When we visit the individual ghost towns on “Ghost Town’s of Northwest BC” we are always looking for a story or a bit of the past that still remains. In Alice Arm one of the things we will see is the Old Alice Arm Bakery. The window where the fresh bread and pies still remains along with the log building. No idea on the exact date of it but probably around the 1920’s based on similar style structures there. Here are a couple of photos of the old bakery window and what main street looked like in the past.
On our Canneries of the North Coast Tour one of the locations we will visit is not a Cannery but it is one of the locations I am very excited to visit again. This boat building and logging community on Porcher Island is a truly unique community with so many interesting things to see in a such a small area. I have had previous posts of the boats and boat houses, the rainbow house and an aerial view of the community. Walking along the few km’s of road is the best way to see the hidden gems that lie off the edge of the road,along the shoreline or hidden in the trees. Here are a few more photos of Oona River.
One of the highlights on our tour to Port Essington ( especially for the photographers) is the single boat lying in the grass. I was fortunate enough to make contact with one of the previous owners ( Sarah Brown) who provided me some history on the boat.
It is small crab boat called the Hi-Lo, that focused its efforts on the inner islands around the mouth of the Skeena River. It was originally from Oona River and later sold to someone who beached it as Port Essington. Sarah remembers fishing with her dad and sleeping on the engine box. ( very cool memories). Every year it seems to show its age a bit more.
On our Skeena River Historical Journey by Jet Boat Tour Aug 5-10, 2016 we will travel by Jet boat from Hazelton to Port Edward covering around 50 km a day while we try and visit as many historical sites from the past. The sites will include guest speakers and sites rarely visited or accessible. One of those sites we are hoping to visit is the site of the Chief Comaham gravestone. The site is on private property and access must be respected but we have contacted the owners and it looks like there is a good chance to visit the site.
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. Here is a photo below.
One of the highlights on the UNBC Ghost Towns of Northwest BC educational tour is the visit to the cemetery. It is probably one of the remotes cemeteries in BC as there are no year round residents anywhere near here and when you do it is almost impossible to find as it is tucked away in an overgrown forest. One gravestone that stands out is the one below. The first thing guests notice with the gravestone is that it has been turned over and huge whole remains below it. There are a few stories behind the overturned gravestone and I will let you decide which one is true.
1. The story goes that a middle aged woman of European descent who was quite wealthy was buried with many of her valuable treasures of Gold and Silver. She was buried in 1911 and a rumour out there is that after 100 years of age gravestones are fair game to “retrieve” valuables. The story goes, that 100 years to the day she was buried, a huge hole appeared below the gravestone and all the valuables were missing (or maybe never buried).
2. This story goes that the middle aged European woman had not been sleeping well and had decided to take a copious amount of sleeping pills and had passed out and gone into a mild coma. With no Dr in the small remote community at the time, she was pronounced dead by the minister. With winter fast approaching and the ground already freezing they had to dig a grave quickly and lay the body to rest without a coffin. The lady was actually not dead and just feeling the effects of the sleeping pills and with the chunky frozen earth over top of her in the shallow grave she was able to stay alive and dig her way out of the earth.
3. The story goes that a middle aged European died suddenly and her husband who was the love of her life was devastated. He visited her grave site every day while living in Anyox. When the town closed he moved back to his homeland in Europe but could not leave without being close to his beloved wife. He applied and was granted approval to exhume her and take her back to the homeland where he could bury her again and visit her every day.
If you want want to know the most plausible answer, you can sign up for our Ghost Towns of Northwest BC tour Aug 21-27, 2016 where we will get to the bottom of this unsolved mystery!!
The Salmon Cannery town of Port Essington which we visit on a couple of our tours is a location very rich in history. The town on the lower Skeena River was built by Robert Cunningham in the 1870’s. The early settlers tried to be fairly self sufficient and one of the ways was to grow their food. The land around Port Essington was not that conducive to growing crops. There was a short term dairy cow operation on the limited grazing land. The stories are that the cows ate alot of skunk cabbage which gave the milk a funny taste and not that palatable for many. The dairy operation did not last for that many years. One of the things that the residents did try was fruit trees. Amazingly the apple trees still remain and are scattered through out the site. Here are a few pictures of the apples from last year.
On out Ghost Towns of Northwest BC educational tour we visit the historic and remote town of Anyox. There are the remnants of many buildings on the site but after almost 100 years trying to decipher what each building was, is a mystery. Reading books and articles on the town provides some clues on what the buildings were. We came across one building that had a forest growing out of it, but it had distinctive brick lined vault type walls. That was the first clue that this could have been “Bank of Commerce Branch” vault. The next clue was the excerpt from Pete Loudon’s book “The town that got lost”. On page 44-45 he states “I remember the town had one brick building” ( The Bank of Commerce). On his visit to Anyox he states “We found the pile of red bricks that had been the bank”.
The whole town site is a puzzle as it is overgrown but many structures and remnants remain.
Here are a few photos of what I believe to be the bank vault.