claim. Nothing exciting was found and the Verdstone Gold Corporation concluded that it had mis-spent their cash on a 13-hole drilling program in 1996.
Just south-west of Fort Hope, recalls Garnet Basque in The Forgotten Mines of Silver Peak Mountain (Canadian West Magazine, Vol. 8, No. 4, Autumn 1992), a Stó:lo man who some called George Wil-willuts found some interesting rocks in the defile of whats now called Eureka Creek, a minor Fraser River tributary. At Emory Bar he showed samples to George Thomas Schooley and George Dunbar. They found the rocks interesting, too, and convinced Wil-willuts to show them the source. The rocks, it turns out, had tumbled down into the defile from thousands of feet up on the side of what was thenceforth known as Silver Peak, and up it Schooley and Dunbar scrambled to stake the Eureka and the Victoria on a vein of galena-laced quartz in Eocene conglomerate. They were issued the first Crown grant in British Columbia. In September of 1871 the pair formed the Eureka Silver Mining Company, capitalized to $150,000. Such good salesmen were they that a consortium of Victoria-based businessmen including R.P. Rithet soon bought their interests for $80,000. The company sunk several exploratory adits into the lode and on January 23rd, 1872, one of the investors, Sewell P. Moody, set off for the San Francisco Assaying and Refining Works in San Pablo Bay, California, with and eight ton sample from the Eureka. The ore was valued at $395 per ton, enough, barely, to warrant the effort of developing a mine, the Eureka, the ore from which Indians packed on foot down the mountain to a place accessible to mules where it was reloaded for the last of the 10 miles to the riverboat wharf at Hope. From a second mine, the Victoria, a sample later assayed at $24000/ton in silver, $40 in gold. Another mine, the Van Bremer, named after a company investor, was opened, and the project seemed to be making money enough to keep people interested until Moody and another investor, Frank Garesche, died in the wreck of the Pacific in the Straits of Juan de Fuca on November 4th, 1875. Disagreements between the owners and the mines managers proved so traumatic for the company that it went out of business soon after.
After the Eureka Silver Mining Company shut down its operations in the later 1870s, Silver Peak Mountain sat undisturbed, the object of much speculation. Come the summer of 1920, with two railroads and a serviceable high road running across the Silver Peaks toes, Arthur S. Williamson took a stroll up onto the Mountain to see what remained of the old works and investigate the mines. His enthusiasm for his discoveries infected G.D.B. Turner of Vancouver and together they reactivated and consolidated the claims and succeeded in dispatching a five-ton sample to a refiner at Swansea, Wales. The returns did not warrant the continuation of mining. The Mine saw development work done in 1961 but no pay removed. The group consisting of the Eureka, the Victoria and the Victoria West in 1981 enticed Vanstates Explorations Limited to mine a few more holes into the property to determine that the ore located would still not be worth the cost of removal.
Most of the gold panners had disappeared from Hopes reach of the River by 1860, but over the following decades the promise of the Murphy brothers find and the Eureka drew fortune hunters of a more enduring nature into every crook and cranny of the mountains surrounding Hope, at first looking for lodes of gold or silver, and later, as the age of electricity and machine-guns unfolded, for the baser metals of copper and lead. The Ward was claimed and worked in 1905 to extract some 4,000 grams of gold. In 1910 showings on the Steamboat Mountain claim just south-east of Hope had the local mining world abuzz until it was discovered that the ores had been salted with traces of gold blasted from the barrel of a shotgun. Little else was found until prospectors following the line of the KVR survey crews up the Coquihalla River valley stumbled upon showings of gold-bearing quartz veins in the Coquihalla Gold Belt some 15 kilometres north-east of Hope. Near the East Hozameen Fault in 1913 Messieurs Merrick, Thompson and Beech staked the several claims, among them the Emancipation. With venture capital in short supply during the Great War, it wasnt until 1916 that a mine was developed. By 1919 the mine had yielded some 1425 ounces of gold worth $35,000 from 95 tons of ore sent to the American Smelting and Refining Companys plant at Tacoma, Washington. Come 1921 the Liberator Mining Company had installed a 12 ton/day five-stamp crushing mill and a further 35,000 dollars worth of gold extracted. An aerial tram was strung between the mine mouth and the mill and a succession of owners worked the property intermittently until 1933 when Dawson Gold Mines, Limited, apparently acquired it. Dawson held it till 1938, allowing the Kettle Valley Gold Mine, Limited, to mine it in 1937. Production finally petered out in 1941, the mine having given up 90,000 grams of gold, 19,000 of silver. Thirty years later Aquarius Resources acquired the Emancipation and it associated claims and leases, and consolidated them into the Hope group. Aquarius built an all-weather road into the site, conducted years of exploratory drilling and walked away in 1981, leaving Hope to the Anglo Swiss Mining Corporation which has done little since.
Near the Emancipation, the Aurum mine was located in 1928 and worked from 1930 to 1932 and again from 1939 to 42. Over its lifetime it produced about 530 ounces of gold and 100 ounces of silver. Its contemporary, the Pipestem, did not as well, out-putting less than 300 ounces of gold and 2 pounds of silver between 1935 and 1937. Other properties mentioned in regional records are the Rush of the Bull, the Golden Cache, the Snowstorm, and the Marvel.
Twelve miles up the Fraser from Hope and west up Texas Creek the Pride of Emory was located in 1923. A nickel/copper deposit with traces mainly of gold, silver and cobalt, it was developed by the B.C. Nickel Company from 1926 and shipped its first ores seven years later. Market pressures forced its closure in 1938. Western Nickel Mines, Limited, a child of Newmont Mining, Limited, and Pacific Nickel Mines, Limited, began redeveloping the property in 1952 and were enough encouraged that it built a mill. Production from the Giant Nickel mine began in 1958 and ended with the lodes conomic exhaustion in 1974. In 2000 Homestake Canada, Limited, began quarrying granites, granodiorites and quartz diorites from the property, while the Corona Corporation re-evaluated the Mines potential for producing more ore.
Probably the hottest property to lately brace Hopes economy is the Idaho/McMaster, six kilometres from the Emancipation. In 1974 Carolin Mines, Limited, began a program of investigation which culminated in the construction of an underground mine and an open pit and a 1500 ton/day floatation/cyanide mill. Having invested $40 million in the project, Carolin commenced production in December of 1981 and realized some 45,000 ounces of gold from 900,000 tonnes of milled ore before falling commodity prices, mis-management, a flawed mill process and a conviction for environmental infractions under the Fisheries Act dictated a halt in September, 1984. Athabaska Resources, Limited, spent $3 million on further exploration of the property in 1995/6, but declined to mine.
From the end of the lower Fraser gold rush in 1860 until the coming of the CPR gangs 20 years later, Hope must have been a pretty quite place. Some of the Royal Engineers retired in the neighbourhood to pursued agriculture along the shores of the Fraser. Cattle driven over the Dewdney Trail from the Similkameen and Okanagan were penned near the community awaiting steamers to take them downriver to market. A few trees must have been cut down for commercial purposes before John Coe established the settlements first sawmill in 1889 and used ox teams to log todays townsite and surrounds. Onderdonks CPR construction crews came and went leaving a ferry in operation across the River between the settlement and the Railways station and tote road on the Frasers right bank. After a further 20 years of slumber Hope woke up when the CNoR and then the KVR built into town. With stations and rail yards and the only bridge across the Fraser for miles, Hope was definitely not going to fade away, especially when motor traffic began venturing up the highways from the Lower Mainland. In the late 20s the federal Department of Transport, mentions T.M. McGrath in his History of Canadian Airports - Second Edition (Lugus Publications, Toronto, 1992), designated the community as a stop on the Trans-Canada Airway, establishing a field likely where Hopes current facility is located, west of town perhaps ten kilometres by the Kampground of Americas property in the Trans-Canada Highway. On April 6th, 1929, Hope won incorporation as a District and continued to grow with the decades to become a Town on January 1st, 1965. As the major cross-roads at the head of the Frasers valley, on December 7th, 1992, it was declared a District Municipality.
East from Hope: Nine Mile Hill and treacherous Outram
Travellers with picnicking on their minds might perhaps purchase a few eatables from the Overwaitea store, also on Third. A major B.C. food store chain, Overwaitea started from one store opened by R.C. Kidd in Vancouver after World War One and got its name from Kidds loss-leading gimmick of selling eighteen ounces of tea for the price of sixteenover-weight tea. Why its not Overweightea, only Mr. Kidd knows, but typical of the chain, the Hope store has excellent fresh produce and bulk-bin departments.
Speaking of chains and outlets, one banking company in particular has colonized the Crowsnest Highway from end to end. If a community is large enough to support a bank, that bank will likely be a the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) or an automatic teller located on a business premises. Rossland is actually the only substantial settlement that at turn-of-the-Millennium remains free of the very profitable Commerce.
Having walked the Rambo tour and visited the bike lady at the corner of Raab and Third streets for a tune-up, the traveller abandons Hope.
Born in the concrete off-ramps of the Interchange by the Rainbow Junction, the Crowsnest Highway roars east from Hope in four-lane divided tandem with the new Coquihalla Highway, No. 5. After some seven kilometres and several 1985 concrete beamed and decked bridges over such streams as Two Mile, Alexander, Berkey, the No. 5 tires of its elderly relative and diverges northward, climbing into the pass for which it is named, heading for Kamloops and Kelowna. With it goes two-thirds of the traffic. Alone on four undivided lanes, No. 3 bends around the little toe of Hope Mountain and heads south-east.
Hope, on the edge of the Cascades, lies at 42 metres above mean sea level, and with just fifty kilometres in which to reach the 1350m high Allison Pass, the Highway cant afford to dawdle on level grades. Beyond the 3/5 junction, the climbing Highway follows the little defile of Nicolum Creek past the nine showerless sites of the provincial Nicolum River campground, soon crosses the River on a 1981 concrete beam bridge and bites into Nine Mile Hill. Though the Hill is really named for its distance from Hope, cyclists maintain that the name reflects the length of its grade which approaches toward 8% in some places and is definitely guaranteed to work the kinks out of the quads, kids. Some bikers claim that this is the worst climb on the Crowsnest Highway, but those folks are likely residents on The Coast and are just setting out on a trip with riding muscles not yet steeled to the test. Whatever, it is the first of several worthy inclines with which the Highway will test a cyclists resolve between here and the crest of the Rockies.
As likely as not, somewhere on the Hill, drivers will have to flick their windshield wipers and cyclists break out their slickers. On a typical day the prevailing westerlies shove thousands of tons of warm, moist Pacific air up the face of the Cascades. Cooling, the moisture condenses and drops. All this vegetation; the ferns, the salal, the huge maples and the few stately cedars which the loggers have spared wouldnt decorate these slopes if not for abundant rains, some 60 inches per year of it in this valley. Lucky cyclists will likely be only slowly soaked by a steady drizzle; the unlucky will suffer a miserable and dangerous few miles as mist and the wheel spray from the trucks obscure the roadway.
As often as not socked in by fog as they approach the top of Nine Mile Hill, travellers cannot see the evidence of disaster until they are upon it. Hulking chunks of broken mountainside fill the valley and, glimpsed through the shredding overcast, an expansive white scar disfigures the shoulder of the mountain to the left. At 3:56 in the morning of Saturday, January 9th, 1965, a tiny tremor epicentred in the Cascades south of here signed in on seismographs all along the West Coast. It was a minor quiver, one of hundreds which buzz through this region annually, no real warning of the event which followed 182 minutes later. At 6:58, shaken loose by æons of trembles, 46,000 cubic metres of limestone from Johnsons Peak of Mount Outram crashed down into the valley. In seconds, a mile of Highway and the three vehicles upon it disappeared under a hundred kilotonnes of rock and splintered trees. Four people were eventually determined to be missing. Only one car was ever found; the acres of shattered stone serves as a monument for two people. In places the debris lies 85 metres thick, and upon it at the top of Nine Mile Hill stands an interpretive centre with a panoramic view of the destruction and sign-boards explaining the complete story of the tragedy. A bronze plaque on a nearby memorial names the slides victims,7 as well as lists the six dead in two aircraft crashes on this same mountain within a year of the slide. For the visitors added elucidation, signage also answer the question, Whats with all the red trees? Mountain Pine Beetles, is what.
The Slide actually occupies the head of the Sumallo River valley which, surprisingly, tilts eastward to dump its waters into the southward draining Skagit River system. Happily for cyclists left rubber-legged by Nine Mile Hill, theyre going to be gliding down a gentle grade for a few miles. To the south rises Silvertip Mountain which at 2591 metres is the highest peak in the Canadian Cascades. At its foot, just east of the slide, lies a collection of buildings optimistically called Sunshine Valley, unincorporated (±700m). With a large and a small barn peeking out of a copse of trees behind, a business-like fence facing the Highway and an absence of commercial enterprises, it resembles an exclusive agricultural commune. It is, in fact, a privately owned community the residents of which have all been personally vetted by the owner.
The property has a chequered history. Sources unfortunately not noted by your humble author claimed that pioneers unnamed homesteaded here before the turn of the twentieth century and ran a dairying operation that might possibly have been called 14 Mile Ranch because of its distance from Hope. The current owners declare that Amos B. Trites acquired the land in the 20s and named it Hope Ranch. In the 1930s it hosted of one of the 237 work camps in B.C. that the Department of National Defence ran from May 1st, 1933, to June 30th, 1936, to hold the idled young men who would otherwise have been demonstrating their frustrations in the streets of Vancouver. In February of 1942 this location slipped farther into infamy when, after the young men found jobs in the armed forces, their empty bunk-houses here became Camp Tashme.
Japanese Prisoners in the Sunshine Valley
Remembering Premier McBrides anti-Oriental proviso in his aid proposal to the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway, it can come to no surprise that racism, despite protests to the contrary and a good deal of sanctimonious finger waving at the United States, has enjoyed a long and robust history in Canada. Natives, Blacks, Québécois, Irish, Ukrainians, and whoever; all feel still the Protestant lash of British bigotry. Here on the Coast the Chinese and Japanese bore the brunt of intolerance. So, when Pearl Harbor was savaged by the Imperial Fleet on December 7th, 1941, and Hong Kong and its Canadian defenders over-run by the Imperial Army that Christmas, latent ill will towards ethnic Japanese flashed into fear as Invasion and Atrocities screamed from the headlines. Everyone knew that the Coastal defences were poorly prepared, and the armed services and the police expressed concerns that local Japanese would act as a fifth-column in aid of enemy landing forces. B.C. politicians both provincial and federal demanded that something be quickly done to extirpate the seditious heathens from the general population. While the Royal Canadian Mounted Police began searching out the 40 or so Japanese nationals who they suspected harboured subversive intent, the Navy began confiscating Japanese fishing boats all up and down the Coast. The Japanese community, 80% of whom were Canadian citizens with some tracing their familys Canadian roots back to 1885 when the ban on emigration from their homeland was finally lifted, anxiously demonstrated their loyalty to Canada. Again and again they volunteered to do anything the government desired to aid the war effort. They closed their schools, ceased publishing their newspapers and turned in their firearms, radios and cameras. Still, suspicions and tensions mounted.
On January 8th, 1942, the Conference on Japanese Matters convened in Ottawa. Its recommendation that Japanese males of military age be restricted from a zone reaching 100 miles inland from the Coast did not satisfy the White population of B.C. Fears teetered toward hysteria as the old Asiatic Expulsion League resurrected itself and service clubs of every stripe passed resolutions demanding the banishment of the Japanese. The Citizens Defence Committee constituted itself to orchestrate pressure on W.L.M. Kings Liberal government in Ottawa. Fearing that a bout of ethnic cleansing was about to convulse the Coast, on February 2nd, 1942, the Minister of National Defence, J.L. Ralston, classified all Japanese, be they NiseiCanadian-bornor Isseiborn in Japanas Enemy Aliens, and required that every male between ages eighteen and forty-five be removed from the Coast by April the 1st. Suspecting, perhaps, that some Japanese would find it impossible to comply with the requirement, on February 24th, 1942, five days after the American president authorized his secretary of war to exile any or all persons from militarily sensitive areas, Kings cabinet amended the Defence of Canada Regulations to empower the Minister of Justice, Louis St. Laurent, to evacuate all Japanese to places of internment far inland. To accomplish the task the British Columbia Security Commission was created.
Here at Tashme,8 and in many other camps both urban and remote scattered throughout B.C. and Alberta, the 22,000 victims of the most notorious violations of human and civil rights in Canadian history, with no more than 150 pounds of baggage each, were concentrated by their own government and encouraged to donate their labour to the war effort. By the end of September, only a handful of hospital patients and the spouses of Caucasians were all that were left of the Japanese community on the Coast.
And what of their hard earned possessions that the Japanese were forced to leave behind? Not to worry: those which could not be sold on short notice were given over to the Custodian of Enemy Property, G.W. McPherson, to be held in trust until such time as their owners could be returned. However, despite the law pointedly stating that Aliens goods could not be sold without consent, the Japanese were deemed financially responsible for transportation to, accommodation in, and administration of their own places of detention. And expenses proved to be high. Hardly had the Japanese disappeared inland than the Custodian found necessary to liquidate at fire sale prices what remained of the 13,000 acres of Fraser Valley farmlands, 1,500 motor vehicles, 1,200 fishing boats, hundreds of houses, uncounted personal possessions and family keepsakes. Only very recently and most unsatisfactorily were the camps erstwhile inmates and their descendants compensated for some small part of their losses.
According to Constable W.R. Cooper, the contemporary author of the essay, Tashme, in The Mounties: As They Saw Themselves (ed. Wm. H. Kelly, The Golden Dog Press, Ottawa, 1996), when acquired by the Security Commission, on the Ranch property stood a small house, two large barns and several out-buildings. With the arrival of the first residents of Tashme, a saw mill was erected to furnish lumber for the construction of the camp. To supply logs, selected men were escorted into the neighbouring woods and issued with saws and axes. One of the barns was rapidly compartmentalized into living units, the other barn served as an infirmary until a purpose-built hospital was finished, whereupon the barn became a recreational hall. On ten militarily rigid streets, some 300 identical tar-paperd huts were erected, each occupied by a single large family or two small ones. The elderly were housed in four apartment buildings erected near the centre of the settlement. Most living quarters contained a multi-purpose area which served as kitchen or study room or dining room as needs dictated, with rooms defined by curtains. They were unplumbed9 and not wired for electricity. Ingenuity and skill furnished the abodes and, as the camp matured, surrounded them with flower and vegetable gardens. A large, tri-partite U-shaped building served as offices, warehouse and store. Dwellings for the Caucasian overseeing staff, and couple of bath-houses, a school,10 a hospital with free care, a butcher shop, a postal bureau, and housing for the ostracised completed the community. The public buildings enjoyed in-door plumbing and electric lighting: streets were lighted, as well.
Caucasians, of course, backed up by a detachment of RCM Police, ran the camp, staffed the hospital, accounted for expenditures. Qualified professional inmates assisted where appropriate: a dentist, doctor and several nurses and many nursing assistants were Japanese. A council of the incarcerated maintained internal order among the 2300 residents, directed recreational groups like the Boy Scouts, the Tashme Young Peoples Organization, the Shin-Wa-Kai society, the Young Buddhist#146;s, the Anglican Young Peoples Association, et cetera, and oversaw cultural aspects of the Camp: the Christmas pageants, sundry concerts and dance presentations.
Down to a limit of $260 for each adult, and $50 for each child, every inmate was expected to exist on his or her own assets. When the limit was reached, welfare became available.11 Partly to occupy the inmatess time and partly to provide them with a bit of income, the sawmill continued as a money-making operation throughout the lifetime of the camp, selling its produce as far away as Vancouver. A factory to make soy sauce and miso paste was created and tasked with supplying all of Canada with its products. Mostly for Camp consumption some livestock was raised, and much of the harvests of cabbages and celery from the gardens and the barley and oats from the small fields rarely left the Camps confines. Tailors and dressmakers found a market for their skills within the Camp, as did carpenters and cabinet makers, bakers, barbers and hair stylists, cleaners and launderers, cobblers, a photographer, a jeweller and watchmaker. Virtually self-sufficient, the residents of the Camp waited out the War, hoping to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives when hostilities ceased. It would not be until September 22nd, 1988, when the Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney mouthed the words, that the 22,000 Japanese who were affected by the removals would receive an official apology from the Canadian government for the atrocious treatment accorded them during World War Two. As a token compensation, the 13,000 survivors received $21,000 each, and $12 million was put into a Fund to benefit the entire Japanese community.
The Top of the Cascades: Allison and Manning
Ah, but if the upper Sumallo lives up to its sobriquet, a warming sun will make the Valleys dismal history seem like a bad dream, though travellers with imaginations may fancy that they can discern vestiges of the Camp on the flats beside the compound. Perhaps, but the Allison Lumber Company occupied the site for a few years after the War and likely wiped away most traces of Tashme.
A couple of miles farther up the Highway cyclists come upon the last chance to get a warm beverage and a meal before they tackle the days real climb. The Sumallo Lodge is not, since a fire many years ago, actually a lodge. The enterprise is now mainly a truck-stop, made so by a generous and level parking lot where drivers can hammer their tires and check brake-lines in preparation for the descent down the Nine Mile Hill. The main building is a full service Petro-Canada gas station with an air pump, a pair of popular rest-rooms, a convenience store and, in the back, a cozy little restaurant managed in 2002 by an Indian lady whose samosas are a tasty treat. The former owner, Mrs. Steele, liked bicycle folks and had been known to dole out giant sized garbage bags on those days when Sunshine Valley proves to be a misnomer and poor soaked souls who had bet their health that rain gear would only be an unnecessary burden squelched into her establishment. Only Time will tell if the new owners will continue Mrs. Steeles tradition of generosity, but they keep their coffee hot.
Sumallo Lodge sits just outside the West Gate of Manning Provincial Park. Past the Gate and across Nineteen Mile Creek, the Highway sets off down the picturesque Sumallo Valley. Along here somewhere, about Mile 22, the artist Michael Kluckner has found and captured poignantly what he identifies as Camp Definace, the residential quarters of the old Foundation Mine, an enterprise that your unworthy guide has yet to research. Not far along, a roadside sign points out a well preserved remnant of the Royal Engineers wagon road built into the little scarp on the left.
Some scholars believe that the Engineers cleaned up the path of the old Brigade Trail about as far as the Nicolum in 1859. They may have, but it wasnt until 1860 that Edgar Dewdney and Walter Moberly, with their consulting R.E.s and their civilian labour, began the serious work of widening the Trail to the four feet specified in their contract, compacting its surface and retaining it in place on hillsides by pounding palisades of pickets along its down-slope edge. Governor Douglas intended that a loaded packhorse could negotiate the Trail in safety.
In 1861, while Dewdney and Moberly were pushing on to Rock Creek and its dying gold rush, the Governor directed Captain J.M. Grant and the Engineers to improve the Trail into an all-weather waggon road thereby permitting merchants on the Coast to compete with their fellows below the Boundary in the supply of goods to miners in the Interior. Though the frenzy at Rock Creek was so brief that the job was shelved after only the first 25 miles east from Fort Hope was completed, the work was so good that several little stretches of it yet survive.
The Sumallo valley holds the last outpost of the lush coastal rain-forest travelled by the eastbound No. 3. Stands of Bigleaf and Douglas maples edged with White Birch, spiked with spruce and sprinkled with the ivory white blossoms of the Western Flowering Dogwood, overhang myriad streams and rivulets. Under a blanket of mist to the right, occasionally delayed by a beavers dam, the River, green-black and as smooth as a python, muscles itself over the lumps in its bed, seldom showing a ripple of perturbed white. Congregated at the end of the vale and echoing with the guttural grokking of a clan of ravens, the magnificent old Red cedars and Grand Firs of Rhododendron Flats and Sumallo Grove allow travellers a glimpse of what this country looked like before the chain-saw and the apocalyptic Big Burn of August, 1945 exacted their toll. Here, where the Sumallo abandons its valley to elope with the Skagit and slip across the Boundary, the road sheds half of its lanes and bites into a hard left as it steps up over Snass Creek on a 1949 bridge to begin its final assault on the Allison Pass.
So far No. 3 has closely followed Dewdneys 1860 trail. Here the easy way is stymied by Mount Shawatums Skagit Bluffs: the R.E.s took their waggon road no further. Cyclists begin the days serious work. Facing them is a steep two or three kilometre long climb to the top of the Bluffs where a sharp right curls the Highway out of the Snass leaving the Dewdney Trail to scramble on up the gulch into the remoter reaches of the Hozameen Range, wade through the Punch Bowl and slide down to cross the No. 3 at Whipsaw Creek.
Leaving the Snass valley, the Highway edges itself along the flank of Snass Mountain, hacked into the face of the Bluffs. On the left, a soaring wall of beige limestone, on the right, nothing but air beyond the guard rail as the gorge of the wild Skagit River falls away on a vertical cliff. On cool days, the diaphanous, delicately scented spume thrown up by the churning waters at the confluence of the Snass, Sumallo and Skagit billows up the bluffs face and wafts across the Highway. This is dicey terrain for cyclists: blind corners abound and the Highways meagre shoulders offer a scant margin of safety. Mirrors prove their worth, for keeping an eye on traffic is essential to time ones passage through the corners. Music loving bikies should lay off their head phones and keep a sharp ear out for overtaking vehicles. The last thing you want to do is argue your road rights with two sem-eyes dancing a pas de deux in a tight curve.
At the end of the Bluffs a trail that the old-timers called the HopePrinceton branches off north-eastward to pick its way up Skaist Creek into the Punch Bowl and rejoin the Dewdney in the Whipsaw Creeks valley. Past the Bluffs, the No. 3 drops down a couple of metres, cuts across the snaking Skagit on five 1949 bridges and, growing a pair of skinny, gravely shoulders, attacks the last climb, the Big One. This route was pioneered by J.F. Allison in July of 1861 when, in order to augment the meagre income he was making from his farm in the Similkameen, he took a £150 Colonial contract to build a trail into the Okanagan Valley from the end of the Engineers waggon road. It wasnt until 1930 that a motorable roadway was picked out along here. Completed to Model T standards, it carried day-trippers from the lowlands up into the Pass. Though much improved over the decades, this section of the Highway, twisted and narrow with shoulders that lack continuity, is still no autobahn.
Sixty-five kilometres from Hope, maybe seen through the silencing fat flakes of a late spring snow shower, the sign that proclaims Allison Pass - Summit - Elevation 1352m is a welcome sight to exhausted cyclists. They are at the crest of the Cascades; before them lies vast Columbia River basin, its northern reaches draining 102,000 square kilometres of southern B.C. from here to the Alberta border. Beyond the Summit, a long, easy grade leads four lanes of Highway down the shallow valley of the infant Similkameen River through a dense forest of huge Engelmann Spruce and Western White Pine and into the heart of the Park.
It was a warm, sunny noon here at Allison Summit on November 2nd, 1949, when B.C. Premier Byron Johnson, with the assistance of his minister of Public Works, E.C. Carson, and 81 year old local prospector, Charles Bonnevier, snapped open the gilded padlock that held closed the ceremonial gate blocking the Highway. With whoop-la reminiscent of the driving of a last spike in a railroad, wrote Les Fox in the Vancouver Sun, the Gate swung open and the thousands of cars that had congregated since dawn began honking their way along this proud provincial feat. After four years of hard work and the expenditure of 12 million dollars and the lives of five workmen, the Hope-Okanagan Valley section of the recently christened Crowsnest Highway was complete. It had been a long job, tracing itself back decades to the Canadian Highway noted by driver/mechanic/adventurer F.V. (Jack) Haney in his diary entry of October 13th, 1912, as having barely begun to inch its way eastward out of Hope, heading for Princeton. To commemorate the accomplishment in 1949, the Park, named after E.C. Manning, the Chief Forester of B.C., was created.
Tired and maybe chilled and definitely dirty-sticky, many cyclists will be tempted to end their day in the Park. Even on the busiest summer weekend, they should be able to find accommodation on one of the 353 campsites in this 71,000 hectare Parks four roadside campgrounds. Rates vary from $10 to $20 depending upon the campgrounds location and amenities. Warden in pick-up trucks come around to the occupied sites to collect fees, dispense advice and haul out trash. The sites most sought-after by bikies are those of the Lightning Lakes grounds for, unique among the provincial campgrounds along No. 3, Lightning Lakes has showers, though you have to pay extra to use them.
Ten kilometres from Allison Summit stands the Manning Park Lodge and Motel, the Resort (1192m). Lightning Lakes is some five kilometres back west along the Skyline Trail access road, on the way to the jump off point for the Pacific Crest Trail to Mexico. Alternatively, for $3.50 a soiled cyclist can loll in the Lodges sauna until the kinks of the day begin to un-knot and then take a long, hot shower before heading off down the Highway a ways to find a less expensive campsite.
A room in the Park Lodge is, of course, not cheap, but the staff are an amiable lot and well accustomed to booking small groups into single rooms to make their own sleeping arrangements. The basement by the sauna is a large area where equipment may be hung up to dry, and the Lodges associated restaurant serves good, hot meals. As well, the Lodge is the focal point for the Parks organized activities; horseback riding, fishing from rented boats on Lightning Lakes, hiking...
Mountain Camping and Bears
In Mannings cool, dry micro-climate, it is unlikely that tenters will have to worry about rain, but even in August, at this altitude, it gets really cool at night. Experienced campers keep rolled up in their sleeping bags a nice, soft toque (a knit cap), a tee-shirt, and a comfy pair of socks. Cozy? They are.
B.C. is bear country. Hopefully travellers will see one or two, and hopefully at a distance at which neither they nor the bear feel threatened. Bears are individuals; the ones that feed in garbage dumps and are used to cruising campgrounds for snacks have over-come their natural caution and tend not to run away at the sight of a human. Their more rustic relatives are shy and generally flee from people. This is why some backwoods hikers wear bear bells which tinkle as they walk, giving nervous bears ample time to retreat. On the other hand, more sophisticated bruins associate bells with humans and humans with food and may just come a-running. On one thing all experts agree: how any bear will behave is absolutely unpredictable.
If you encounter a bear, do not offer it food. Do not entice one into close-up range by holding out a goodie. Bears are wild animals, and will not differentiate your hand from the food in it. Its all protein. Especially stay well away from cute little teddies which might come bleating out of the bush. They are as harmless and cuddly as they look, but they are not lost and they do not want to play, and you are betting your life that their mother wont emerge from the shrubbery just as you step towards her babies. She can not know that your intentions are nothing but friendly; she will instantly attack with the intent of hurting you badly.
There are two species of Ursidæ in B.C. There is the American black bear which can range in colour from midnight black to dirty blond to, in the case of the rare Kermode variant of mid-western B.C., smoky bluish white. If you meet a bear in Manning, it will probably be a Black. Like any wild animal, Blacks are worthy of respect, but, with the exception of a female protecting her cubs, they are not generally considered deadly dangerous. Although… Suddenly face to face with one, avoid eye contact and begin backing slowly away. In the extremely rare case that you are attacked, with screams and rocks and sticks and, if it comes down to a close encounter, with fists and feet, you have a fighting chance of fending one off. If you arent feeling Davy Crocket-ish that day and cannot help bolting, shed your pack and run downhill. Like humans, bears front legs are shorter than their rear legs and they tend to over-balance and roll on a down slope if they arent careful. Of course, so do humans. Do not climb a tree; Blacks are expert arborealists. Playing dead? Mmm, not the most attractive option, really, considering that bears are carrion eaters. And if U suddenly drop dead in the middle of the fight, the bear will as likely as not make sure of your demise before it starts to feed.
The best defence is avoidance. Remain aware of your localeis there a berry patch or a refuse dump nearby, a game trail or a fish stream? And do not tempt Bruin into paying a neighbourly visit by keeping food or garbage in camp. Hang uncanned eatables out of reach between two trees, as well as the clothes in which you cook. Though these are tiresome inconveniences, they are nothing when compared to the headache of having a bear in your tent; bad enough even if you arent in it.
The other bear found in B.C. is the Grizzly; Ursus arctos horribilis, the horrible bear. They can weigh up to a third of a ton and some measure nearly three metres from nose to rump. When you see one, you will not mistake it for a Black; some primal instinct will dump adrenaline into your blood stream and kick your heart into your throat. Its bulk, the confidence in its movement, the hump of muscle on its shoulders, its Roman nose ..., you will know that you are looking at member of the largest race of terrestrial carnivores on the continent. The good news is that Grizzlies are nearly blind, dont climb trees well and generally eschew the company of Man. The rest of the news is bad. They can smell mouse droppings at a thousand metres and hear the mouse dropping them. Large specimens can reach thirteen feet up into a tree and drag down with six inch-long claws something that interests or offends them. They can run at thirty miles per hour on the level and their charge is not noticeably slowed by trees up to seven centimetres in diameter. Usually foul tempered, they are utterly fearless and incredibly strong. And sly. The 1997 Encyclopædia Britannica warns that Grizzlies have been known to attack humans without evident provocation. Dedicated omnivores, they are sure of their place at the top of the food chain and are always hungry.
By all accounts, meeting a grizzly at close quarters is the ultimate in thrilling experiences, with the outcome having likely been written in the stars at the moment of your birth. There is little you can do; it is all up to the bear. Andy Russell, the noted Alberta naturalist, reminiscing of the several occasions that he has been charged by Grizzlies writes ... we planted our feet and faced the bears. They expected us to run, as everything does from a grizzly. When we didnt, they always stopped or veered away. If we moved at all, it was generally toward them. When the bear had calmed, Russell ... quietly and diplomatically removed [himself] from the immediate vicinity. Grizzly expert J.A. Murray concurs. In Grizzly Bears: An Illustrated Field Guide (Roberts Rinehart Publishers, Boulder, 1995), he says that in the event that you encounter a bear at close quarters; freeze, avoid eye contact, keep quiet. A bear rearing up on its hind legs is not necessarily preparing to charge, it merely seeks a different perspective on the situation. In the unhappy event that the bear does charge, do not run unless there is a sturdy, climbable tree close by. Wave your arms, clap and yell: convince the bear that you are a human, not an encroaching neighbour. If you are about to be struck, drop and curl into the ftal position with your hands locked across the back of your neck. Do not cry out. If you are of a religious bent, pray to your god. If you have no faith, now might be a good moment to plumb your soul and find some. Having survived the attack, stay dead; rolled up and waiting silently for what will seem an eternity to give the bear time enough to wander off.
My only advice is simple: see your grizzly at a great distance, snap a quick pic, and then go away.