Car, plane, plane, car, ferry, car, ferry, car, ferry, car, ferry, car, bus, ferry, plane, plane, plane, car. Well that pretty well sums up my big adventure. But I really want to tell you more than that!
I travelled to British Columbia on Canada’s west coast last month for a Board meeting in Vancouver. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of visiting my family all along the coast. I took the ferry across to Vancouver Island where my sister Betty picked me up. We drove down to Victoria to see her son and granddaughter then travelled back the next day to Courtenay, stopping at Cowichan Bay. This little town along the water was full of thing to see, like the marine museum, houseboats, and shops. It was a lovely, scenic drive.
While Betty worked for the next couple of days, I had the chance to visit with her partner Robbie, my sister-in-law Wanda and her son Brian and family, as well as my cousin Jacklyn and her baby Melody and of course my niece Brodie. The time flew by and before I knew it, Betty, Robbie and I were on the ferry to the sunshine coast on the mainland to visit my son Robin and his wife Nici at their new home. My other son and d-i-l were already there waiting for us to come. We had a great time touring Rob’s new homestead and meeting his new family members, Apple and Peanut (sibling goats) and the ‘girls’ who laid their first egg while I was there.
We walked down to the oceanside beach across from his house and drove up to the end of the Sunshine Coast highway to Lund, mile 0 of hwy. 101. Time was too short because before I knew it, we were leaving for the next leg of my adventure.
My son, D-I-L, and I were driving back to Vancouver then all the way north to Prince Rupert, BC – a three day trip. After we left Rob and Nici’s farm, we took our first ferry through mostly uninhabited waters of BC coastline, then drove along windy roads through beautiful rainforests with giant trees and coast mountains. It was breathtaking! We stopped in Gibsons (I’ve always wanted to go there: “Beachcombers”?) and bought lunch to eat on the ferry to Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver. My D-I-L’s sister was kind enough to host us for the night – it was lovely meeting her and her family.
Bright and early the next morning, we left for the north. It was amazing to me that the BC mountains could have such a diverse landscape: there were mountains; canyons; foothill-like sage brush areas; large valleys of grazing land; glacier-topped mountains; rainforests; just about everything! We drove through the Fraser Canyon along the Cariboo Highway 97’s Gold Rush Trail and stopped at Hell’s Gate canyon for a look. Then we stopped in Spences Bridge at an old church along the way to take photos – we kept noticing these churches with the same design all along the route which were built by missionaries in the late 1800s.
A simple road sign took us out of our way for 5 minutes to an amazing, little known ‘Grand Canyon’ of Canada called The Chasm which was created when a melting Ice Age stream cascaded over a falls and cut into some of the lava flows about 10,000 years ago. Amazing eh!
By the time we got halfway to Prince George, it was snowing! We stopped overnight in Prince George, BC after 11 hours driving. Then we headed northwest on the Yellowhead Highway 16, named the Highway of Tears for all the missing women who have vanished along this stretch over the last few decades. We were 771 kms. from our destination near Prince Rupert along the Pacific Ocean. We passed through Vanderhoof which had pastures in the valleys stretching to the mountains seemingly far away. After a pit-stop in Houston (no we didn’t ‘have a problem’) we began to re-enter the Coast Mountains again. Moricetown has this incredible canyon and fast moving river which wild salmon moved through up ‘salmon ladders’ so we HAD to stop there for photos.
We stopped at Old Town Hazelton along the Skeena River for a look-about. This town, as well as the new Hazelton, is home to 3 native communities and then non-natives after 1866 including gold miners and the Hudson’s Bay Company. When we drove up to the old town and came around the corner, I couldn’t believe my eyes: there, in perfect condition, was this old town similar to Dawson City of the gold rush days! There was even a dry-docked paddleboat which was turned into a restaurant and many other original historic buildings. My grown kids are keenly interested in this area of Canada and will likely explore it further in the coming months.
As the sun was setting, we arrived at their cabin in Port Edward along the Pacific Coast. It was great to get there and help them unload the groceries and boxes of squash purchased along the way.
During my few days there, we went into Prince Rupert and visited the Museum of Northern British Columbia – it was full of native artifacts and treasures and told the story of BC native communities and their interaction with non-native arrivals. It was very well done and we enjoyed it immensely on that pouring rain day (which is pretty typical for Prince Rupert). We bought some fresh caught cod fish, mussels, and salmon for a seafood feast.
We were lucky to be shown the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site on the last day of the season. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was blown away! There was SO much to this little out-of-the-way place. It speaks of how this company used Japanese, Chinese, and native Canadians to do the work and build the cannery businesses along the coast. And how these groups were segregated from the ‘white’ population in terms of housing, income, status, etc. It was fascinating!
There was a huge building which housed the salmon canning floors; wharves for the fishing boats; the two remaining ‘Chinese housing’ buildings on the far side (which were about 24 x 24 feet and housed 12+ people in each family); administration houses; the General Store (where the workers bought on credit, then actually owed the Company at the end of a hard working year); Mess House; Japanese Bunk House (6+ to a room); etc. Amazing!
Sadly, my adventure came to an end and it was time to come home. Prince Rupert offers a shuttle bus service to the airport which is located on Digby Island via ferry (a.k.a A barge that fits only the two shuttle buses). I only had about an hour’s wait when I arrived in Vancouver then another hour during a stop-over in Winnipeg. Finally, I arrived home late at night to find my son Darin waiting for me at the airport.
I’m grateful that I was able to go on such a big adventure and see my west coast family. Now I’m home living my simple little life in my own simple little way.
*some photos by my son.