One of the more colorful stories of this regions’s past happened in 1862 in the “Grand Canyon of the Fraser” up river of Prince George. The story differs slightly depending on the source but the theme of “Cannibalism” is in all of them.
In the year spring of 1862 five men started a journey from London, Ontario to the goldfields of Barkerville in hopes of striking it rich! The group consisted of three brothers with the last name Rennie and two others named Helstone and Wright. Their journey had been going according to plan as they made their way across the country. The arrived in Tete Jaune Cache in the October and bought two canoes to make the trip down the Fraser River to Ft George and then off to Quesnel and then Barkerville.
They paddled the relatively easy flowing Fraser River until they got to the infamous “Grand Canyon”. Seeing the start of an impressive canyon and rapids they decided to lash their two canoes together for extra security. They ventured downriver but it quickly became apparent that their lashed canoes were no match for the raging and turbulent waters of the canyon. They swamped the canoes near the bottom of the first canyon and ended up on a island/bar in the middle of the river.
This is where the stories differ but this is the version I believe to be true. Only two of the men could swim (two of the Rennie Brothers) so they swam across the river and started making their 28 day trek to Fort George. Meanwhile the other three were stranded with no food and it didn’t take long before they turned on each other and specifically the lone “Rennie” brother as Helstone and Wright killed the Rennie brother and were seen by local first nations ( who had come to help them) eating everything but the legs of Rennie. The First Nations attempted to help the remaining two but they pulled their revolvers and scared the off. In the spring the local First Nations returned to find that the second man had been killed and eaten. The third man was found to have died but had not been eaten and that is the story of “Cannibal Island”.
On our “Ghost Towns of the East Line” tour we jet boat past the infamous island and always on the lookout for a bone or two that might be buried in the gravel! We will be doing this tour again on May 11, 2019!
One our Ultimate Ghost Town Adventure we visit two of Northern BC’s most unique ghosts towns which are essentially neighbors. The early 1900 silver mining town of Alice Arm was home to the Dolly Varden Mine and railway while Kitsault just across the inlet was home to the early 1980’s molydenum mine of Kitsault. Alice Arm still buzzes with hoped of finding the next big silver “find” as exploration crews still scour the valley in the summer. Other than that the town is largely abandoned with a scattering of locals who spend the summer in the town.
Across the inlet is the modern day ghost town of Kitsault. It was a complete town that was built on the premise of strong moly prices for years, but after a couple of years the price of moly crashed and the mine was shut down. The fully serviced town with shopping mall, swimming pool, basketball court, curling rink, hospital, pub, movie theater, apartments and houses sat vacant until 2005 when Viriginia business man bought the town sight unseen for 5.7 million dollars. The town has still sat vacant other than caretakers and a summer crew of maintenance people.
Everything still remains relatively eerily as it was in 1982. We are fortunate enough to be granted access to tour the town and also stay overnight in it.
We will be heading back to Kitsault and Alice Arm, August 17-18, 2019 for any of you that are interested. Here are some photos from last year.
With Prince George being at the confluence of two rivers it is not surprising that many of the most interesting historical sites and features are located near one of the rivers. Many people who have lived in the region for many years have still not experienced this rich history. Our “Fort George River Journey” is the perfect one day adventure to see what lies in you back yard. The view from the river is spectacular and provides a unique perspective of our region. We jet boat up the Nechako River and down the Fraser River, stopping at unique sites along the way! These include the old 1940 reaction ferry site and hulls, Goat Island, Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, Sternwheeler Bollard, historic Fort George Canyon and much more!
Our June 2-3, 2018 tour to Anyox was one of our best as we had a couple of guests ( future story to come ) that had relatives that had lived and work in the copper mining town. This remote and hard to access ghost town has been abandoned since 1942. Even after that many years the structures that remain are like gong back into a time warp. With special permissions from the owner to visit and tour the site our guests are typically a handful of lucky ones to visit the town each year. Our group last year lucked out with blue skies and calm seas as we journeyed to this magical place. Here are some photos from last year’s tour.
We are heading back to Anyox June 8-9, 2019 for those of you that are interested in exploring one of Canada’s most unique ghost towns.
In 2018 we had a great group of guests on our Grizzly Bear Discovery Tour in Northwest BC. The group spent three night at the beautiful Yellow Cedar Lodge while we explored remote coastal estuaries in search of Grizzly Bears feeding on Lyngby Sedge. We used two jet boats to access the estuaries where the bears come out to feed. The last two nights were spent at a remote floating lodge that we used as out base for exploring and searching for Grizzly Bears cruising he shore line and feeding on sedges and crustaceans. Half the group flew in on a float plane and the other half took a two hour boat ride.
You do not want to miss out out this amazing adventure as we have another trip scheduled for June 1-7, 2019. Here are some photos form past trips.
Travelling along the Upper Fraser to the end of the road through towns like Longworth, Sinclair Mills, Newlands, Hutton and Penny provides a glimpse into the past of our early resource based communities and the lives of the people that worked there. We were fortunate enough to have Author “Ray Olson” provide interpretive knowledge and share his stories of growing up along the line. All this is done while travelling in the comfort of a VIA rail train from Prince George to Penny. When we arrive in Penny the Gobbi family generously provides lunch and tours us around the local homesteads and cemetery. The day winds up with a Jet Boat ride down the Fraser River through historic and scenic Grand Canyon of the Fraser.
Last year the tour was so popular we delivered two trips to this historic part of our region. Here are some highlights from last years tour!
One of our first tours of the year is the “Canneries of the North Coast” and also one of the most unique. Over the 4 days we visit over 18 remnants of the salmon canneries of the lower Skeena River and the islands at the entrance to it. Names like Balmoral, Humpback Bay, Claxton and Carlisle to name a few. We also visit some of the most remote fishing related communities on the north coast like the Icelandic Community of Osland and the boat building town of Oona River. Plus we stay 4 nights in a cannery at one of the most unique accommodations in BC- Cassiar Cannery. The trip is for those who like small group sizes and getting off the beaten path to see some of the most unique sites on the north coast.
We are excited for the upcoming year of Adventure Tours through UNBC Continuing Studies. Every year the tours get better as we fine tune all the small details. Most tours are only delivered once a year and occasionally twice if sufficient demand well in advance of the tour date. These tours are not geared towards academic students but rather those with an interest in adventure and experiencing northern BC. The tours have a small group size of upto 10-12 guests at he most and rely heavily on guest speakers and authentic locals that share their knowledge about the places we visit. Our average age of our guests is around 60 years old and some as old as 85. We do have younger people join us as well but predominantly it is an older clientele.
I thought I would share 10 photos form last year that highlight some of the trips we did.
Why would the word “STOLEN” be stenciled onto a light bulb!
You are about to find out. The 1911-1935 Copper Smelting town of Anyox which is about 145 km north of Prince Rupert is only accessible by boat. This town was a company town owned by Granby Consolidated. They provided all the houses, electricity, sewer, water, store, transportation but one they they did not provide was “Light Bulbs”! The company provided light bulbs for the factories, equipment shops, store, offices and smelter but not for the houses. They were going through an increased number of light bulbs and soon realized that some unscrupulous residents were taking company light bulbs for their own residential use.
The company quickly came up with a plan to stop this unauthorized use.
Their plan was to contract their supplier who would stamp all the official light bulbs with the word “STOLEN” in large capital letters, as this would discourage use of them in the residences and rooming houses.”
This worked for some of the more honest residents or those who were not willing to take the shame of displaying the words “STOLEN” on their lights.
Others were not as worried, and proudly lit up their houses with the words stolen reflecting on the walls of the house.
There were even stories of some families asking their children to take a piece of emory cloth and rub the bulbs as it made for a “brighter” light while the children unknowingly removed the stigma of the stenciled “STOLEN”.
Anyox is a ghost town full of interesting stories and remnants. That is why we will be visiting this remarkable ghost town again June 2-3, 2018. Contact us for more information on making the trip with us.