Top Skeena River Historical Features

The Skeena River  has some amazing historical sites and features.  Here area  few of my favorites.

Kitselas Canyon
An amazing place with a ton of history. Ringbolt island, petroglyphs, totem poles, long houses are some of the highlights. I have been on many tours of the historic site with Webb Bennet and I learn something new everytime.

Kitselas Canyon
Kitselas Canyon
Kitselas Totem Poles
Kitselas Totem Poles
Ringbolt Island
Ringbolt Island

Woodcock Airstrip
The Airstrip was built in the 40′s as a relief landing field by the Military. It was used by the cadets as a base for their operations as well but has now fell into disrepair. it seems so out of place on the edge of the river. Most people drive right by it on the south side of the Skeena River and do not know it exists on the opposite side of the river.

Woodcock Airstrip
Woodcock Airstrip
Woodcock Airstrip1
Woodcock Airstrip1

Port Essington / Spokeshute
An amazing place with a long history as it was the hub of the Commercial Salmon Cannery industry on the Skeena River. Everytime I go there and explore I find something new. After reading the “Spokeshute” book by E. A Harris and the “Klondike of the Skeena” by Phylis Bowman the town makes sense when visiting it as you can imagine where all the stories took place.

The Hi Lo crab boat resting at Port Essington
The Hi Lo crab boat resting at Port Essington
Port Essington Boardwalk
Port Essington Boardwalk
Port Essington  from the Air
Port Essington from the Air

Dorreen
This unique railway, mining and farming community on the banks of the Skeena River is a hidden gem. My favorite part of the the visit is looking for all the old cars and trucks in the overgrown forest. The train used to have a siding where the locals could unload a vehicle off the train for the few km of road that existed. Once the siding was removed the cars and trucks had no way out to the millions of km’s of road on the outsdie of Dorreen.

Dorreen General Store
Dorreen General Store
Dorreen Railway Station
Dorreen Railway Station
Dorreen Truck
Dorreen Truck

Chief Legaik Pictograph
The portrait is believed to be that of the Tsimshian Chief, Legaik. The left side of the painting records a feast given by the chief in which 9 containers were given away.The painting was done by an artist named Lequate in the 1830′s. How did he manage to paint this on this massive rock face?
It is believed he was suspended in a cedar basket from a rope from above the rock face while he painted the rock.

Chief Legaik Pictographs
Chief Legaik Pictographs
Chief Legaik Pictographs closeup
Chief Legaik Pictographs closeup

Skeena City
Located at the mouth of the Khyex River was a small community known as “Skeena City”. Many people drive right by without even seeing the remnants from the past. This 1910 community was short lived but it did have a cannery and sawmill. The island of trees on the shores of the river include many remnants of these past activities. Old pilings, tunnels, bricks and metal piping still scatter the area.

Skeena City Mill
Skeena City Mill
Skeena City Pilings
Skeena City Pilings
Skeena City Kiln
Skeena City Kiln

Sternwheeler Cordwood
Have you ever seen a 100 year pile of cordwood? The fuel for the sternwheelers in the early 1900’s was row upon row of wood stacked on the banks of the Skeena River. The Sternwheelers would stop every few hrs to reload and continue up the Skeena to Hazeleton. Cordwood cutters would receive $3-4 a cord but the cutter who cut these piles probably never got paid as the piles still remain on the banks of the Skeena River. (maybe waiting for a sternwheeler revival!)

100 year old Cordwood for Sternwheelers
100 year old Cordwood for Sternwheelers
100 year old cordwood piles for Sternwheelers
100 year old cordwood piles for Sternwheelers

Chief Comaham Headstone
The story behind Chief Comaham according to Ruth Hallock was that he was paddling up the Skeena River on a hot August 15th day in 1873. He had left Port Simpson on his way to the mouth of the Lakelse River with his family. His young 4 year old daughter was standing in the canoe when they encountered a swell in the river and over board she went. Comaham did not hesitate and jumped in the murky waters of the Skeena River after his daughter. The churning waters were too much for Comaham as he and his daughter were never seen again. A lengthy search for his body was not successful. A Stonecutter from Port Simpson named George Rudge was commissioned to to a headstone for Chief Comaham. This headstone still stands today in memoriam.

Chief Comaham Headstone
Chief Comaham Headstone

Gitwangak Totem Poles and Church
The 1893 St Paul’s Anglican Church and Bell Tower at Kitwanga (formerly known as Gitwangak) plus the different Clan totem poles that line the river are a highlight and easily accessible.

St Paul's Church
St Paul’s Church
Gitwangak Totem Pole
Gitwangak Totem Pole

Haysport Cannery
Haysport which was named after Charles Hays who died in the Titanic sinking. He was also responsible for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway which was completed in 1914. Haysport seemed like it would end up becoming a thriving town as it had the name of one of the most famous and influential entrepeneurs behind it. It was on the same side of the river as the Railway ( this caused the demise of Port Essington across the Skeena River). One thing that did not bode well for the town was that they moved the commercial fishing boundary down river from Haysport which was the start of the demise of Haysport. An interesting fact mentioned int eh recent book I read was that once the commercial fishing season came to and end, workers from all the canneries on the lower Skeena River made their way to Haysport to catch the train back to their home village up the Skeena River. One story mentioned a line of luggage 1 km long and 5-6 hrs to load it and all the passengers on the train at Haysport. It would have been quite a scene!

Haysport  Cannery Boardwalk
Haysport Cannery Boardwalk
Haysport  Cannery
Haysport Cannery

Cedarvale Store
The village of Cedarvale which was formerly known as Meanskinisht has the remains of the store and post office on the north side of the Skeena River. The building is one of the three remaining buildings that missionary Robert Tomlinson built in the late 1800′s. This building has been a “Jack of all trades building” as it served initially as a home, telegraph office,post office, polling station during elections,store and rurvived the 1936 Skeena flood with water at its wall.The building still stands today on the banks of the Skeena River directly across from Cedarvale and the site of the old reaction ferry.

Cedarvale Store 2016
Cedarvale Store 2016

Meanskinisht Cemetery
The village Meanskinisht which means beneath a pine tree is also n=known as Cedarvale was the site of Robert Tomlinson’s mission in 1888. Robert and his wife Alice are buried in the cemetery.

Robert & Alice Tomlinson Grave
Robert & Alice Tomlinson Grave
Robert & Alice Tomlinson Graves
Robert & Alice Tomlinson Graves

Cassiar Cannery
The Cassiar Cannery, which was built on Inverness Passage on the Skeena River in 1903. It canned salmon until 1983 which made it the longest running cannery on the Northcoast. Justine and Mark have done an amazing job at renovating the “Managers houses” as a guest accommodation. The houses are situated right on the banks of the Skeena River. Here is a link to their website. http://www.cassiarcannery.com

Cassiar Cannery  Wharf
Cassiar Cannery Wharf
Cassiar Cannery Manager Houses
Cassiar Cannery Manager Houses

George Frizzel Boneyard
George Frizzel was a local butcher and business person in Port Essington. As there was no grazing lands for cattle, they were brought in live on the Union Steamship and kept around until they were butchered and the remains thrown over his dock. Quite an eerie sight after 100 years.

George Frizzel Boneyard
George Frizzel Boneyard
George Frizzel Boneyard
George Frizzel Boneyard

Ksan Historic Site
This replicated Gitxsan historic site is located at the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers in the community of Hazelton. The long houses and totem poles are a must see.

Ksan Historic Site
Ksan Historic Site
Ksan Historic Site
Ksan Historic Site

 

UNBC Educational Adventures Promotional Video

Our 2016 lineup of Educational Adventure Tours are all scheduled and filling up. We Have an amazing promotional video highlighting a couple of the tours. Check it out some of the amazing sites and scenery Northern BC has to offer.

Canneries of the Northcoast – May 29-June 3, 2016
Jet Boat Photography Tour – June 5-11, 2016
Skeena River Historical Jet Boat Journey – August 5-10, 2016
Ghost Towns of Northwest BC – August 21-27, 2016
Historic Transportation Methods of Fort George – May 6 or 15, 2016
Upper Fraser River White Sturgeon Biology Tour May 7-8 2016

Jet Boat Photography Guest Colin Franks

On our Jet Boat Photography Tour in 2015 we had some amazing photographers on the tour. One of these photographers was Colin Franks. He has graciously shared some of his photos from the trip with us. If you want to see more of Colin’s Photos check out his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ColinFranksPhotography/

Remote Skeena River Colin Franks
Remote Skeena River Colin Franks
Zymmacord Bridge Skeena Colin Franks
Zymmacord Bridge Skeena Colin Franks
Port Essington Pilings Colin Franks
Port Essington Pilings Colin Franks
CN Train Colin Franks
CN Train Colin Franks
Coastal Grizzly Colin Franks
Coastal Grizzly Colin Franks
Skeena Eagle Colin Franks
Skeena Eagle Colin Franks
Copper Mountain Sunset Colin Franks
Copper Mountain Sunset Colin Franks
Skeena River Rocks Colin Franks
Skeena River Rocks Colin Franks
Skeena Sunset Colin Franks
Skeena Sunset Colin Franks

Jet Boating to Unique Places

On all of our educational adventure tours we utilize jet boats for a portion of the trips. The are very versatile and allow us to get our guests to some amazing places that would otherwise be inaccessible. The clip below emphasizes this as we take a group of guests on our Jet Boat Photography Tour up a remote river in search of those unique photo opportunities.

UNBC Jet Boat Photography – Kitselas Canyon

One of the highlights of our Jet Boat Photography Tour and the Skeena River Historical Journey by Jet Boat is the running of jet boats through the historical Kitselas Canyon. Here is some footage of our two jet boats going through the canyon. Don’t miss your chance to explore the canyon by jet boat.
Jet Boat Photography Tour June 5-10, 2016
Skeena River Historical Journey August 5-10, 2016

Marine life on the Skeena Estuary

Many of our Educational Travel Programs take advantage of the magnificent scenery along the Skeena River Estuary. The estuary is not a typical estuary that is well defined with a big flood plain. The rivers flows out between many islands and channels before it reaches open ocean. The estuary is home to many marine mammals and while out exploring this past week here were a couple of the mammals that we spotted.

Skeena Sea Lions
Skeena Sea Lions
Cassiar Cannery Porpoise
Cassiar Cannery Porpoise
Skeena Sea Lions
Skeena Sea Lions
North Pacific Cannery Porpoise
North Pacific Cannery Porpoise

Getting Excited about Very Old Cordwood!

As we retrace the route of the historic Sternwheelers on the Skeena River on our August 5-10, 2016 tour, one of the stops will be to visit a “Pile of Wood”. But not just any wood!. This is rows of 100 year old split cordwood. It lies on the banks of the Skeena River, moss covered and slowly rotting away. Wood was the main fuel for the sternwheelers on the Skeena. They could burn as much as three or four cords of wood per hour. Passengers had no guarantee of a leisurely trip as the sternwheelers often burned wood in such enormous quantities that the passengers would be called upon to load the boat with cordwood when they went to shore. The cordwood cutters were contracted by the sternwheeler companies to provide cordwood for each season. These cutters would get $3-4 a cord.

Sternwheeler cordwood
Sternwheeler cordwood
Sternwheeler cordwood
Sternwheeler cordwood
Cording up
Cording up
Sternwheeler cordwood
Sternwheeler cordwood

What’s Showing at the Kitsault Movie Theatre?

On our Ghost Towns of Northwest BC Tour we visit the modern day ghost town of Kitsault. It has been in a time warp since 1982 when the town closed and everyone was told to leave. One of the interesting things we see on our exclusive tour is the Movie Theatre. Past residents have commented that they saw movies like Bambi, Snow White, Rocky Horror picture show plus it even doubled a venue for weddings and church service. Very Cool place. Check out our 2016 tour on how you can visit this place.

Guests getting ready for a showing a the Kitsault Theatre
Guests getting ready for a showing a the Kitsault Theatre
Kitsault Movie Theatre
Kitsault Movie Theatre

Jet Boat Photography Tour Group Photos

In looking back at some photos of the past two years of running the Jet Boat Photography Tour I came across our group photos from the last two groups. I thought I would share them as we had a great group of individuals and some great amateur photographers. This year’s tour runs June 5-10, 2016 in Terrace, BC again with all nights at the beautiful Yellow Cedar Lodge. If you are looking to get off the beaten path and take photos of some unique places only accessible by Jet Boat then you should consider this tour.

Jetboat Photography Group 2015
Jetboat Photography Group 2015
Jet Boat Group Photo 2014
Jet Boat Group Photo 2014

Port Essington Door – Who Lived there?

The forest area around Port Essington is loaded with remnants from the past. You do not have to venture too far to find relics from the past.  Every time I see something I wonder who’s was this and what the story was behind it.  One of these things was this door with the lock still partially embedded.  Who’s door was it? What building did it come from?  Where are the keys for it?  Intriguing things for me.

Here is the door and lock.

Port Essington Door
Port Essington Door