The Story of Chief Comaham

 

The Skeena River is rich in first nations history and one of the more interesting stories is that of Chief Comaham.  He died on the Skeena River in 1873.

It was hot August day when he and his family were paddling up river from Port Simpson to a village at the mouth of the Lakelse River.  As he paddled his restless daughter stood up in the canoe as they hit a whirlpool and over she went in the swift current of the Skeena near Shames creek.  The chief quickly jumped over board in search of his young daughter and he was quickly consumed by the fast and dirty water. First Nations from up and down the river mobilized in search of their bodies but none was ever found. Comaham was a head man for Port Simpson so a great funeral and ceremony was conducted. A large marble headstone was commissioned and placed on the edge of the river near where he died. The headstone still stands in place, weathered from over 130 years.  The headstone lies on private property and cannot be visited without special permission.  We were fortunate enough to have access for our guests to visit it on our “Skeena River Historical Journey”.  Much of the information above is summarized from an article by Ruth M. Hallock.

Chief Comaham Headstone
Guests looking at Comaham Headstone

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UNBC Adventure Tours Wildlife

On all of our Adventure tours the chances of seeing some sort of wildlife are almost guaranteed. The places we visit are remote and relatively untouched with few visitors. The bird life is amazing with so many species and a variety depending on where we are. There is always a chance to see a bear or moose and the odds go op greatly when we target the species. Here are just a few photos of some of the wildlife.

Coastal Wolf courtesy of Guest Bo
Western Tanager

 

Porpoise that frequent the lower Skeena/ ocean
Kingfisher with a fish in mouth courtesy of Guest Bo
Mergansers – Notice the fish in the mouth
Cormorants

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Guests exploring the Anyox Dam

One of the highlights of visiting the Ghost Town of Anyox is the trip up to the Anyox Dam or Dam#2as the residents called it. The dam is about 4 km up a winding road that eventually drops down to the site. It is a truly awe inspiring moment when you come around a corner and see this massive concrete structure located in a small valley 120 miles north of Prince Rupert down Observatory inlet. The dam was completed in 1923 and was built by hauling pallets of concrete bags up a single guauge railway line operated by electric hoists. The dam is 635 ft long and 137 ft high and 28 000 acre ft of water capacity. In 1923 before the dam was complete heavy rains caused a landslide above the dam and the debris from the slide plugged the penstocks and the water level rose to dangerous levels so much so that they had to evacuate people living in the lower parts of Anyox below. The water eventually subsided and the dam was completed.
we will be visiting the dam on our brand new two day “Anyox – The town that got lost” tour June 3-4, 2017 and on our Ghost Towns of Northwest BC Tour August 21-17, 2017. Don’t miss your chance to be on of the few people to visit this iconic structure.

Inside the Anyox Dam
The Anyox dam
The top of the Anyox dam
Guests checking out the arches of the dam
Photographing inside the Anyox Dam
Admiring the Anyox dam
A guest photographing the architecture of the dam

 

 

 

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The Usk Bunny

We jet boat down the “River of Mists” or Skeena as it is better known on a few of our tours and at one of the spots near the tiny town of Usk we come around a corner and there lies a “Giant Bunny” Towering over the River. It takes many of the guests awhile to see this massive bunny but once seen it is always easy to spot again. The river provides a great vantage point to see the bunny. You can also spot the bunny in a few spots from the highway as well. Thanks @simonsees for the photo

Usk Bunny outline

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Going back in time to the Kitsault Mall

Who thought it was possible to go back in time. Visiting the Kitsault Mall may be as close as one can get to a time warp. The mall closed shortly after it opened and I think they were still looking to fill all the stores. As seen in the Kitsault Times the mall opened in 1982 and the residents were told to leave in 1983. The “Hospitality Foods” still has grocery carts in the store, the bank still has the charge machines and stationery. The mall had a grocery store, restuarant, sports store, post office, clothing, sears and more. It is quite the feeling wandering around the mall and expecting people to come out of the stores or expecting there to be packages of bacon in the meat section of the grocery store. We will be heading back to Kitsault in August 2017 as one of the five ghost towns on our “Ghost Towns of Northwest BC tour.

The Kitsault Times Mall Opening
Hospitality foods
Kitsault Post Office
Empty Store shelves
The Kitsault Sears
Kitsault Post Office
Kitsault Post Office

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What lies below the Cannery Tides?

One of the most interesting times to explore the old canneries of the Skeena River is at low tide. This area still has upto 20 ft tides and for a few hours each day the shores come alive with items from the past that provide some insights into the history of these abandoned sites. We usually visit a couple of them at low tide and provide the guests with some time to explore. Old animal skulls, bones, teeth, headstones, bricks, beach glass, muffin pans, pots, ceramics, and much more still remain. Every cannery is unique with the remnants from the past depending on the dismantling, length of operation and year it closed. These seldom visited sites are truly a unique trip and we visit them on our Canneries of the North Coast tour in May 2017.

Skulls below the tide
Claxton Cannery at low tide
My thats a big tooth
Muffin Pan
Abandoned Headstone visible at low tide
More low tide cannery remnants

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The Bolts of Ringbolt Island

One of the highlights on a couple of our tours is a jet boat ride through Kitselas Canyon. The narrow canyon restricts the flow of the Skeena River into two narrow channels. The narrowing made the canyon unnavigable for the Sternwheelers of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Their engines and paddles were not to propel them through the canyon during all but low water levels. This made the need for large steel bolts to be drill into the rock island in the middle of the canyon. The sternwheelers were then able to run a steel cable through the bolts and back to the capstan to winch the boat through. Ringbolt Island has the highest concentration of bolts but they are also lined all the way up the canyon. Every time we boat through the canyon we spot new ones. They blend in with the moss covered rocks and can be difficult to see. Be one of the few people to see this part of the Skeena River History and visit the Island during one of our adventure tours.

Ringbolt island Ring in Kitselas Canyon
Ring Bolt with Cable still attached
Bolts on RingBolt Island
Kitselas Canyon with Ringbolt Island on the left
Can you spot the ringbolt
Ring Bolt on Ringbolt Island
Kitselas Canyon Ringbolt

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Be a Part of a Unique White Sturgeon Research Project

Have you ever wanted to be a part of a very unique and exclusive research project. The White Sturgeon Biology Project in partnership with EDI Environmental Dynamics and the L’heildli Tenneh First Nation. This two day tour on the upper Fraser River we track Sturgeon with radio telemetry equipment and then attempt to catch them with set lines and angling gear. Guests learn all about these prehistoric fish and all the surgical and measurement techniques that are done for each fish caught. This years two day Jet Boat Sturgeon Project takes place on May 4-5, 2017.

Upper Fraser White Sturgeon
Upper Fraser White Sturgeon
Radio Telemetry Tracking
Radio telemetry receiver
Tracking sturgeon with telemetry receiver
Inserted radio tag coming out of the sturgeon

 

 

 

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Have You Ever Held A Waterfall?

The Skeena River is fed by thousands of waterfalls cascading down the mountain slopes  into it’s tributaries.  A couple of the rivers we venture up are untouched with no roads or industry and the steep valley walls are a perfect recipe for hundreds of waterfalls.  During the spring melt and after a rainfall the valley rocks walls become alive with waterfalls cascading in all directions.   With UNBC’s Adventure Tours “Experience the Extraordinary!”

Holding a waterfall
Holding Rooster Tail Falls
Hanging out at the Falls
Magnificent Waterfalls

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Gitsegukla Totem Poles

One of the highlights on our 2016 “Skeena River Historical Jet Boat Journey” was a visit by boat to the Gitxsan Community of Gitegukla.   Gitsegukla roughly translates to “people living under the precipice” or more specifically under the “Segukla” or “sharp-pointed” mountain.  A few of the community members toured us through the village to view a variety of poles and told us about the history of each.  Each pole represents a house or family crest that illustrate historical events that occured in the past.

Totem poles are typically not maintained after their raising and usually last from 60 to 75 years with a few reaching 100 years of age.  A fallen pole is usually left to rot in the in the place it has fallen and thee owners can commission a new one to replace it.

We can’t wait to go back in early August 2017 on the Skeena River Tour to visit them again!

Gitsegukla Totem Pole
Gitsegukla Fallen Totem
Gitsegukla community member with one of our guests
Gitsegukla Totem Poles