Cannibals of the Grand Canyon of the Fraser

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!

The infamous “Cannibal Bar /Island” to the right! Is that a bone I see sticking out of the ground?
A scow making its way through the canyon
A scow lining its way through the canyon
Jet Boating through the Canyon
Jet Boating through the canyon
Jet Boating up the Canyon

 

A Tale of Two Ghost Towns – Kitsault & Alice Arm

The 1922 Alice Arm School
One of the apartment buildings in Kitsault.
Faded stop sign that is not really needed anymore as there is no traffic
Inside the Kitsault Shopping Centre
Access to the town is restricted and permission is needed to enter the town
An old paved road slowly getting moss covered
Inside one of the apartment living rooms
Our guests from the 2018 tour
The empty post office boxes
Swimming pool at Kitsault
The pool table ready for another game
The library still full of books
One of abandoned streets
Another street in Kitsault
A carport of one of the houses
Operating room in the hospital
Curling rocks waiting for another game
A couple of guests in the Maple Leaf Pub
Kitsault Movie Theatre
Squash Courts
Faded stop sign
Blue Heron Gallery in Alice Arm
The entrance to the Kitsault Mall
A faded swing set seat
Chests in the teacherage of the Alice Arm school

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.

Fort George River Journey – In your backyard!

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!

Guests looking at the Ferry Pontoons
Learning about the history of Goat Island while on Goat Island
An old Sternwheeler Bollard for tying up
Checking out Ft George Canyon
The old pontoons on the Nechako River
The span of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
Jet Boating through Ft George Canyon

 

Anyox – “The Town that got Lost” 2018 Tour Highlights

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.

1922 Anyox Surge tank still standing after almost 100 years
One of the guests looking through a window of the Anyox Powerhouse
Guests exploring inside the historic Anyox Powerhouse
One of the many headstones that still stand in the Anyox cemtery
Guests sitting on the top deck of the boat as we cruise down Observatory inlet enroute to Anyox
Checking out the water release valves inside the Anyox dam
Guests checking out the side of the Anyox Powerhouse
Guests photographing a lonely fire hydrant in the forest
The almost 100 year old Anyox Dam
An old steam locomotive lying abandoned in the swamp
The walls of the Anyox General Store
The Anyox Coking plant and stack reaching out above the forest

Adventures in the Land of Grizzly Bears

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.

Floating lodge for the last three nights of bear viewing
A mom with three cubs digging for crabs
A young cub cruising the beach
A family of t four grizzly bears
Enroute to a remote coastal estuary
A young grizzly with a mouthful of Lyngby Sedge
A young grizzly playing with a stick
Off to go find some bears
Big male with a mouthful of sedge
Young bear resting after a long day of playing
This guy wasn’t expecting to see us!
The beautiful Yellow Cedar Lodge where we stay the first three nights of the trip

 

Ghost Towns of the East Line

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!

Jet Boating through through the historic Grand Canyon of the Fraser
The old Penny BeeHive Burner
Jet Boating down the Fraser River on a sunny May day
Jet Boating through the Grand Canyon of the Fraser
Remnants of a Bee Hive burner along the Fraser River
Enjoying lunch with one of the locals
An old record player in a local homestead
Inside the Penny Community Hall
The Penny Cemetery
Entering the Grand Canyon of the Fraser
Waiting for the guests to arrive on the VIA Rail train
The Via Rail train arriving
An old homestead in Penny
Penny Community hall
The Penny Post Office

2018 Canneries of the North Coast Highlights

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.

Here are some photos of the 2018 tour

Old Boat House at Oona River
Old Growth walk along Oona River
Exploring old Boardwalk among the sedge grass.
Exploring amongst the pilings of an old cannery
Heading back to jet boat after exploring old cannery ruins
Some of the guests aboard the bus at Oona River
Exploring the ruins of Claxton Cannery
Remains of the old Dr House near Dodge Cove
Photographing an discarded headstone left n the mud
Exploring the “Bone Yard” between the cannery piliings
An old headstone at a lower Skeena Cemetery
Enjoying lunch and the views on a secluded island beach
The remains of the humpback bay cannery
The “Rainbow House” at Oona River!
Remains of a lower Skeena River Cannery

2019 Adventure Brochure is out!

We are excited to release the dates for our 2019 Adventure Tours and the brochure.  Here is a snapshot of the two page brochure.  Individual brochures for each tour will be out shortly.

Let us know if you have any questions about this years tours!

Rob.bryce@unbc.ca

New Schedule for 2019

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.

We watched this little grizzly for 30 min before he even knew he was being watched!
Our group that toured Kitsault and Alice Arm along with the manager of the Modern day Ghost Town!
One of the many cannery sites we visit on our “Canneries of the Northcoast Tour”. A great tour for those looking for unique and seldom visited sites!
We use the majestic Skeena River for a couple of our tours. There is nothing like the passing through the coastal mountains on the river on a bluebird day!
Very few people get a chance to go through the “Grand Canyon of the Fraser” in a jet boat and experience what the early explorers did!
We find some of the nicest places on the north coast to enjoy a tasty lunch!
You will not find the uniqueness of these buildings anywhere else. Buildings that are over 100 years old and still standing today! Anyox is remote and inaccessible but we can get you there.
This place is a photographers dream and a place where you can go back in time!
We get you up close and personal with the longest railway bridge in BC. Over 100 years old and still going strong!
Guest arriving on float plane to view bears in a remote Grizzly Bear Sanctuary

The Mystery of the “STOLEN” Anyox Light Bulbs!

Why would the word “STOLEN” be stenciled onto a light bulb!

The Mysterious Anyox "STOLEN" Light bulb
The Mysterious Anyox “STOLEN” 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.