Last summer were fortunate to tour a few Social Media Influencers around the Northwest Coast and one of the days was spent in the heart of the historic salmon canneries of the early 1900’s. We were also blessed to have Northern BC Tourism content creator Simon Ratcliffe along to assist and take some amazing photos of the area. Check out Simon’s website for some other spectacular photos from some of his other journeys. Below are a few of the photos as “Simon Sees” through the lense!
How SimonSees the Canneries of the North Coast!
Capturing the imagery and stories of people I meet on my travels.
The Skeena River and Northwest BC are one of the most beautiful places in the world. We were fortunate enough to share this region with writer Janet Gyenes who gave a very stunning account of her visit to the area. We incorporated a touch of many of our Northern BC Adventure Tours during the few days. Read the online article or the screenshots below.
The lower Skeena River on British Columbia’s North Coast was line with over 26 canneries starting in 1877 with the Inverness Cannery. Inverness was situated in the Skeena Slough or one arm of the delta of the Skeena River before it empties into the Pacific Ocean. This slough is also Known as “Cannery Row” due to the numerous canneries which lined it’s shores. North Pacific Cannery and Cassiar Cannery still have substantial remains with North Pacific now a national historic site. Other than these two relatively easily accessible canneries, many of the other ones are boat access only and at different stages of decay and remaining remnants. The hidden treasures that remain and the stories they tell are truly amazing. One of the best sources of information on the canneries is Gladys Blyth’s book “Salmon Canneries British Columbia North Coast”. We are fortunate to be able to deliver a 3 day tour to these sites plus many other fishing villages and historic sites in our “Canneries of the North Coast Tour”. Through the UNBC “Northern BC Adventures Program”
Global TV Spotlight on the Ghost Town of Alice Arm
This once thriving Silver Mining town Alice Arm of the early 1900’s is home to the Dolly Varden Silver Mine and a dozen or so cabins and homesteads. It is also one of our stops on the UNBC Continuing Studies “Ghost Towns of Northwest BC” Tour. Some of the highlights include the 1920 schoolhouse, bakery, haunted houses, old derelict vehicles, polish prison, seafood BBQ, waterfalls, salmon and bears. Below the video are a few more photos of the town. For a good read on the history of the town Darryl Muralt’s book “Steel Rails & Silver Dreams” provided an insightful look into the boom and bust times of this silver mining town and the tribulations of building a small railway in some of the most inhospitable conditions. The town really is a unique pace to visit!
Many Prince George residents have lived in this area for a long time but have never explored in their own backyard. Here is a perfect opportunity to learn about our history and view some of the most iconic historical sites in the region. Reaction ferries, Canyons, Railways, Goat Island, Bollards, Rapids, and hopefully some local wildlife will make this a memorable trip! May 15 or June 17, 2017
The tour will commence with a 30 minute jet boat ride up the Nechako River to the site of the Miworth Reaction Ferry. In Miworth two hulls of the ferry still remain, plus a wooden derrick tower. This ferry operated from 1922 to the mid 1940’s. Reaction ferries were common in the interior for crossing many of our river systems. The ferries consist of two pontoon hulls and a cable across the river. The energy of the river current is used to angle the pontoons across the river. Don’t miss this opportunity to visit this historic site.
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Bridge
From the Miworth Reaction Ferry site, we will journey to the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Bridge. This iconic Prince George feature is over 100-years old and is still the longest railway bridge in B.C. While viewing the Bridge from below, Jeff will provide a historic perspective of the bridge. On this stretch of our journey a stop will also be made at Goat Island, where this island’s contribution to the building of the GTP Railway Bridge and the stories of Jim Johnson’s goat farm will be told.
Fort George Canyon
The last destination on our tour is Fort George Canyon where the sternwheelers of the early 1900’s attempted to navigate and winch themselves through the rock outcropped islands and fast flowing rapids and whirlpools of this narrow pass in the Fraser River. We will learn and experience why it was so difficult to bring these boats through this extremely treacherous section of the river. Don’t miss this chance to experience the rich history of our local rivers!
The Kitselas Canyon Historic site and home of the Kitselas First Nation is 15 minutes east of Terrace on the banks of the Skeena River. The highlights include the longhouses, petroglyphs, totem poles, lookout, dugout canoe, interpretive signs and the flora and fauna. None of these highlights would be complete without the interpretive knowledge and background provided by the curator Webb Bennett.
Webb is a wealth of knowledge and can tell you anything about the history of the area. He shares his knowledge and shows us the sites as we wind along a path through the beautiful hemlock forest. He talks about the totem poles and longhouses and how totems are a way for the Kitselas and other first nations to tell their stories as their history isn’t written down anywhere. The experience at the site is hands on as Webb mentions “It’s a living cultural centre”. The tour of the longhouses greatly benefits from this belief as the participants can hold and touch the various items on display to get a better feel of the work that went into making them.
We visit the Kitselas Canyon Historic site on a few of our tours.
The lower Skeena River and the north coast is home to many weathered derelict fishing boats that have been abandoned or washed up on shore. They are truly a photographers paradise to capture that amazing photo unlike any other. Each boat has a one of kind story and history behind them from salmon fishing, gillnetting, crabbing or transportation. This seldom visited area has many boats lining the shores and just takes a keen eye and some tips on where to look. Here is our top 10 list with a couple of honorable mentions. If you know any specific history on any of these boats we would love to hear about them.
To see these boats and to have a chance to get up close and personal with them check out our “Canneries of the North Coast” tour where we visit these boats and many more.
On our Northwest BC Grizzly Bear Discovery tour we use jet boat son a few of the days to travel on the ocean to remote coastal estuaries that are filled with thick carpets of Lyngby Sedge. We use jet boats so that we can maneuver through all the side channels and that intertwine amongst the estuary. The shallow draft of the jet boat allows us to pole or use electric motors to slowly stalk and maneuver the boat into position to see the bears without scaring them. We know the bears come out every day to feed so sometimes its just a matter of time before they decide to show themselves. At the end of the bear viewing day we then use the louder jet boat engines to cruise of the river on a sightseeing tour. This year’s tour is June 6-10, 2017 starting in Terrace, BC.
Many of our Adventure Tours through Continuing Studies focus on accessing remote and rarely visited sites and to do this we utilize Jet Boats. Running a jet boat with guests who are relying on their guide to bring them back safely after each days adventure requires someone with a vast amount of experience and skill. For our tours in Northwest BC we utilize the services of Fred Seiler who has thousands of hours of jet boating and experience exploring the rivers of this magnificent region. His past experience in delivering eco tours and commercial jet boat services is invaluable. Fred also teaches a Jet Boat safety course for us and has also taught me a vast amount about the safe driving of jet boats and shared all kinds of information about areas to explore and adventure in Northwest BC. Here are a few photos of Fred in action on our tours.
For coastal Grizzly Bears one of the most important spring food sources is the Lyngby sedge (Carex lyngbyei). This sedge grows in the intertidal zone and can tolerate fresh and salt water. The bears feast on this abundant spring vegetation because of its high crude protein content as it contains 25% raw protein. One of the easiest ways to determine a Grizzly Bears activity in an area is to look at the tops of the Lyngby Sedge. If they are flat on the top instead of pointed then this would indicate that a bear has eaten the tops off. The next step is too see if the tops are still green which would indicate that the bear has just recently eaten the sedge or is there a brown stain or color to the top which indicates that some time has passed since the bear ate them.
The estuaries and coastline with sedges in the spring months are definitely areas where one would begin to look for Grizzly Bears as they begin their summer long process of fattening up.
To see these bears in their natural habitat feeding in a sea of green sedge our UNBC “Northwest BC Grizzly Bear Discovery Tour” is an excellent way to visit very remote locations and watch these magnificent creatures photograph them. June 6-10, 2017 starting in Terrace, BC