The Port Essington Experience Revealed!

One of the iconic towns of the Skeena River is the town of Port Essington. Founded by Robert Cunningham in 1871 and a fall camping spot of the Tsimshian known as Spokeshute this site has over a wealth of interesting sites and features that will truly amaze you! A jungly 100 year cemetery with hundreds of moss covered headstones, a grisly boneyard of cow skulls and bones, a one km long boardwalk falling into disrepair, pilings protruding out of the brackish river on their last legs, a boiler form the Cunningham sawmill, old bottles, trinkets, and remnants from over 100 years of habitation. The One day Port Essington Experience will jet boat you back in time to a place that few have visited and explored.

May 27, 2017
Terrace, BC

The Guests of Ghost Towns 2016

On all of our trips our guest really make the trips. We have had so many interesting people participate in the tours and it has been great to get to know them over a short period. Many of them are repeat guests that are coming back for another tour the following year. We always like to to take a lot of photos on the tours for marketing purposes and many of these now include photos of guests participating in the tours. Here are some photos from last August’s Ghost Towns of Northwest BC Tour. This year’s tour is starting to fill up and will be another great tour to some of northwest BC’s most remote and inaccessible Ghost Towns.

2016 Ghost Town Guests posing in front of Kitsault sign
Exploring the inside of the Anyox Dam
2016 Ghost Town Guests in front of the Dorreen Store
2016 Ghost Town Guests going into the Alice Arm School
2016 Ghost Town Guests checking out the pilings at low tide
Enroute to Anyox to aboard the Raincoast Explorer
Checking out Ringbolts in Kitselas Canyon
Guests posing in the the Kitsault Maple Leaf Pub
Exploring Anyox Powerhouse
Guests Exploring Kitselas Historic Site
Guests waiting for the stores to open in the Kitsault Mall
Guests enjoying a meal at Alice Arm provided by the locals
Photographing in the Anyox Cemetery
Guests paying for a bottel of water at the Kitsault Grocery store
Guests waiting for the movie to start in the Kitsault Movie theatre

 

 

 

The Port Essington Hi-Lo

One of the most photographed items on our visits to Port Essington is the abandoned boat lying in the deep sedge grass. I was fortunate enough to find out some more information on the boat and acquire a photo of the boat when it was seaworthy. The boats name is the Hi-Lo and it was a small crab fishing boat that plied the inner water of the coast in search of crabs. The lady who told me about it said that she remembers fishing on it it with her grandfather and rolling out a sleeping mat on top of the warm engine compartment at night time to go to sleep. The boat looks a little worse every year we go back there but still stands out prominently in the dark green sedge grass. We visit Port Essington on a few of our tours and we are doing a Brand New one day tour to Port Essington May 27, 2017. Don’t miss this opportunity to visit the town that still “Stands Guard over the Mouth of the Skeena”

The Hi-Lo at Port Essington
Hi-Lo boat

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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NEW! The Port Essington Experience Tour

May 27, 2017
Terrace, BC

$295.00

This is our third new tour that we are introducing this year.  This tour will amaze you with the vast historic remnants from this remote area of the lower Skeena River.  This one will fill up quickly so don’t wait too long to sign up for this truly unique adventure!

Main Street Port Essington

The Port Essington Experience is a unique adventure on the tidal portion of the lower Skeena River. The once thriving cannery town and service centre for the Skeena Region has almost 100 years of history to explore.

One of hundreds of Eerie Headstones in the Essington Cemetery

The overgrown cemetery with hundreds of headstones is a highlight of the tour.  The low tides of the Skeena will expose a myriad of historical features rarely seen,  like the eerie “Essington Bone Yard” with skulls and bones.

100 year old skulls in the Port Essington Bone Yard

 

Artifacts from the canneries past lie abandoned on the beach and inland. These will help us learn more about the incredible history of the town that the Tsimshians called “Spa Xksuutks”.

The Pilings at Port Essington “courtesy of guest Andrew Pugh”

Our adventure will also include stops at other Skeena Cannery sites like Claxton, Carlisle, Balmoral, Haysport and Cannery Row.  We will boat by the unique and rarely visited Icelandic community of Osland with its km long boardwalk.  You won’t want to miss an opportunity to visit these rarely visited and unique sites on the lower Skeena River.

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2017 Skeena River Historic Journey

August 1-6, 2017
Hazelton – Port Edward, BC

Join us for a one a kind journey as we jet boat 200 km of the amazing Skeena River from Hazelton to Port Edward. You will not find a tour like this anywhere else as the guests overnight in a different accommodation adjacent tot he river each night.

 

Jet Boating down the Skeena River
Jet Boating down the Skeena River enroute to Port Edward
Sternwheeler – The Hazelton

This five day experience will retrace the travels of the sternwheelers that navigated the Skeena River from Hazelton to Port Essington in the early 1900’s. You will join a small group of 10 guests boarding two jet boats to begin a 300 kilometer journey along the Skeena River, through the coastal mountains before arriving at Port Edward. Much of the time will be spent floating the river without the engines running allowing you to enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of the river on this trip of a lifetime!You will eat, sleep and breathe early Skeena River history for five days on the river, while gaining knowledge about the region from a variety of guest speakers and first nation’s communities. Historic sights of interest will be visited and discussed as your group navigates through some of the most scenic landscapes in the world. This journey will provide photographers with some very unique picture taking opportunities. You will spend all five nights in accommodations adjacent to the Skeena River.

Traditional Kitseguecla Smokehouse
Traditional Kitseguecla Smokehouse

DAY 1 – HAZELTON TO KITWANGA
The first day of the trip will begin in the community of Hazelton where we will have a “meet and greet” breakfast which will include introductions and a discussion of the tour itinerary. Your first stop is the aboriginal historic site of Ksan. From there, you will board one of two jet powered river boats and begin your voyage down the river towards the ocean. This section of the Skeena was notorious for its navigation hazards and the difficulty it presented for the Sternwheelers, but this will not be an issue for our modern day jet boat transportation. As you journey down the river, your tour guide will highlight many of the stories from this early period of British Columbia’s history and will identify the associated locations. You will stop at the First Nations community of Gitsegukla or “People of the sharp pointed mountain” where a hereditary chief will provide a cultural tour of the village. Next, the tour will travel to “The People of the Place of Rabbits” or Gitwangak, where another hereditary chief will share their knowledge of the carved house totem poles that date back to 1840. The final stop of the first day will be to visit a First Nations salmon netting and processing site on the banks of the river, below the community of Gitwangak. Your accommodations on this first night will be in unique “wall tents” adjacent to the mighty Skeena River that are erected on cedar platforms with spacious sundecks and commanding views. These deluxe tents are well appointed with quiltcovered queen sized beds, antique furnishings, rugs and oil lamps to lend luxury and romance to a “roughing it” experience. The tour will commence in the community of Hazelton with a visit to the historic village of Ksan, a living museum of the Gitxsan Aboriginal people. The trip will finish in the Skeena River Estuary where you will explore the history of the north coast canneries and fishing villages. The last two nights will be spent in the historic “Cassiar Cannery”, a once thriving salmon cannery recently restored as luxury accommodations. You will complete your journey by retracing the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad route on a return trip to Hazelton by rail.

Woodcock Airstrip on the banks of the Skeena River
Robert Tomlinson Grave at the Meanskinisht Cemetery on the Skeena River
Very Unique Accommodations on the first night of the trip
Very Unique Accommodations on the first night of the trip

DAY 2- KITWANGA TO TERRACE
This will be one of the busiest days as the tour will be stopping at as many historic sites as possible. The day will start with a quick stop at Woodcock, which is home to a crumbling RCAF runway adjacent to the Skeena River. Shortly after this stop, your tour will arrive at the present day site of Cedarvale, or Meanskinisht, as it was known in the early 1900’s. With so much to visit, the jet boats will power through some of the most well know rapids with names like “Devil’s Elbow”, “Hornet’s nest”, and “Gig Rapids”. These rapids were the demise of more than one Skeena River Sternwheeler over the
years. The remote “Ghost Town of Dorreen” will be visited, with one of the part-time residents guiding the group through the scattering of buildings and old vehicles that still remain. The once thriving town of Usk will warrant a quick visit, reaction ferry ride, and presentation by a long time resident. The next stop will be Kitselas Canyon, which was, and still is, the most feared section of the Skeena River. Your second night’s accommodation at the Magnificent Yellow Cedar Lodge on the banks of the Skeena River.

Historic Ring Bolt on Ringbolt Island
Historic Ring Bolt on Ringbolt Island
The Dorreen General Store

DAY 3- “TERRACE TO KASIKS
After a hearty breakfast in the lodge your journey will continue through some of the most scenic sections of the trip as the Skeena River carves its way through the towering, snowcapped, coastal mountains. This day will be taken at a slower pace with more time to explore islands and gravel bars in search of that unique photo or memory. The jet boats will float many portions of the river on this day, allowing time to just take in the awe inspiring beauty. One of the highlights will be a lunch time salmon BBQ on a Skeena River gravel bar. If water levels permit, you will jet boat up one of the many scenic Skeena River tributaries – some of which are known as “The Most Beautiful Rivers in the World”.

Cruising up a Skeena River Tributary

DAY 4- KASIKS TO CASSIAR
This segment of the trip marks the tidal portion of the Skeena River. You will boat by some magnificent scenery on this day as waterfalls cascade down from the glaciers and the vegetation and ecology changes to a coastal variety. You will visit Port Essington which is the site of a salmon cannery that operated in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Highlights here include the eerie moss covered grave sites in the cemetery, and the remnants of the historic boardwalk. If the group desires, a stop for a soak in a remote hot spring can be accommodated. The tour will then make its way through the Skeena River estuary before arriving at Cassiar Cannery where you will spend the next two nights.

Port Essington Pilings
Port Essington Cemetery

DAY 5- SKEENA ESTUARY
The last full day on the water will be spent exploring the canneries and fishing communities of the lower Skeena River. The first stop will be the unique fishing community of Osland. The long boardwalk, which is supposedly an extension of Highway 16, and a variety of old fishing boats and cabins will be explored, providing opportunities for photographers to obtain unique photos. The tour will then explore the old cannery locations of Carlisle and Claxton on the south side of the Skeena River. The old pilings, structures and discarded items will again make for some interesting photography. The day will end with a tour of the North Pacific Cannery Historic Site and then back to the Cassiar Cannery.

Osland Boardwalk
Cassiar Manager’s Houses

DAY 6- TRAIN TO HAZELTON

Waiting for the Train at Cassiar Cannery

For more information on this tour please contact:
Rob Bryce (250) 960-5982 or Rob.Bryce@unbc.ca

2017 Canneries of the Northcoast Tour

Canneries of the Northcoast

May 8-11, 2017
Cassiar Cannery, Port Edward, BC

We are excited this year to have a new format for the canneries tour.  We have three  jam packed days of touring the old cannery sites of the seldom visited  lower Skeena River.

Rusty Old Cannery Roof

Explore the once thriving canneries and fishing communities of the lower Skeena River and Chatham Sound. For three days and four nights you will be immersed in the history of this region as we spend out nights in the newly renovated manager’s houses on the site of Cassiar Cannery. This will be our base for exploring the area as we leave each morning by Jet Boat on a new adventure. This seldom explored area is home to some of the most unique and interesting historical sites. Over twenty canneries once lined the bank of the Skeena and ocean shores, but they have all since closed and only remnants remain. The history from the 100 years of operation is rich and plentiful as we get to see for ourselves the locations of all these sites.

Old boat layed to rest

Explore the following Canneries:
• Balmoral
• Carlisle
• Cassiar
• Claxton
• Haysport
• North Pacific
• Porcher Island
• Port Essington
• Dominion
• Sunnyside
• Inverness

Old Cannery on skeena Slough

• Oceanic

Port Essington Pilings by guest Andrew Pugh

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Cassiar Cannery Manager Houses voted one of the most unique accommodations in BC

2017 Ghost Towns of Northwest BC

Investigate the abandoned Ghost Towns of Northwest BC

Ghost Towns of Northwest BC
August 20-26, 2017
Terrace, BC

Don’t Miss out on our most popular tour as it will fill up again in 2017.

Anyox Coke Plant

 

This 5 day northern BC adventure is a must for the Ghost Town aficionado. Exclusive access to some of British Columbia’s most restricted ghost town’s will be provided. The remoteness and history of these fabled towns will amaze even those without an interest in the eerie past of these boom and bust communities. You will visit the modern day Ghost town of Kitsualt which has sat vacant for over 30 years and the only thing missing are the people. We have been granted access to the remote and historic mining town of Anyox which has been referred to as the “The Town that got Lost”. The once thriving mining town had over 3000 residents in 1914 but has now been uninhabited for the past 80 years. The tour also includes an adventure to one of BC’s most inaccessible ghost town’s, Alice Arm and the historic ghost towns on the Skeena River; Port Essington and Doreen. We will utilize ocean going boats and jet boats to access these remote locations. Hopefully you are not afraid of ghosts as we will be overnighting in three of these eerie towns. Don’t miss this chance of a lifetime to be part of this special trip!

DAY ONE
We travel east of Terrace and launch our two jet boats on the magnificent Skeena River and take a short boat ride to the north side of the river. After a short walk we arrive at Dorreen, at the base of glacier-covered Mt. Knauss. Our local guide will show us around the once thriving town and share is passion and history of the town. The town used to be a prospering mining and farming town on the GTP rail line, but today only a dozen cabins and houses are still remain and most people use it as a summer getaway. The town is hub for old antique discarded vehicles that were brought in by train to drive on the few km’s of dirt road.

Old truck in the Ghost Town of Dorreen
Old truck in the Ghost Town of Doreen

DAY TWO
We will travel downstream (west) towards the historic cannery town of Port Essington. Built in 1875, this town was the life of the mighty Skeena River until 1910, when another town to the north, Prince Rupert, was built at the terminus of the railway. At this ghost-town you will have the opportunity to capture amazing historic photos and explore the forest where remnants of the past await us with a special story behind each one. Afterwards we’ll take a boat ride across the river to a small hidden hot spring, where we can soak in a small pool under the towering coastal Sitka Spruce rainforest.

The Boneyard at Port Essington
The Remnants of the Pilings at tthe Cannery Ghost Town of Port Essington

DAY THREE
On your third day you will drive through the heart of a historic lava flow en route to the coastal village of Gingolx. At this village we will meet our boat and captain who will take us into Observatory Inlet on the way to the once bustling site of Anyox. The boat will go at a relaxing pace to see the amazing coastal scenery and observe wildlife along the way. Our stop will be at the abandoned town of Anyox, once the most important smelter along the west coast. Remains of old railway cars, power stations, general store and the once largest dam in Canada will be toured.

The Anyox Dam

DAY FOUR
We spend the day at Alice Arm, the legendary silver mining town and site of the once famous Dolly Varden Mining Railway whose narrow gauge track led up the Kitsault river to several rich mine sites. The town has several dilapidated cabins and stores, alongside modernized cabins used as summer retreats. We will walk around the historic sites, meet some locals and walk to a nearby waterfall, where salmon can be  seen spawning. We will be treated to a seafood barbecue by the only year round residents of Alice Arm.

Alice Arm Haunted House

DAY FIVE
After a comfortable and peaceful night at Alice Arm Lodge, we will travel by boat across the inlet to the modern day Ghost Town of Kitsault. Our exclusive access to this site will include a tour of the site and the many buildings that have sat vacant as is since 1981. This will include the shopping centre, swimming pool, school, theatre and much more. We will spend the night in one of the 1980’s style apartments and get rested for our 4 hour drive through the coastal mountains back to Terrace the following morning.

36 years of emptiness in Kitsault Shopping Centre

 

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2017 Northern B.C. Adventure Tour Dates Just Released

2017 UNBC Continuing Studies
Northern B.C. Adventure Tours

NOW OPEN  FOR REGISTRATION!

A one-of-a-kind experience. Since 2014, UNBC Continuing Studies has been offering awe-struck adventurers rare access to seldom-visited historic sites, wondrous wildlife, and stunning natural scenery that is distinctly Northern British Columbia. See our list of past and new tours that are now open for registration.  Check back daily for blog posts on all of the tours!
 
Sturgeon caught for research purposes Fraser River White Sturgeon Tour

Upper Fraser White Sturgeon Biology Experience
May 4-5, 2017
Prince George, BC

Canneries of the Northcoast
May 8-June 11, 2017
Cassiar Cannery, Port Edward, BC

Cassiar Cannery Canneries of the North Coast Tour

Historic Fort George River Journey
May 15 or June 17, 2017
Prince George, BC

Historic Ft George Canyon Historic Ft George River Journey Tour

The Port Essington Experience
May 27, 2017
Terrace, BC

The Port Essington Experience Tour

“The Town That Got Lost” Anyox Exploration
June 3-4, 2017
Terrace, BC

The Anyox Powerhouse “The Town That Got Lost” Anyox Exploration Tour

Northwest BC Grizzly Bear Discovery Tour
June 6-10, 2017
Terrace, BC

Grizzly Bear walking the shore Northwest BC Grizzly Bear Discovery Tour

Skeena River Historical Jet Boat Journey
August 1-6, 2017
Hazelton – Port Edward, BC

Navigating the 200 km trip down the Skeena River Skeena River Historical Jet Boat Journey Tour

Ghost Towns of Northwest BC
August 20-26, 2017
Terrace, BC

The Ghostly and Abandoned Kitsault Shopping Centre Ghost Towns of Northwest BC Tour
Combining the knowledge of local experts with unique destinations and activities, Continuing Studies’ jet boat tours will provide you a spectacular story all your own.
 
“It was indeed one of the best travel and educational experiences that I have encountered.”
–          Ron Paull
For more information check out our Blog or our website http://www.unbc.ca/continuing-studies/courses-workshops
or contact Rob Bryce at (250) 960-5982 or rob.bryce@unbc.ca

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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