The Port Essington Hi-Lo inside scoop!

One of the highlights on our tour to Port Essington ( especially for the photographers) is the single boat lying in the grass. I was fortunate enough to make contact with one of the previous owners ( Sarah Brown) who provided me some history on the boat.

It is small crab boat called the Hi-Lo, that focused its efforts on the inner islands around the mouth of the Skeena River. It was originally from Oona River and later sold to someone who beached it as Port Essington. Sarah remembers fishing with her dad and sleeping on the engine box. ( very cool memories). Every year it seems to show its age a bit more.

The Port Essington  Hi Lo
The Port Essington Hi Lo
Boat Relic in the sedge grass
Boat Relic in the sedge grass

Comaham – A Skeena River Hero

On our Skeena River Historical Journey by Jet Boat Tour Aug 5-10, 2016 we will travel by Jet boat from Hazelton to Port Edward covering around 50 km a day while we try and visit as many historical sites from the past.  The sites will include guest speakers and sites rarely visited or accessible.  One of those sites we are hoping to visit is the site of the Chief Comaham gravestone.  The site is on private property and access must be respected but we have contacted the owners and it looks like there is a good chance to visit the site.

The story behind Chief Comaham according to Ruth Hallock was that he was paddling up the Skeena River on  a hot August 15th day in 1873. He had left Port Simpson on his way to the mouth of the Lakelse River with his family.  His young 4 year old daughter was standing in the canoe when they encountered a swell in the river and over board she went.  Comaham did not hesitate and jumped in the murky waters of the Skeena River after his daughter.  The churning waters were too much for Comaham as he and his daughter were never seen again.  A lengthy search for his body was not successful.  A Stonecutter from Port Simpson named George Rudge was commissioned to to a headstone for Chief Comaham.  This headstone still stands today in memoriam. Here is a photo below.

Chief Comaham Headstone
Chief Comaham Headstone

 

How the Ghost Town of Dorreen managed to keep its school open

The small and remote community of Dorreen lies about 50 km east of Terrace on the north side of the Skeena River (opposite of the hwy).  The town survived on mining and farming and some railway business. The first school was attached to the iconic General store that still stands today.  A second school was built for the 1932 school year.   The  teacher that year was Miss Mina Dean.  With the ups and downs of the resource sector it was always a challenge to keep the minimum number of students in the school. The school did close down in 1937 for a year.  The mine closed in 1953 and with that came an exodus of mine workers and their families.  Elaine Gregg was the teacher at that time and she came up with some creative enrollment numbers with underage students as young as 3 and overage students as well making up the minimum of 13 students.  There were even rumors of a few pets being enrolled. Here is a photo of the one room school. During our Ghost Towns of Northwest BC tour we are fortunate enough to have a  guided tour of the town by one of the part time residents

Dorreen School
Dorreen School

The Chief Legaik Rock Paintings

I have driven by these paintings many times during our UNBC Educational Tours but never knew exactly where they were. On this past trip with the foliage gone the paintings stuck out I decided to take a closer look. The portrait is believed to be that of the Tsimshian Chief, Legaik. The left side of the painting records a feast given by the chief in which 9 containers were given away.

The painting was done by an artist named Lequate in the 1830’s.

How did he manage to paint this on this massive rock face?

It is believed he was suspended in a cedar basket from a rope from above the rock face while he painted the rock.

Here are a few photos

Chief Legaik Petroglyphs
Chief Legaik Petroglyphs
Chief Legaik Pictograph Close up
Chief Legaik Pictograph Close up

Where was Skeena City?

Located at the mouth of the Khyex River was a small community known as “Skeena City” .  This 1910 community was short lived but it did have a cannery, sawmill and a brick factory. The island of trees on the shores of the river include many remnants of these past activities.  Old pilings, tunnels, bricks and metal piping still scatter the area. We will make a stop here on a couple of our educational tours.

Skeena City Brick Factory
Skeena City Brick Factory
Skeena City Pilings in the water
Skeena City Pilings in the water
Skeena City Tunnel
Skeena City Tunnel
Pilings and Beam at Skeena City
Pilings and Beam at Skeena City

Canneries of the NorthCoast – Cassiar Cannery

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.

Cassiar Cannery Guest Houses

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.
 
http://www.cassiarcannery.com

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.

https://youtu.be/iT3xDJ5LZ9Q

Meanskinisht Cemetery & Cedarvale

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.

Meanskinisht Cemetery
Second Meanskinisht Church destroyed by by in 1950’s (Tomlinson Collection – Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine)
Gravesite of Alice and Robert Tomlinson in the Meanskinisht Cemetery
Gravesite of Alice and Robert Tomlinson in the Meanskinisht Cemetery

Woodcock Airstrip

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.

Woodcock airstrip
Woodcock Airstrip from the ground
Woodcock Airstrip