During our “Ghost Towns of Northwest BC” tour we are fortunate enough to stay overnight in a few of the Ghost Towns. These include Anyox, Alice Arm and Kitsault. Kitsault is the modern day ghost town that has sat empty since 1982 when the Molybdenum mine shut down and the residents were forced to leave. Our guests will be staying in one of the family apartments while we tour the community. If you are looking to be “Taken back in time” then you do not want to miss this opportunity. One of the time capsule moments that stuck with me during the visits is the “Harvest Gold” appliances that accompany each suite. These bring back many memories from my youth when we had the same colored stoves and fridges.
The boat building community of Oona river on Porcher Island is one of our stops on the “Canneries of the NorthCoast” tour in late May. The community is a very interesting place with remnants of the boat building past everywhere. One thing that does not fit the theme of this era is the “Rainbow House. It is owned by Oona River residents Lutz and Wendy. When I asked about the story behind the house they told me they painted it these colors to brighten up the place during the cloudy and rainy days that the coast frequently experiences. Btw If you were wondering what the weather is doing right now at Oona River they also have a weather station there. http://www.weatherlink.com/user/orhabc
Here are a few photos of the Rainbow House
The 1914-1935 copper smelting town of Anyox is one of the Ghost Towns we visit on our “Ghost Towns of Northwest BC” tour. One of its claims to fame is the most westerly golf course Canada. In this hilly town where most of the relatively flat real estate was being used by the town, it had to be creative to come up with a site for a golf course. The smelter waste was called slag and it created vast amounts of this of which it disposed of it on the shore of the ocean ( and into the ocean). The tiny black silica particles actually provide a suitable subsurface for a golf course and this idea did not get past local resident Sid Peters. In 1929 Sid suggested this idea to some other residents and they all laughed at him. He persevered and created a 9 hole course with gullies, holes, and water hazards (ocean). The course was quite successful with regular tournaments on sundays. Gentlemen in the morning and ladies in the afternoon. Here are a few photos of the slag pile, ladies golf club and the remnants of an old Tee Box.
The 1871 salmon cannery community of Port Essington was founded by Robert Cunningham. He quickly built this lower Skeena River place into a thriving town with many amenities for a such a small and remote community. The town faded away in the mid 1900’s but within the at time many people were buried in the local cemetery. During three of our Educational Travel Tours in 2016 we will visit the site. Whether you are a ghost town guru, avid photographer or history buff this visit will be one of the most unique site’s on the Northcoast. The jungly, undulating forest on a rock outcrop is the final resting place for over a hundred Port Essington residents. The elevated moss covered gravestones protrude through the lush coastal vegetation while the flat headstones have vanished below the carpet of moss.
Here are a few of my favorite headstones
During our “Canneries of the NorthCoast” tour and two nights of the “Skeena River Historic Journey by Jet Boat” we will be staying at the historic Cassiar Cannery on the banks of the Skeena River near the estuary. The guest will be staying in the former homes of the cannery managers, the houses have been restored and are fully furnished with luxury linens and complete kitchens.
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. Here is a link to their website.
Each morning we will board the jetboats in front of the Cannery and head off for our next adventure. We do not have to travel far as this area of the Skeena was the epicentre of the commercial salmon industry. There are remnants from the past everywhere if you know where to look. Let us show you some amazing sights and also learn about this historic area of our province.
Here is a link to a “Time lapse video” from the deck of one of the Guest Houses.
On our “Skeena River Historical Journey by Jet Boat” we will retrace the route of the mighty sternwheelers that navigated the Skeena River in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s. The trip from Hazelton to Cassiar Cannery will focus a lot on the history and visiting some of the more interesting sites along the river. One of the stops will be the community of Meanskinisht or Cedarvale as it is more commonly known as now. Meanskinisht was founded in 1888 by Anglican Missionary Robert Tomlinson who had previously served at Metlakatla and Kincolith on the north coast. Tomlinson ran a very strict religious community which attracted first nations from around the region. The community was referred to as the “Holy City”. Sundays were a day of rest and not even the Sternwheelers were welcome to stop to drop off mail on those days. Robert Tomlinson’s wife was named Alice of which the name “Alice Arm” came from (coincidentally we visit Alice Arm on our Ghost Towns of Northwest BC Tour). We will have local community members Lyle and Mary Dahlen tour us through the Meanskinisht cemetery and the museum.
The early 1900’s fishing community of Oona River is one of our stops on the May 29-June 3, 2016 “Canneries of the Northcoast” tour through Continuing Studies. The community lies on the southeast corner of Porcher Island. The community boasts over 130 boats being built there in one of the many boat building sheds. Many of these boat sheds still remain today even though no boat building occurs. The sheds and old boats spending their final resting days on the shores of Porcher Island are a photographers paradise. We will also have a local community member tour us around the site and share her history and knowledge of the place. Here are a few photos of Oona River.
On the UNBC Educational Tour “Canneries of the Northcoast ” & “The Skeena River Historical Journey by Jet Boat” we will visit the Icelandic fishing community of Osland. It is situated on Smith Island at the mouth of the Skeena River. The community was settled 1910-15 with a group of Icelandic individuals from the province of Manitoba. The community was quite small with a population rarely exceeding 100. The main industry was fishing. Today it is a small community of cabins and cottages with a scattereing of old boats and relics from the fishing days. The most unique feature is the 1 km long boardwalk that parallels the ocean which makes for a magnificent stroll while looking for that unique photo.
During our Skeena River Historical Jet Boat Journey tour Aug 5-10, 2016 we will make our way from Hazelton to Port Edward over 5 days. Each day we we will visit some of the more interesting historical sites along the way. One of these that lies adjacent to the Skeena River near Cedarvale is the old 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. Here are a few photos of the airstrip.
On our “Canneries of the NorthCoast” Tour we will visit the the sites of over 10 canneries that were situated in the Skeena River Estuary. Some have many buildings still remaining while others are just a a set of pilings. For those that like to explore and “poke” around there is always a plethora of items to find laying in the mud or in the forest where the canneries once stood. For photographers there is no shortage of unique and interesting photo opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else.
Haysport was one of these Skeena River Canneries. it lies on the north side of the Skeena River across from Port Essington and adjacent to the Grand Trunk Pacific rail line. It was named for Charles Hays, president of the railway at the time. It was established in cold Storage facility in 1910 and as a cannery in 1919. By the 1930’s fishereis had moved the commercial fishing boundary below this point which hurt the cannery and it eventually closed in 1938.
Today many pilings remain as well as a 500 m fairly intact boardwalk or Haysport mainstreet. There are also lots of old items and remnants still littering the surrounding forest.