Running the Historic Kitselas Canyon


Taking a jet boat through the historic Kitselas Canyon is definitely one of the highlights of a couple of our tours where we run jet boat with our guests through the Canyon. The full force of the Skeena River is condensed into two narrow channels that were just wide enough for a sternwheeler to navigate through. It wasn’t until 1891 that the first Sternwheeler “Caledonia” was successful where others failed in running up and through the churning waters of the canyon. Running through the canyon is always an exhilarating ride but especially during high water in the spring when the full volume of water pours through. One of the most notable incidents in the canyon was the sinking of the Hudson’s Bay Company Sternwheeler the “Mount Royal”. It was July 6, 1907 when a blast of wind turned the boat sideways as it entered the upper canyon. This wind turned it sideways and wedged it sideways across Ringbolt Island where it eventually sank.

The Inlander navigating Kitselas Canyon

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UNBC Adventure Tours Jet Boat Safety

On our UNBC Adventure Tours guest safety is one of our main concerns. With many of our tours utilizing jet boats we must enure the drivers have a vast amount of experience driving jet boats and familiarity with the rivers and ocean that we take guests up. We many pre-trip inspections of the waters we venture into to ensure we do not incur any surprises. One of our drivers is Terrace resident Fred Seiler and owner of Northwest Jet Boat Services http://northwestjetboat.ca/.  Fred has thousands of hours of experience on the rivers and also instructs our UNBC Jet Boat Safety course.  Our guests are in good hands with Fred at the helm of the jet boat.

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Anyox General Store

The Anyox General store was one of two stores in the community.  It was the company store that was owned and ran by the Granby Compaany.  The other store was “Franks” or Frank Lew Luns and it was one of the only non company owned buildings in the town.  The General store got shipments of fresh fruit, vegetables and milk twice a week.  An interesting side note is that the company did try and have fresh milk by bringing in 12 dairy cows but the Smelter killed off all the vegetation in Anyox and there was no grass for them forage on and they were eventually condemned for being sickly and sent to the incinerator. The store really was the hub of the town and on saturdays and paydays it was bustling with activity.  The store sits on the ocean and is one of the first structures one sees when entering Granby Bay,  It is 117 ft long and 60 ft wide and three stories high. It sold groceries, postoffice, clothing, furnishings etc.   The store is an eerie place now as a forest of trees has taken over where the rows of canned goods and ladies fashions once sat.  The branches have climbed there way through the roof and windows and break the beams of sunlight that try and penetrate the floor.

Anyox general store
Anyox general store today
Sun shining through the remains of the Anyox Store
Front of the Anyox general store

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Skeena River Unique Accommodations

One of the things we strive to include in all of our tours is  the “uniqueness”  of all aspects.  Our locations that we visit are all unique northern BC focused.  On our Skeena River Historical Journey we re-trace the route and history of the early 1900 paddlewheelers that navigated the infamous Skeena River from Hazelton to Port Essington.  Our goal for this tour is to have the guests overnight in accommodations as close to the Skeena River as possible and have their luggage transported to the next nights accommodations and have it waiting there for them while they are on the river learning about the history and taking in the sights.   One of these is the Soaring Spirits Lodge in which we spend out first night.  These unique raised “tent” sites are quite luxurious and  will make for a special story and memory that you will never forget.  Our Skeena River Tour is scheduled for August 1-6, 2017.

Unique Skeena River Accommodations
One of our “Skeena River Historical Journey” guests in her tent accommodations
Unique Skeena River Accommodations
Tent Accommodations along the banks of the Skeena River

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Jet Boating with UNBC Adventure Tours

The jet boat is one of the most versatile modes for transporting guests into remote and otherwise inaccessible locations. These boats have alot of horsepower that allows us to carry 5 guests per boat and move them up rivers to amazing places with incredible  scenery.  Most of our tours utilize jet boats for a portion of the trip as we navigate larger rivers like the Skeena and Fraser and then smaller tributaries of the Skeena and rivers off remote ocean inlets.  Navigating up and down rivers provides an exhilarating experience as you never know what is around the next corner. They are great for photography as they can be stopped quickly and held in place to allow guests to get that shot of a lifetime.

Jet Boating remote rivers
Photographing the amazing scenery
Around every corner is another experience

 

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Beachcombing Grizzly Bears


One of the highlights of the Northwest BC Grizzly Bear Discovery Tour is the viewing of the Grizzlies beach combing for clams and other grubs as they over turn boulders looking for that next meal.  In the spring we usually see them roaming the coastal estuaries that are covered in Lyngbye’s sedge so it is a nice treat to be up close watching them cruise the shore lines.  Our Northwest BC Grizzly Bear Discovery Tour June 6-10, 2017  will provide opportunities to see this exact type of bear behaviour.

Beach Combing Grizzly
Grizzly Crusing the Shore

 


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A Grand Welcome by the People of Segukla


As we made our way down the Skeena River through some of the rivers most notorious rapids like ‘the “Hornets Nest” and “Beaver Dam” we rounded a bend on the river and through one last set of rapids as the jet boat rolled it’s way through the last set prior to our visit with the local First Nations the Gitsegukla.  The name Gitsegukla means ‘People of Segukla’.  Segukla or ‘sharp-pointed’ being the name of a nearby mountain.  There are no shortage of Segukla’s in this part of the world.

Gitsegukla Welcome

As I backed off the throttle and glided out way to shore the first glimpse of the local community was evident.  A couple rows of children were there to greet us  as well as many  other community members dressed in their traditional regalia.  Our guests were not sure what to expect as was I before we arrived but we were all a little overwhelmed at the greeting.  We were directed where to put the boat into shore by one of the elders and as soon as the anchor was secured I began my exit of the boat but was quickly motioned to remain aboard ( Maybe the captain should be the last leave).  Elder Vern Milton greeted us and asked us to remain aboard until the “Welcome Prayer” and Songs were performed.  Vern’s prayer was followed up by the children singing and elders dancing.     Our guests were then allowed to depart the boat as we made our way through rows of children singing  one by one.

Gitsegukla Elder Vern Milton
Gitsegukla Community Welcome

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2017 Historic Fort George River Journey

Historic Fort George River Journey
A jet boat journey exploring trains, ferries, and sternwheelers

May 15 or June 17 2017
Prince George, BC

Historic Ft George Canyon

Journey with us as we explore the rivers of Fort George and its iconic historical features via jet boat!

On this one day tour, led by Jeff Elder from the Prince George Heritage Commission, we will travel by jet boat to explore some of the regions most inaccesible historic sites. The Nechako River and Fraser River will be our classroom for the day. Our small group of 5 participants will allow plenty of time for discussion and questions. We will go to shore throughout the day and explore at our leisure. Space is very limited so don’t delay!

Old Miworth Reaction Ferry Pontoon

Reaction Ferry
The tour will commence with a 30 minute jet boat ride up the Nechako River to the site of the Miworth Reaction Ferry. In Miworth two hulls of the ferry still remain, plus a wooden derrick tower. This ferry operated from 1922 to the mid 1940’s. Reaction ferries were common in the interior for crossing many of our many river systems. The ferries consist of two pontoon hulls and a cable across the river. The energy of the river current is used to angle the pontoons across the river.

Ring bolt in Fort George Canyon

Fort George Canyon
The last destination on our tour is Fort George Canyon where the sternwheelers of the early 1900’s attempted to navigate and winch themselves through the rock outcropped islands and fast flowing rapids and whirlpools of this narrowing in the Fraser River. We will learn and experience why it was so difficult to bring these boats through this extremely treacherous section of the river. Don’t miss this chance to experience the rich history of our local rivers!

Grand Trunk Pacific Bridge

Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Bridge
From the Miworth Reaction Ferry site, we will journey to the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Bridge. This iconic Prince George Feature is over 100 years old and at and is still the longest railway bridge in BC. While viewing the Bridge from below, Jeff will provide a historic perspective on the bridge. On this stretch of our journey a stop will also be made at Goat Island, where this island’s contribution to the building of the GTP Railway Bridge and the stories of Jim Johnson’s goat farm will be told.

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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