Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast

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StOrieS of the

cariboo chilcotin coast


Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Contents Landscapes of Inspiration 6

Tranquility Zone 12

The Rugged Chilcotin 16

The Road Less Travelled 24

Happy Trails 32

Map 36

Special Places: The Cariboo Mountains 38

Cowboy Culture 42

Salmon Tales 48

Discovering Our Secret Season 54

Land of the Spirit Bear 60

Travel Information 66

Directory 68

Spruce Lake in the South Chilcotin Mountains Tyler Cave For local travel information, contact Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association: 1-800-663-5885 |

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©2020 – Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (the “Region”). All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. This Guide does not constitute, and should not be construed as, an endorsement or recommendation of any carrier, hotel, restaurant or any other facility, attraction or activity in British Columbia, for which neither Destination BC Corp. nor the Region assumes any responsibility. Super, Natural British Columbia, Hello BC, Visitor Centre and all associated logos/trade-marks are trade-marks or Official Marks of Destination BC Corp. Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association and all associated trade-marks and logos are trade-marks or official marks of the Region. Admission fees and other terms and conditions may apply to attractions and facilities referenced in this Guide. Errors and omissions excepted. Photography: All images in this guide are intended to provide informative historical context and fair representation of activities which are available in this region.

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Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |



Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

From the Editorial Team We are proud to share with you the Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. We hope that this selection of stories gives you a real sense of not only the dramatic scale and diversity of our region, but the genuine welcoming nature of those that live here. After all, that is our goal: sharing our home with you. “Landscapes of Inspiration” paints a beautiful picture of how artists through the ages have found so much inspiration in the natural wonders of the region. In “Tranquility Zone”, we are reminded of the incredible hush and quiet of winter in the region, and how easy it is to get out and enjoy a motor-free day to go the distance or go nowhere at all. In “The Rugged Chilcotin” we learn that people who live in the Chilcotin seem to belong to another time; where life is calmer and more focused on the land, wildlife and the human connection. Who doesn’t love a great road trip? “Road Tripping the Road Less Travelled” guides the reader along an epic tour, an exploration of the changing terrains, climates, adventures and people of this massive land. Outdoor enthusiasts will have no trouble finding their happy place in our story, “Happy Trails”, about the unlimited mountain biking and hiking trails of the region. “Special Places: The Cariboo Mountains” introduces you to a part of the Cariboo that, while sparsely populated, is rich in lush old-growth forest, thundering waterfalls, natural wonders and wildlife. "Cowboy Culture" showcases the history of ranching and cattle herding that is still very much alive and influencing the culture here today as much as ever. In “Salmon Tales” we discover how integral the salmon are to the entire ecosystem and learn about the best places to catch the next ‘big one’ or watch a grizzly catching their next dinner. We then reveal one of our best kept secrets in “Discovering Our Secret Season”. Every season has its perks, but autumn is a truly transformative time here, with the added benefit of being uncrowded. Our final story, “Land of the Spirit Bear” introduces us to the elusive Kermode bear—also known as the Spirit Bear—and its home in the lush, pristine Great Bear Rainforest on the central coast. So, pour yourself a cup of something hot, sit in your comfy chair and prepare to be inspired. Explore our stories, and then come experience them for yourself. Backroad in the North Cariboo Tyler Cave Cover Photo: Near Bella Coola Photo Credit: Tyler Cave Editorial Contributors: Jonny Bierman, Crai Bower, James Douglas, Jo Johnston, Amy Watkins, Jane Zatylny , Sydney Redpath-Power, Mary Elliott Design & Layout: Jill Schick Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |



Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Landscapes of Inspiration Story Contributor: Jane Zatylny

Have you ever been struck by a powerful sense of emotion when you reach the viewpoint of an unfamiliar trail? Art philosopher Denis Dutton believed that when a transformative scene causes us to stop in our tracks, we may actually be experiencing the emotions of our ancestors. We are “transfixed by the intense sense of longing and beauty, determined to explore that valley, to see where the road leads,” he wrote in his book, The Art Instinct. The Indigenous people who have occupied these lands for millennia express their connection to their ancestors in their art and cultural traditions, which they share with visitors to the region. In the Thorsen Creek Valley near Bella Coola, you can pause and watch the smoky mist rise high above stretches of tumbling whitewater, then hike through a dense forest with a Nuxalk (nu-halk) guide to mysterious petroglyphs. The spiritual beliefs of Indigenous artists who carved depictions of the universal mystery and power of nature into the stone have been preserved by the shelter of the area’s nature for thousands of years. Nuxalk carvers continue to use materials from the forest floor like red cedar and bark to create traditional masks, paddles and plaques. You can view these artworks, which have great ceremonial and cultural significance, at various art galleries and shops throughout the valley. Contemporary artists have also been deeply affected by the contours and contrasts of this region, from its rugged coastal mountains and volcanic fields to its softer ranches and grasslands. In 1904, friends of the legendary artist Emily Carr invited her to visit their ranch at 150 Mile House, instructing

Rainbow Range in the Chilcotin Tyler Cave Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


her to “Make it a long visit. Leave the C.P.R. train at Ashcroft,” they wrote. “You will then travel by horse-coach… up the Cariboo Road, a pretty bumpy road, too.” Reflecting on her month-long visit, Carr wrote in her autobiography, Growing Pains, “I can never love the Cariboo enough for all she gave to me.” Carr, who is widely acknowledged as an unofficial member of Canada’s Group of Seven artists, toured the region by “cow pony,” memorializing what she saw with her modernist interpretations of the natural world. In works like “The Church at Lillooet,” a watercolour of an imposing mountain dwarfing a simple house of worship in the small Fraser River community, the landscape looms large. You can’t help but acknowledge its omnipotence as it bears down on the humble church. The Group of Seven’s A.Y. Jackson was said to be equally captivated by the Cariboo when he toured the area in 1914. He returned in the 1940s to produce works that are now displayed in galleries around the world. Today, artists find themselves in good company at arts, music and cultural festivals throughout the region. (See Experiences on page 10 for further information about a few such events.) Some 475 kms (295 mi) away from the Cariboo, the central coast also has a powerful magnetic force for artists. Mark Hobson painted the biologically diverse Calvert Island to raise awareness about preserving the coastline for future generations. He and more than 50 of Canada’s 8

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

most celebrated artists published a book entitled Canada’s Raincoast at Risk: Art for an Oil-Free Coast. Filmmaker, photographer and environmentalist Ian McAllister is also focused on conservation in this part of the region. He shares remarkable scenes from the world’s last intact rainforest in a powerful IMAX film called Great Bear Rainforest and in a book of the same name. Honoured by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper as one of 133 highly accomplished Canadians, Ian and his wife, Karen McAllister were also named “Leaders of the 21st Century” for their tireless efforts to preserve the Great Bear Rainforest. Longtime Cariboo resident Chris Harris is a passionate environmentalist, too. The prolific photographer and outdoor explorer has been capturing the beauty of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region for more than 30 years. Through his lens, we see the world differently. Harris takes us to places that are intensely inspiring, like the technicoloured Rainbow Range in the West Chilcotin’s Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. With Harris, we can also visit seemingly inaccessible places, like the high country of the Chilcotin Plateau. For Motherstone: British Columbia’s Volcanic Plateau, one of Harris’ 13 books, the photographer hiked through a sparse landscape few have experienced. “I’ve ridden through these mountain ranges before,” he says, “but this time I walked through every inch of it. When you walk, you feel like you’re

Traditional Indigenous Regalia Jonny Bierman

touching the earth. You feel the energy coming up through the earth.” That unmistakable feeling of connection to something larger than ourselves defines this region, whether we’re retracing the steps of others or blazing our own trails. As philosopher Denis Dutton said, “We are what we are today because our primordial ancestors followed paths and riverbanks over the horizon.” ¤

Enjoy & Remember Great Times with us

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EXPERIENCES Bella Coola Music Festival Enjoy intimate performances by awardwinning artists from across Canada at this family-oriented event offering a wide range of music from roots, rock and world to blues, folk and more. Website: Arts on the Fly Festival, Horsefly Catch top performers in jazz, indie, folk, rock and other musical genres, plus many of the area’s talented artisans. Website: BC Metis Music Jamboree, McLeese Lake Groove to an old-fashioned bluegrassstyle festival featuring country music, Metis fiddling and non-stop dancing. Facebook: Cariboo Chilcotin Metis Association South Cariboo Garlic Festival, Lac La Hache Watch Garlina and other mascots strut alongside food vendors, musicians, and cheer on your favourite culinary master at the annual battle for the title of Master Garlic Chef. Website: ‘Q’emcin (click-kum-cheen) Festival, Lytton A 3-day feast of contemporary Indigenous music and culture. Website:


Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


Tranquility Zone Story Contributor: Jane Zatylny

An unknown winter lover once wrote, “To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” The same holds true for winter sports like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice fishing. To experience these non-motorized activities, you must step away from the warmth of the fire. Outdoors, though, you are also away from passive indoor activities, like Netflix and social media, daily routines, errands and chores. “The tranquility of being out in the wilderness allows people to get away from their day-to-day lives,” says Walter Bramsleven, General Manager of Mount Timothy Ski & Recreation Resort in the south Cariboo. “They can forget themselves in the forest.” Coated with the light, fluffy snow of our colder climes, the terrain in the region varies from wide-open meadows and rolling hills to coniferous forests, where heavy snow weighs down the boughs of towering spruce and pine trees. Take on trails near 108 Mile Ranch, an area known for some of the best track-set cross-country skiing in the Cariboo, with around 150 km (93 mi) of community trail network. Travel south to 99 Mile House for a 45 km (28 mi) network of ski and snowshoe trails, or to the southeast between Big Bar and Clinton where 26 km (16 mi) of cross-country ski trails overlook outstanding views of the Marble Range and 51 Creek Canyon. Bull Mountain XC Ski and Snowshoe Area, 16 km (10 mi) north of Williams Lake, offers 28 km (17 mi) of well-groomed trails; trail networks here and at the 100 Mile House Nordic Club 45-km (28-mi) ski trails offer lit sections for night-

Bowron River Thomas Drasdauskis 12

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


time skiing or snowshoeing. Check into one of the region’s year-round guest ranches and lodges with their own backyard trail systems. From Williams Lake, drive 310 km (192 mi) west on Hwy 97 to Tatla Lake for a 17-km (10mi) trail network. For more extreme backcountry crosscountry ski touring and winter camping, choose a park like Itcha Ilgachuz Provincial Park, in the West Chilcotin Uplands, or Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park, 400 km (248 mi) west of Williams Lake. After a day or two plying the trails, you’ll learn that there’s more to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the region than mere physical exertion. Pause and take in the natural beauty of the landscape: you may be lucky enough to sight wildlife such as lynx, moose, deer, rabbits and foxes on or near the trails. If trail blazing isn’t your thing, you might want to try another non-motorized activity: ice fishing. In contrast to summer fishing, you don’t need a boat or elaborate gear to ice fish. Anyone, at any age, can drop a line into one of the region’s many lakes. Ice fishers use an auger to pierce the ice, turning its blades round and round like a spinning figure skater until they create a hole to the underwater world. Then they wait for a Kokanee, rainbow trout or other prize fish to tug on their lines. Ice climbers seek out the frozen Crown Lake Falls, aka “Icy BC”, at Marble Canyon Provincial Park. Ice climbing adventures are also common west of Lillooet along the D’Arcy-Anderson Lake Road, which stretches 33 km (21 mi) along the west side of Anderson Lake from Seton Portage. All this to say, there's no need to put away the cleats when winter comes. Whether you slide along the terrain on cross-country skis, punch through deep powder on your snowshoes, or drop a line into a frozen lake, you’ll be sure to gain an appreciation for winter in the region, and for “standing out in the cold.”


GOOD TO KNOW: The season for ice fishing is at its best from December through March, when lake ice typically meets or exceeds the 10-cm (4-in) minimum for foot travel. Basic ice fishing gear includes an auger, ice fishing rod, hooks and a folding camp chair, plus safety equipment like rope or life jackets. Website: Near Wells Thomas Drasdauskis 14

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

At Spring Lake Michael Bednar

on Sheridan Lake, Hwy 24 Cabins and RV sites on the lake Boat / Canoe Rentals • Playground

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Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

The Rugged Chilcotin Story Contributor: Jo Johnson

The Chilcotin is an area of golden plateaus and dramatic mountains that stretches west from the Fraser River all the way to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Its pristine and varied wilderness — dotted with sporadic communities and very little industry — as well as its diverse and abundant wildlife make it ideal for both backcountry adventurers and folks who crave the quiet and peaceful spaces. The culture of the Chilcotin is also, undeniably, cowboy, so it’s no surprise that my three-year stint of living there as a young woman started with a very unusual introduction to an Indigenous cowboy named Roy. Early one morning in 1994, I sat on the fence overlooking the horse paddock of a comfy lakeside resort at the edge of the South Chilcotin Mountains, where I would begin working the following morning. Soaking in the sun, the fresh air, and the blissful peace and quiet (something I had forgotten existed in the past few years of living in the city), my eyes eagerly took it all in. I looked down, past the paddock to the lake (where the Beaver floatplane I’d flown in on my way to the resort the day before was docked), and then up past the forest behind me to the mountains. The densely mixed fir and pine, broken only by trails blazed by generations of riders, bush ponies and backcountry enthusiasts, was more than enough to strike wonder and curiosity in my citygirl senses. As my eyes continued to sweep high up the mountain, I saw something strange that I couldn’t wrap my head around, a bright red speck moving through the trees. It was only there for a moment but when I blinked, it disappeared into the sun and I found myself wondering if I’d imagined it.

Near Tatlayoko Lake Kari Medig Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


Turner Lakes and Hunlen Falls in Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park Kari Medig

Two days later, my second working at the resort, I was frazzled, exhausted, and lamenting my foolish confidence at agreeing to take a wrangling job with zero horse experience. As I was pulling the saddle off a beautiful, but very temperamental Palomino named Bailey, who seemed to truly relish her efforts to step on my feet, I looked up to see a man riding out of the forest on a big black beauty.

wilderness—with only a small amount of supplies, his faithful equine companions, Goofy and Joe, and one amazing sense of direction. He didn’t follow a map although he’d never travelled over the mountains this far before, but he’d needed a change of pace and decided to ride over and look for work at one of the local ranches. I was flabbergasted. I hadn’t known people like him still existed anymore.

I stood there, staring at the red bandana tied around his neck, as he stopped in front of me, dismounted and stretched.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that the people who live in the Chilcotin all seem to belong in a different time—a simpler time. Life there is calmer, more focused on the land, the wildlife, and human connection, rather than the hustle and bustle of life, deadlines and devices. I am completely convinced that the Chilcotin way of life has everything to do with its set up of small communities, sporadically connected by vast, virtually uncharted landscapes and big skies. Being separated by large distances allows people to slow down and focus on each other and their surroundings.

“It was YOU!” I said, incredulously. “What was me?” he asked, grinning. I told him how I had seen a speck of red flash through the trees high up the mountain two days prior to his arrival and thought I’d imagined it. He pushed his hat up, turned to look up the mountain, shrugged nonchalantly and admitted, “Yah. That was me. I rode here from Gang Ranch.” When I asked him how long it had taken him, he’d shrugged again and said, “I dunno. Week maybe.” He rode his horses over the South Chilcotin Mountains— an arduous, treacherous, long trek through the untamed 18

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

However, it’s not as remote as it may seem because the communities of the Chilcotin are surprisingly well connected by the easily accessible Freedom Road (aka Highway 20)— the highway that first opened up the central coast. Sometimes referred to as the Chilcotin Highway, Highway 20 stretches from Williams Lake, through the heart of the Chilcotin, all the way to Bella Coola. Aptly named, the Freedom Highway

Nimpo Lake Tyler Cave

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Open May - Late September Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm Light Lunches, Fresh Baked Treats to devour inside or boxed to go Built in 1940 as a Hunting & Fishing Lodge, the 10 room Lodge is one of the last remaining authentic frontier Lodges in B.C. With its homey atmosphere and western hotel style, you’ll think you’ve stepped back in time. Come and stay with our family for a true Canadian Experience! Get away for a weekend, a night, or a Special Occasion (Reservations a must) Anniversary, Birthday, Dinners or Lunches Family reunions, craft retreats, car/bike/snowmobile & walking clubs Bed & Bale (bring your horse) Hallmark Special Occasions

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Owners Kurt & Brenda Van Ember (since April, 2017) Check out our website: email/call direct for information: 250-659-5646 20

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chilcotin lodge

Big horn sheep on the Chilcotin plateau Michael Bednar

opened a vital corridor. When the government of British Columbia ended the construction of Highway 20 at Anahim Lake (a community approximately 43 km (27 mi) away and 1,800 m (5,905 ft) above the Bella Coola valley), a group of local volunteers banded together to finish the job and connect the central coast to the Chilcotin. All it took was a bulldozer at the top and a bulldozer at the bottom to connect the two existing roads.

from the birds-eye view of a flightseeing tour, world-class heli-skiing in the South Chilcotin range, and the longest continuous stretch of class 3+ whitewater in North America on the Chilko River all provide a kick-start to the heart. Fishing enthusiasts can also charter a floatplane to remote sweet spots, such as the incomparable Spruce and Turner Lakes or to the world-renowned Dean River, where record Steelhead are commonplace.

Wildlife abounds along Highway 20, making it natural to catch glimpses of animals appearing along the road. On the Chilcotin plateau, range cattle graze alongside deer, moose, caribou, and even bears under the ever-watchful and steadfast gaze of Mount Waddington—the highest peak in the Coastal Mountains. This area also plays host to Canada’s largest population of non-migratory California bighorn sheep and is home for hundreds of wild horses. It’s common to spot lynx, wolves, trumpeter swans and other bird species. The only nesting colony of endangered white pelicans in BC can be found along Highway 20. Although their nesting grounds are off limits due to the sensitivity of their young, the adults can still be viewed during feeding time at Nazko Lake Park, near Alexis Creek as a truly spectacular sight to behold.

Whether you are there for the peace and tranquillity, the wildlife, or the views, the Chilcotin is guaranteed to strike awe and wonder, even as it lowers your heart rate and calms your mind. ¤

INFO: The Chilcotin is divided by the South Chilcotin Mountains, with the north accessible via Highway 20 and the South Chilcotin requiring a journey down Highway 97 with access through Lillooet.

The Freedom Road is also an endless route to outdoor recreation and adventure. The Homathko Icefield and Hunlen Falls are installations of nature best witnessed Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |



Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

EXPERIENCES: Motorcycle Touring: There’s no better way to enjoy the twists and turns and take in the dramatic scenery of Highway 20 than on two wheels. The sights and scents of the road, the exhilarating feel of the wind and the clarity of the sky are so much more immediate as you motor through the countryside. A bonus: the roads here are quiet, with few RVs or trucks to slow you down. In fact, in many places you are more likely to see wildlife – bears, deer, bighorn sheep, wild horses and caribou – than vehicles. Adventure bike enthusiasts delight in the extensive network of backcountry gravel roads. Once such ride, the “Hurley River Road” that connects Gold Bridge in the Bridge River Valley to Pemberton, open seasonally (June to October). Complete this circle tour along the gravel surfaced Carpenter Lake/Pioneer Road 40 to Lillooet.

Facing Page: Wilderness Lake in the Chilcotin Kari Medig

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David Hemmings Photo Tours 604.629.9577 Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


the Road Less Travelled Story Contributor: Jo Johnson

It has been said that every journey taken is, in fact, two: an outer and an inner journey. Nowhere is this more true than in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, where the further we travel across the region, the more we travel into ourselves. Here it is easy to take the road less travelled, and to venture on a journey of true discovery — of the region’s dramatic and powerful nature, and of its impact on us. Retrace the route of prospectors during the famed gold rush of the 1860s; fish hundreds of lakes; roll through cowboy country, panoramic peaks and backcountry vistas in the same day; visit Indigenous heritage sites where there are opportunities to have immersive experiences with Indigenous culture; and then arrive at the shores of the Pacific to look for whales swimming in the inlets while bears and wolves fish for salmon in the rivers nearby. The topography of British Columbia was in part built on gold, a history shaped by nature — in the form of massive placer deposits discovered along the Fraser River and through the Cariboo. Once word of the discovery caught on in the 1860s, droves of prospectors from all over the world flooded into the province with dreams of striking it rich and finding their fortunes. Hordes of men Barkerville Historic Town & Park Tyler Cave 24

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


and women gathered provisions for the harrowing threeweek journey inland and then set out along the gold route, following the Fraser River. With the help of many Indigenous guides, who showed them the way using their ancient trade routes, a massive influx of people not only sought gold but also settled in and built communities along the way, falling in love with the raw nature and abundant wildlife all around. Today, many towns along the Gold Rush Trail pay homage to their storied past with museums, monuments and other experiences that help to bring the gold rush era alive. In fact, the small town of Lytton has two: the Chinese History Museum, with the largest collection of historic Chinese artifacts in Canada, and the Lytton Museum & Archives where you can learn about the area’s gold rush history. Many of these towns that sprung up to provide a resting stop and supplies, now offer the modern traveller the same respite today. As you head out of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast and into northern BC, your last stop for gas and road trip grub is in Hixon, where you can catch some shut-eye and grab a meal. But take note, some local roadside eateries are only open during the summer months. Nothing is quite as thrilling as discovering the perfect fishing spot to reel in dinner. In the Land of Hidden Waters, there are hundreds of lakes and streams to sample, many of which

are off the beaten path and far from the crowds, yet easily accessible to the road warrior. This area of the region includes a strip of road called the “Fishing Highway 24”, so named for its endless options for dropping a line at one of over 100 lakes along the highway. As you drive the highway you will spot Lone Butte, a low, steep-sided mesa butte that was formed within a prehistoric volcano over six million years ago. Near the butte’s north side is the small community by the same name. Also in the neighbourhood is Green Lake Provincial Park, with its crystal-clear, wide and shallow lake perfect for summer and winter recreation. With lakeside camping and plenty of nearby accommodation, it’s a popular destination for families and nature-seekers alike. Two gems on this road less travelled, Canim Lake and Mahood Lake, offer three majestic waterfalls: Canim, Mahood and Deception Falls. The Canim-Mahood trail is a 1-km (0.62 -mi) groomed trail that leads first to the 15-m (49-ft) Mahood Falls, and a short couple hundred meters away to the lookout of the 20-m (66-ft) Canim Falls. The 0.8-km (0.5-mi) trail to Deception Falls is accessible via the provincial park campground on Mahood Lake, where you can view the 50-m (164-ft) waterfall from an overlooking

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Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Bowron Lake Provincial Park Robin O'Neill

In Your Own Backyard or Abroad We are the one stop for all your travel needs! Offering small group tours in the Cariboo

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Crooked Lake near Horsefly Michael Bednar

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Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


John Wellburn


bluff. To get to Canim and Mahood Lakes, head northeast of 100 Mile House, on Highway 97. Approximately 3 km (2 mi) north is the turnoff that heads east on Canim-Hendrix Lake Rd (paved) a further 34 km (21 mi) to Canim Lake and on to Mahood Lake.

from the plateau’s elevation of over 1,500 m (5,000 ft) to sea level. This is the lush and otherworldly Great Bear Rainforest, with over 15,000 km (9,320 mi) of pristine shoreline, ecological preserves and conservancies, and no fewer than six marine parks.

The wanderer will be drawn to the rugged Chilcotin, along Highway 20. The highway cuts a lonely line through big-sky country, from Williams Lake across the Chilcotin Plateau all the way to Bella Coola on the central coast. Dotted with small communities, old-fashioned general stores and panoramic vistas, Highway 20 stretches 456 km (283 mi) without a single traffic light.

This is where you may need to leave the road and travel by boat, to truly experience the Great Bear Rainforest. The Fjordland Conservancy, a provincial marine park set deep in the inner channels near Klemtu, is wonderfully remote. Dotted with pristine beaches, including exceptionally picturesque stretches near Lady Douglas Island, the conservancy encompasses Kynoch and Mussel inlets (two glacier-gouged fjords where sheer granite cliffs rise more than 1,000 m (3,280 ft)) and Higgins Passage. The passage is an intricate waterway with Indigenous sites amidst a mazelike multitude of small islands, sinuous passageways and cascading waterfalls.

Many communities along Highway 20 were initially supply centres (a common theme of the entire Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region), including Nimpo Lake, Anahim Lake, Tatla Lake and Alexis Creek. Nimpo and Anahim Lakes in the West Chilcotin are filled with rainbow trout and offer flightseeing tours to stunning Hunlen Falls, the Monarch Icefields and the Rainbow Mountains. The Puntzi Lake area offers great camping and fishing for kokanee. As the highway descends into the Bella Coola Valley, it offers exhilarating hairpin turns and steep grades as it drops

The myriad of inlets, tiny coves and narrow passageways around Bella Coola offer unforgettable sea kayaking and wildlife viewing. To the south, just 10 km (6 mi) west of Namu, Hakai Luxvbalis (looks-bal-ease) Conservation Area offers some of the finest kayaking on the coast. Its twisting passages, island clusters and white sandy beaches are

Unique. Eclectic. Diverse. Welcome to one of the most colourful, diverse and eclectic regions in Canada! The character of our area is largely shaped by the unique businesses and entrepreneurs that are at the heart of our vibrant communities. Enjoy a true northern experience by discovering some of the locally owned, independent businesses that are here.




perfect for strolling, foraging, relaxing and camping. To the southwest, luxury lodges offer a base for fishing some of the largest chinook salmon in the world, along Rivers Inlet and Knight Inlet. The Central BC coastline journey is completed on BC Ferries’ new Northern Sea Wolf from Bella Coola to Port Hardy, on the northern end of Vancouver Island. The BC Ferries Inside Passage routes also offer connections between Bella Bella, Klemtu, Shearwater, Ocean Falls and Prince Rupert. Even from the ferry, there are many chances to see whales blowing up spray or sea lions sunning themselves on the small islets and rocky shorelines. ¤

INFO: For the explorer wanting to retrace history, there’s no better route to take than the Gold Rush Trail. This historic route follows the path of gold seekers looking to find their fortune along the mighty Fraser River from New Westminster, near Vancouver, through the valley and up through the Fraser Canyon. Roads and communities were built to ease the way for prospectors, and many of these communities still thrive today. Places like 70 Mile House, 100 Mile and 108 Mile eventually became communities of settlers who took up ranching and agriculture long after the rush had ended. To catch some of the explorer spirit, take the backroad northeast from Likely to Barkerville to seek the uncrowded nature the original prospectors experienced. Before hitting the backroad, pause to enjoy the outdoor adventures and history of the Cariboo Mountains area: numerous natural wonders, the largest man-made bullion pit in North America or stop at the nearby ghost town of Quesnelle Forks to explore a historic graveyard and remains of Canada’s oldest Chinese Tong house. To discover more about the history of the Gold Rush Trail, learn about the communities along the way, and obtain a guide and map, visit:

Heaven on Earth. Closer than you think. Only 2.5 hours from Kamloops, 5 hours from Vancouver • • 1.800.253.8831 30

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Tallheo Cannery near Bella Coola Dennis Ducklow

Tallheo Cannery Guest House your exclusive oceanfront destination

Come explore the rich history of one of the last remaining salmon canneries Oceanfront Accommodation ~ Scenic Inlet Tours ~ Wildlife Viewing 1-604-992-1424

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Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


Happy Trails Story Contributors: Jane Zatylny & Mary Elliott

The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast beckons outdoor enthusiasts of all persuasions, from riders and ramblers to hikers and birders. Many members of the global mountain biking community, for instance, consider this region the unofficial mountain biking capital of Canada, with unlimited riding for both leisure bikers and adventure-seeking free riders. Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush or a calming escape, the terrain and quality trail systems offer distinct experiences in river valleys, mountain peaks, steep downhill, ramps and single-track ridges. With such a vast variety of rides to choose from, it’s possible to spend an entire year here without setting a wheel in the same place twice. Roll into Williams Lake, and you’ll understand why. Bike magazine named Williams Lake North America’s “Shangri-La of mountain biking.” With more than 200 documented tracks and trails around the city, riders have an astounding choice of technical loops. Aflo, with its awesome, flowy, banked turns, is one of the most popular trails here. The city’s downtown Boitanio Bike Park is the largest park of its kind in BC’s Interior, it covers more than four ha (10 ac), and includes six major jump lines, flow trails, log work, a pump track and a drop zone. The 100 Mile House area also offers hundreds of kilometres of marked and unmarked backcountry trails crisscrossing the plateau, with trails accessible around 108 Mile Ranch and downtown. On the 99 Mile trail network, riders need not stray from the trails (also not recommended!) for amazing rides. This area challenges riders of all skill levels and age groups. 32

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Niut Mountain Range in the Chilcotin Kari Medig

In the South Chilcotin, Spruce Lake offers epic grassland riding through alpine and sub-alpine meadows, skirting spectacular freshwater lakes. The classic 26-km (16-mi) single-track Gun Creek route gains elevation through a conifer forest mixed with aspen and cottonwood, opening to wildflower meadows in the late summer. Also popular are the South Tyaughton Lake’s 28-km (1- mi) Taylor-Pearson loop and the 44-km (27-mi) High Trail Loop into Windy Pass. Adventurous backcountry mountainbikers can also opt for multi-day float plane or packhorse-assisted guided tours, complete with gourmet catering and backcountry accommodations. In the Great Bear Rainforest, along the central coast, you can take a leisurely ride through lush rainforest on the Snooka Trail System. Awesome alpine views reward those who reach the network’s Purgatory Lookout. A series of trails between Bella Coola and Hagensborg offer various levels of difficulty. The East Loop Trail is an easy-grade circle route of 5.5 km (3 mi), with only a 50-m (164-ft) elevation gain; the West Trail is more challenging, with an elevation gain of 500 m (1640 ft) over this 3.8-km (2.4-mi) one-way trek. This system of trails also links to other wilderness routes that lead deeper into the Bella Coola Valley backcountry. Our region also delights hikers and ramblers. Lillooet is home base for scenic hiking trails with historic connections to the gold rush era, while trails from 108 Mile Ranch meander past bays and lagoons filled with waterfowl. Rock collectors can scramble Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


Spruce Lake in the South Chilcotin Mountains Jonny Beirman

around the Marble Range near Clinton, an area noted for limestone karsts, wooded groves and alpine ridges. No fewer than 18 wheelchair-accessible trails form the Cariboo’s Low Mobility Trail Network. The Stanley Cemetery Low Mobility trail provides access to the historic graveyard, the final resting spot of many pioneers and Chinese immigrants from the gold rush era. The Interlakes Pioneer Heritage Accessible Trail ventures past wetlands and through forest, while the 2.2-km (1.4-mi) Horsefly Accessible Trail meanders along the Horsefly river, offering views of the salmon spawning channel and the beautiful landscape.


Museum Cariboo Chilcotin Just off Hwy 97 at 1660B Broadway Ave South Williams Lake, BC 250-392-7404 34

Family-friendly hikes include Williams Lake’s popular River Valley Trail and the Mt. Agnes Trail network, near Barkerville, which follows the original Cariboo Waggon Road to wildflower-strewn alpine meadows below Summit Rock. Williams Lake’s Esler Bluffs boasts 44 routes, offering hikes for any ability and fitness level. Looking to scale new heights? Heli-assisted hikes and climbs can be arranged by local operators. Mountaineers come from around the world to tackle the 3,000-m (9,842-ft) peaks of the Coast Range, including 4,016-m (13,176-ft) Mt. Waddington, BC’s highest peak. Experienced hikers can also

On beautiful Canim Lake Home of the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame BC’s only ranching and rodeo museum

Cabins • Condos • Camping RV sites • Weddings & reunions 250-397-2243

Geoff Moore

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

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do a multi-day trek up the Niut Range to spectacular vistas framed by the contrast of bright blue glacial lakes against orange rock; or to get up there more quickly, charter a plane. Birdwatching is the perfect companion activity to hiking. Many of the region’s hiking trails are situated by scenic lakes or streams, where birdwatching opportunities abound. At Bowron Lake Provincial Park, for example, you can view up to 20 different species of waterfowl between late April and mid-September. The park is also notable for its large songbird population, including the western wood-pewee, Hammond’s flycatcher and Eastern kingbird.

Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is also a top-notch place to view birds, including spruce grouse and white-tailed ptarmigans. And Anahim Lake, near Nimpo Lake, offers opportunities to sight many species including white pelicans, trumpeter swans, waterfowl and bald eagles. Whether you crave the wild rush of hurling on two wheels down a rugged backcountry trail, the peaceful calm of an easy ramble along a countryside trail, or the thrill of sighting a rare bird on a lakeside trail, this region delivers the goods to outdoor enthusiasts. ¤

The wetlands near 100 Mile House is also a birdwatcher’s paradise. Visitors can expect to catch a glimpse of yellowheaded and red-winged blackbirds, as well as sandpipers, swallows, grebes and ducks. The Scout Island Nature Centre, in the heart of Williams Lake, is a fantastic spot for wildlife viewing. The Centre, which encompasses 2.5 km (1.5 mi) of trails along a lake and marsh, promises the opportunity to spot foxes, beavers and turtles. But the main attraction is the hundreds of species of birds, including osprey, riparian songbirds and American white pelicans. Scout Island is dog and wheelchair friendly and offers community programs year-round, though birdwatching is at its best during spring and fall.

Grouse in the north Cariboo Thomas Drasdauskis

Adventure in our backyard.

New resort in Anahim Lake • Comfortable apartments and cabins • Located directly on the waterfront • Various adventure activities in summer and winter: Riding – fishing – canoeing – mountainbiking – hiking – quad-touring – snowmobiling – ice-fishing – stargazing Booking at:

Red Cariboo Resort 23302 Hwy. 20, PO Box 3451 Anahim Lake, British Columbia +1 250-742-3287

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


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Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Special Places:

Cariboo Mountains Story Contributor: Mary Elliott

The Cariboo Mountains is true wilderness country. It features rare, interior rainforest with ancient red cedars and 3,000-m (10,000-ft) high, serrated mountain peaks and glaciers; with crystal-clear lakes and lush wetlands The three largest provincial parks, Bowron Lakes, Cariboo Mountain and Wells Gray, and the smaller provincial parks: Cariboo River, Quesnel Lake and Horsefly Lake combine as one massive protected area of over 760,000 hectares (2 million acres). This dramatic region, located between the mighty Fraser River to the Rocky Mountain Trench in the north Cariboo, is sparsely populated and accessed by the small communities of Horsefly, Likely and Wells. Anchoring this massive slice of backcountry “heaven” is Quesnel Lake, the world’s deepest fjord lake. And that’s not the only impressive water body here; many small lakes and alpine tarns, fast-flowing rivers and tributaries run through the region. For those with a penchant for seeking them out, several thunderous, cascading waterfalls can be found throughout, including two at Ghost Lake. Grizzly bears (one of the largest populations of grizzlies in the BC interior), black bears, moose, mountain goats, cougars, wolves, over 250 species of birds and many small mammals also call this part of BC their home. The diversity of the area provides critical habitat for several wildlife species, including the rare mountain caribou that depends on the arboreal lichens found in old-growth forests, which they can reach by walking on top of the deep winter snowpack. Crooked Lake in the Cariboo Mountain range Michael Bednar Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


With everything combined, the Cariboo Mountains is a coveted destination for outdoor adventure seekers. Bowron Lakes is home to the renowned, multi-day, 116-km (72-mi) canoe circuit. Wilderness hiking, canoeing, ATVing, fishing, hunting, heli-assisted adventures, winter adventures and year-round bird and wildlife-viewing can all be had in the Cariboo Mountains. Wild and undeveloped, the area is best accessed with seasoned guides. Anglers in the know also head here. The rivers provide spawning, rearing and foraging habitats for salmonids, including sockeye, coho, chinook, kokanee, bull trout and rainbow trout. Horsefly Lake and Quesnel Lake offer excellent angling opportunities and refreshing elbow room to cast without any crowds. But the surprising beauty and peace of this area can be summed up by this perspective, given by a local fishing guide: “Waters like these... sometimes you don’t need to catch a fish.” All this to say, the Cariboo Mountains area is indeed special. It offers those lucky enough to visit here a chance to experience the world from the eyes of the forest and the wildlife. To enjoy the solitude that this place offers. ¤

Lower Ghost Falls in the Cariboo Mountains Blake Jorgenson

Grizzlies, Wilderness and Wildlife! Authentic Canadian Nature Experiences in the Heart of the Cariboo Mountains

British Columbia's premier adventure destination 250-790-2292 NA Toll Free 1-866-299-9100

A uniquely Canadian wilderness adventure | 1-800-924-2944 40

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


Cowboy Culture Story Contributor: Crai Bower

This region is vast and geographically varied, with dark and rugged mountains, rolling hills of clay, and meadows where herds of cattle dot the endless farm and ranchland. It’s a land of big enterprises, where over 150 years ago there was a stampede for gold that only the Klondike surpassed. Today, it has cattle spreads as big as any in North America. The ranch and cowboy culture here date back to the Gold Rush era. During that time, when the Province of British Columbia was being formed, cattlemen ranching south of the border (in the U.S.) were encouraged to trail their cowherds up into BC to an area where gold had been discovered and the thousands of miners were hungry for beef, which was hard to find at that time. Cattle drives from as far south as California headed north. Once across the border, the Canadian government offered drivers generous leases to establish cattle ranches here. And so they did, amongst them Jerome and Thaddeus Harper. The brothers had been ranching and gold mining in California, when they heard about the gold rush in British Columbia and the need for beef. The opportunity being too good to pass up, they headed north with their herds. Once here, they quickly became owners of large tracts of ranchland throughout the interior, one of which was the massive Gang Ranch, which is still in operation today. In fact, the Gang Ranch is still one of the largest ranches on the continent. Considered the oldest cattle ranch in BC, the Alkali Lake Ranch dates back to the Gold Rush days when German immigrant Herman Otto Bowe had established a stopping house in what he called Paradise Valley and word quickly spread about the 42

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Kleena Kleene Kari Medig

quality of his establishment. The ranch was so dubbed because of its location beside the lake with a patch of alkali visible on the hillside. Over time, Bowe partnered with John Koster and together they increased their land mass and cattle herd. The ranchland is now a part of Douglas Lake Ranch, which still operates today. Ranching and herding, riding and wrangling is still very much a way of life in the Cariboo and Chilcotin areas. The cowboys here are said to be a combination of a Mexican vaquero’s skills, equipment and clothes; an American frontiersman’s grit and resourcefulness; an Indigenous respect for conserving the raw nature; and a British gentleman’s manners and sense of law and order; all topped off with a cowboy’s unique brand of humour. Travellers with a yearning for this wild and rugged way of life have a whole range of options and experiences. One such example is a 10-day horse-supported exploration of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and the magnificent Rainbow Mountains. Or riders can cross the Chilcotin’s Potato Range with its lakeside trails, then pitch a tent in a secluded meadow and bunk down under the big night skies. This region is home to more than half of BC’s guest ranches, each rich in lodging nuances and equine immersion. Others offer experiences that are the stuff of cowboy dreams. Think guitars, cowboy songs and tall tales around a campfire, bunking down in an old-fashioned log cabin or sleeping under the stars in a snug bedroll and waking at dawn to the aroma of coffee brewing and bacon cooking over an open flame. Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |



Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Many guest ranches exist as working cattle and horse operations, a tradition that has seen few changes in the past 150 years. Cowhands still round up the cattle during spring and fall, which means sleeping under the stars before returning to the bunkhouse. These same cowpokes will still practice roping, bronc riding and barrel racing at every opportunity, the same way any craftsperson hones skills to keep professional standards sharp. The rodeo, an opportunity for working ranch hands to come together and demonstrate their pragmatic skills, began with the Williams Lake Stampede in 1920 to celebrate the making of the new town with the arrival of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. The party quickly caught on. Each year the BC Rodeo Association also sponsors events throughout the region, including local rodeos held in Clinton, Bella Coola, Williams Lake, Anahim Lake, Alkali Lake, Interlakes and Redstone with each rodeo reflecting the spirit of that community and offering its own special twist on the traditional rodeo format. The communities of Anahim Lake, Nemiah and Redstone champion a series of Indigenous rodeo events. Children are the stars of the springtime Little Britches Rodeo in 100 Mile House, featuring mutton busting, goat tying and dummy roping. Clinton’s May extravaganza features a fullon Western Heritage Week, with cowboy poetry readings, western musical performances and an old-time ball. ¤

INFO: About 50 km (31 mi) west of Riske Creek, a roadside plaque describes the legendary Yukon cattle drive of English architect Norman Lee, who set out from his Chilcotin ranch in 1898 with 200 head of cattle on his disastrous 2,500km (1,553-mi) trek to Dawson City. Lee wrote a chronicle of the misadventure (which later became a book entitled Klondike Cattle Drive) and set up shop at Lee’s Corner. (The town, later called Hanceville, sadly experienced a devastating fire in 2017). Travellers can take a couple of interesting trips from here, venturing southwest to the Nemiah Valley or Taseko Lake. Taseko Lake is a four-season playground offering camping, hiking and wildlife viewing.

Facing Page: Nemiah Rodeo David Jacobson Following Pages: Near Watch Lake Michael Bednar

Feel the Freedom

Adventure Package with Camp Trip Trail Riding ❖ Fishing ❖ Hunting Comfortable 4-star Canada-Select Guest Ranch 5 rooms, 1 suite and 2 outside cabins. En-suite bathrooms. All-inclusive package including meals, some activities and free use of all facilities., +1 778 784 4803 WhatsApp now: +1 250 855 8186 Big Creek Lodge, PO Box 20, 7793 Witte Road, Big Creek, BC Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


EXPERIENCES Williams Lake Stampede Professional rodeo events and scads of family fun, including a parade and street party. Bella Coola Rodeo Competitors from far and wide compete in popular rodeo events, plus the infamous cowpatty bingo (if the cow drops a patty on your square, you win). Tatla Lake Gymkhana Horses and riders test their equine skills at this family event held annually over the Father's Day weekend. Anahim Lake Stampede Old-fashioned rodeo, staged since 1938, that includes barrel racing, bronco riding, barbecue and beer garden. Redstone Rodeo Professional rodeo action, including a cowboy breakfast and good ol' fashioned barn dance. Clinton Rodeo This annual extravaganza features a full-on Western Heritage Week, with cowboy poetry readings, western musical performances and an old-time ball.


Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


Salmon Tales Story Contributor: Jane Zatylny

Flavourful wild Pacific salmon never disappoints, whether poached and served with a rich buttery sauce or savoured in all its robust red glory, delicately smoked and thinly sliced. But this princely protein is so much more than its tasty end result. Salmon are a keystone species, meaning that entire ecosystems rely on their abundance. Salmon feed not only humans, but also whales, bears, eagles, and a multitude of other species. In fact, the Pacific Salmon Foundation estimates that more than 130 different species of plants and animals rely on wild Pacific salmon. Wild Pacific salmon are anadromous, which means they divide their lives between fresh and saltwater. Born in freshwater, they make their way to the ocean, then in maturity battle their way home against river currents, as far as 3,000 km (1,864 mi) to their natal waters, where they spawn and die. Their decaying carcasses, abandoned by eagles and bears, then fertilize coastal and inland forests with vast amounts of nitrogen. For thousands of years, salmon have also played an integral role in the cultural identity of this region’s Indigenous people, who recognize five tribes of Pacific salmon. We know these species as chinook, sockeye, coho, pink and chum. While they may look similar at first glance, each type of salmon has its own unique flavour and fat content. Prized chinook salmon have the highest fat content and offer a rich, buttery texture, while pink salmon, for instance, have lighter-coloured flesh and is more delicate in flavour. Versatile and nutritious, salmon can be grilled, poached, fried, baked, smoked or candied. 48

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Grizzly Bear on the Chilko River Henrik Nilsson

Throughout history, salmon have been captured through a variety of methods, some of which are still in practice today. For example, in the Fraser River canyon, fishers “gaff” or dip-net fish in the turbulent water below from perilous positions on rocks or wooden platforms. You can observe this Secwepemc (shi-huep-muh-k) fishing method at one of the four Xatśūll (hat-sool) fishing rocks on the Fraser River, part of the Xat’sull Heritage Village, about 38 km (20 mi) north of Williams Lake. The heritage centre also offers a traditional roasted salmon lunch, prepared in a fire pit. The fishing grounds of the St’at’imc (stat-lee-um) people at Xwisten (hoist-in), near Lillooet, also offer demonstrations of their traditional wind-dry method in preparing salmon for the winters ahead. There are many ways to experience salmon fishing in this region, whether it’s inland or closer to the ocean, with most visitors choosing a lodge as their home base. On the coast, millions of salmon make first landfall at River’s Inlet and Hakai Pass after battling northern Pacific currents in search of their natal streams. En route, these salmon pass some of the most famous fishing holes on the coast, including Odlum Point, the Gap and Barney Point, where gentle back eddies provide rest and feeding areas for salmon and outstanding fishing opportunities for anglers and Orcas. The Dean River is another wellknown salmon fishing spot; some outfitters on the river provide a base camp for fishing expeditions. The tiny settlement of Kleena Kleene, just 31 km (19 mi) west of Tatla Lake on Highway 20 and mere minutes from Clearwater Lake, is a departure Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |



Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

point for float-plane excursions to remote fishing lakes and rivers and the region’s celebrated alpine wilderness. Local guest ranches and lodges, some with canoe-to-your-door chalets, also offer land and boat touring, photography treks and working ranch holidays. If you would rather watch grizzlies and black bears fish for salmon, or just witness this miraculous migration for yourself, consider staying at one of the region’s numerous fishing lodges in September or October. Many business operators are active environmental stewards, providing opportunities to educate their guests about salmon and their circle of life. Their guides can lead you along rivers and tributaries as they turn crimson with spawning fish, not only to fish, but also to observe. Pack your camera and longest lenses and take your place along the shore on a viewing platform or board a boat and capture grizzly bears fishing for salmon. Witness the spawning spectacle for yourself just by hiking along the banks of the Atnarko River (Tweedsmuir Provincial Park), Quesnel Lake, the Bowron chain (Bowron Lake Provincial Park), Cariboo River (Cariboo River Provincial Park), Horsefly River (Horsefly Provincial Park) and the Facing Page: Lillooet Jonny Bierman

Mitchell River. In late summer or fall, keep your eyes trained on the water for a flicker of red. Aside from the five species of wild Pacific salmon, you can also fish the region’s crystal clear lakes for kokanee salmon, the freshwater, or non-anadromous, subspecies of sockeye salmon. Follow Highway 24, known as the “Fishing Highway”, a modern, paved road that runs east to west between Little Fort and 100 Mile House in the South Cariboo (atop of the Fraser Plateau). Many of the lakes, including spring-fed Bridge Lake with its crystal-clear waters, are teaming with kokanee as well as burbot, rainbow and lake trout. Whether you experience salmon through an Indigenous tour, watch local wildlife fish for dinner, or cast a line into a remote salmon river yourself, you are sure to appreciate your next meal of wild Pacific salmon when you understand the cultural and biological importance of this species. ¤

Following Pages: Bridge River Valley Blake Jorgenson

Cultural & Historical Tours

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EXPERIENCES BC Family Fishing Weekend Free fishing events for anglers and families are held annually on Father’s Day weekend. Knowledgeable volunteers are on hand at most events. Canadian residents can fish licence-free for the entire three days. Events in this region are held in Alexis Creek, Clinton and Williams Lake. Website: Horsefly River Salmon Festival Annual festival celebrates the return of up to one million sockeye salmon to the Horsefly River with demonstrations, food, music, arts, crafts and more. Website: Puntzi Lake Fishing Derby This event has been a family tradition since 1984, and takes place in the heart of summer.


Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |



Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Discovering Our Secret Season Story Contributor: Jonny Bierman

British Columbia has been sculpted through time by an element so powerful, it’s moved mountains. Water chooses its own path and changes with every season – much like the wildlife it supports and the vegetation it feeds. As an avid outdoorsman, I’ve long been drawn to salt and freshwater for my aquatic adventures. Last year, I discovered a secret season where rivers come to life, lakes reflect golden colours, and the salmon bring the ocean to the rainforest. The season is autumn, full of life and action. It was this season that transformed my connection with water and nature. The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is home to the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest – The Great Bear Rainforest – and it’s alive from the ocean floor to the glacier-capped mountaintops. Its wildlife thrives in a place that is unphased by the outside world and listens only to the moon, tides, seasons and, most importantly, the salmon migration. Autumn touring in the Great Bear Rainforest comes in the form of small cruise expeditions that take visitors through uncharted waters, glacial fjords, remote islands and unnamed estuaries. There’s a big reason why we visit this place in the autumn – bear viewing. As the salmon make their annual migration from the ocean to the rivers, they bring an abundance of food and energy necessary for wildlife to survive the winter ahead.

Burke Channel Kent Bernadet Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


It was one such cruise that I was fortunate enough to enjoy. As we floated down the waters and walked the riverbanks and beaches, salmon carcasses with evidence of wolves, bears, and eagles feeding on them were endless. We were searching for wildlife and clearly we were in the right place. It wasn’t long into the trip before we saw black bears and even a Spirit bear feeding below from a bear viewing platform. Our local Indigenous guide interpreted his people’s connection to the land and animals while salmon splashed around, teasing their not-always successful furry hunters above. Coastal sea wolves paced a foggy beach and howled from the forest while making their presence known in an eerie encounter I’ll not soon forget. No one day is the same out there, and our expedition cruise put us in the path of magic each and every moment. Magic came from the sky as the northern lights lit up the night (a sight hard to see with the long summer days, but easier as the nights become longer in autumn and winter). It came from the ocean as whales surrounded our ship almost daily, and from the rainforest with the countless land-dwelling animals unphased by our presence and mostly concerned about their next meal. Glacial runoff turned the ocean turquoise as the ship cruised narrow fjords, with kayaking excursions leading us deeper into the unknown but closer to the coastline where curiosity ensued. Through seven days of transformational 56

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Bowron Lake Provincial Park Thomas Drasdauskis

experiences and unforgettable connections, I learned the Great Bear Rainforest is a gift – and this gift is best opened in the autumn. When water chooses its path, its destination is always, eventually, the ocean. In BC, all waters end up in the Pacific Ocean but where they came from is a different story. The element that has shaped this province over millennia usually starts at glaciers and in the South Chilcotin, a floatplane ride will bring the ancient ice to life. On another trip, I discovered this colourful season in a dramatically different part of the region. After a scenic fivehour drive from Vancouver, we arrived in the Bridge River Valley – the gateway to the South Chilcotin Mountains. Most activities out here – whether it be lakeside overnight ‘glamping’ trips (fully catered comfort tent camping), hiking or biking – involve a horseback trip or floatplane ride. Autumn here can arrive early due to the elevation and, as nights cool off, the countless lakes reflect the golden foliage from changing trees lining their shores. BC from above offers a different perspective and, any chance I get, I climb into a floatplane and explore. This time out, the first stop was the Bridge Glacier where I learned of the existence of freshwater icebergs. After soaring over alpine lakes and mountain peaks, we cut in over the glacier before landing on


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Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |



Likely, BC 250-790-2200 1-877-718-2200

Northern Lights Lodge is a unique BC fly fishing lodge offering unforgettable guided fly fishing on four pristine wilderness rivers in the Cariboo Mountains. Here, you will catch wild native Rainbow Trout that have likely never been caught before.

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Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

the lake and cruising next to icebergs larger than a house. From beginning to end, the trip took us over valleys painted with golden fall browns and azure-blue lakes in unimaginable natural contrasts that can only exist in these mountains. The Bridge River Valley is very much a “choose your own adventure” kind of place. While soaring above got my adrenalin pumping, I was more at peace while channeling my inner pioneer on a horse pack trip. Accommodations can range from glamping (a pampering way to experience nature up close while enjoying the luxuries of a soft bed and delicious meals), to lodges and cabins. No matter the adventure option you choose, an autumn experience in the South Chilcotin will bring you closer to a part of the province that I’ll bet you never knew existed and at this time of year. Best of all, you’ll have it all to yourself. Driving east from the Bridge River Valley to Lillooet, the autumn adventures continued through dramatic mountain scenery as Pioneer Rd 40 snaked through the valley bottom. Towering peaks with roadside waterfalls, rich vegetation, scrambling mountain goats, and the feeling of a real “off the beaten path” road trip kept me entertained before arriving at the confluence of the Bridge and Fraser rivers.

Likely Thomas Drasdauskis

I mentioned at the start of this story how this season transformed my connection with water and nature. Well, this transformation actually goes deeper. I learned more about the season and its cultural importance through a local Indigenous cultural tour at the Xwisten (hoist-in) Heritage Site. They referred to nature and the planet as ‘Mother Earth’ or the ‘Creator’, and our local Indigenous guides put our recent natural experiences and adventures into perspective as we paid respect and thanked the Creator for what was provided. I found my own connection while learning about theirs through teachings dating back millennia, eating barbequed salmon caught from their traditional fishing rocks, and sitting in on a drumming ceremony. Further on, we learned about Indigenous environmental stewardship through an interpretive walk into salmon estuaries at Splitrock Environmental and then both sampled and purchased locally foraged teas and soaps from the gift shop. Water’s relationship and its importance with seasons gave me a new appreciation of the element itself, and with the land. Travelling in this season brings with it uncrowded destinations and a better chance to connect with the nature surrounding you. I discovered autumn as my new secret season. ¤ Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |



Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Land of the Spirit Bear Story Contributor: Amy Watkins

Reclusive and elusive, the graceful movements of the Kermode bears of the Great Bear Rainforest have earned them the nickname ghost bear or Spirit bears. Hidden in the emerald, old-growth forests of the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest, these white-furred bears are unique to the central and northern coast of British Columbia and have even been named the province’s official mammal. Spiritually significant to the Indigenous people who have called these isolated inlets and islands home for millennia, the Spirit bears of the Great Bear Rainforest are a magical sight for lucky visitors to the region. Stretching along the central and northern coast of British Columbia, the six million hectares of the Great Bear Rainforest encompass a quarter of the world’s coastal temperate rainforest and spans an area that is around the size of Ireland. Between June and October, Spirit bears can be spotted — or at least searched for — amongst the thick thousandyear-old cedars, Sitka spruce, Douglas fir and mossy dens of the Great Bear Rainforest. Feeding on berries, plants, and salmon, the bears can sometimes be seen filling up in the forest in the summer or gorging on salmon from fastflowing rivers in the fall. It’s thought that the Spirit bears have survived here so well because their white fur makes it harder for salmon to spot the mighty mammal. Tours have better chances to encounter these ghostly bears when the animals are fishing for salmon in September and October; tour operators are mindful of staying at a respectful distance (even though the Kermodes have little fear of humans, due to the remote nature of their surroundings). Great Bear Rainforest Ian McAllister/Pacific Wild Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


Standing at an average height of 122-183 cm (4-6 ft) and weighing an average of 68-136 kg (150-300 lbs), these Spirit bears can weigh as much as 290 kg (639 lbs) and live up to 25 years in the wild. Given the Latin name Ursus americanus kermodei, the bears are named after Francis Kermode, who helped zoologists find the bears in the early 1900s and later became the director of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. Spirit bears have white fur but black noses and paws — marking them as different to albino or polar bears. Kermode bears are actually a subspecies of black bears and are the result of a double recessive gene, similar to the phenomenon that results in red hair or blue eyes in humans. Found uniquely in this area of BC, it is estimated that there are only around 100 of them in the wild and that their gene occurs in one in every 40-100 black bears on BC’s mainland coast. This number rises to one in 10 on Princess Royal Island and one in three on Gribbell Island, in the traditional territory of the Gitga’at (git-gat). The Gitga’at are one of the 14 nations that make up the Tsimshian (sim-she-an) people of British Columbia’s central coast. The islands are only accessible by air or sea and are situated in remote wilderness that is around 800 km (497 mi) north of Vancouver and 228 km (142 mi) northwest of Bella Coola.

Scientists believe that the white fur of the Spirit bears could have evolved as protection during the last ice age, when perhaps these bears were isolated from the mainland but survived and thrived due to the lack of predators. Today it’s estimated that 500 to 1,200 black bears might be carriers of the Kermode gene – it’s possible for two black bears to produce a white bear if they both carry the gene. Spirit bears continue to have spiritual significance to the Indigenous people of the area, although for many years nobody would speak of the bears in order to protect them from hunters. The local Kitasoo people also tell the tale of a kidnapped woman who married her handsome captor, who was really a bear, and that they had three children with bear bodies and human faces. One of the offspring was white because the creator Raven made a deal with the bears long ago — after Raven shape-shifted into a child to learn how to make fire, the then-white Raven flew out of the hut via a smoke hole, covering himself with soot and remaining black. He then told the bears that some of them must remain white in his honour. 62

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


Co ella

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For a long time, the Spirit bears were considered a legend of the Gitga’at and Kitasoo (kit-ah-soo) people, based on the story of the time when the glaciers receded and Raven, creator of the rainforest, made one in 10 black bears white to remind people of the time when the earth was covered in ice and snow. Raven located these bears in the Great Bear Rainforest, where they can still be seen today.

Your Guide to the Great Bear Rainforest for over 30 years Private Log Cabins at Resort Hotsprings and Glacial Fjord Tours Wilderness Wildlife Tours Ocean Fishing Charters

Leonard Ellis, Owner/Manager Bella Coola, British Columbia, Canada Telephone 250.982.0098 Skype bcgrizzlytours


Near Shearwater Geoff Moore

During the second half of the 1800s the Kitasoo merged with the Xai'xais (hay-hace) and founded the community of Klemtu, in a beautifully pristine cove on Swindle Island, close to Princess Royal and Gribbell islands, in the Inside Passage between BC and Alaska. With a small population of 420 people, the community is comprised of these two First Nations that speak different languages. The village became a refuelling stop for coastal steamers that needed wood and, today, fishing is the main industry here. Visitors can see the red cedar “Big House,â€? a traditional communal place for celebrations that features the village’s clan emblems of a raven, eagle, wolf and Orca (killer whale). Spirit bears are deeply respected by the Indigenous peoples who share their traditional territory with the Kermode, and they are eager to share their knowledge and reverence for them through cultural tours, where you can take a sea safari or hike into the forests to spot wolves, whales and grizzlies; hear their stories and lessons; and hopefully catch a glimpse of these elusive creatures. ¤

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Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |



Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

EXPERIENCE: Exploring the Great Bear Rainforest by water offers an intimate and unforgettable experience. Operators offer a variety of services, from scientific missions to relaxing sailboat cruises, traversing the protected channels. 10 km (6 mi) west of Namu and south of Bella Bella, the 123,000-ha (303,940-ac) Hakai Luxvbalis (looks-bal-ease) Conservation Area offers some of the finest kayaking.

Facing Page: Nuxalk (nu-halk) Guide in Bella Coola Tyler Cave

Great Bear Rainforest Tyler Cave

Copper Sun Journeys and Gallery

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Over The Top Adventures Bella Coola, BC

Guided UTV tours to the Valley's

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know bEfore you go Visitor Centres & Booths

BC Visitor Centres and Booths offer friendly, professionally trained staff with local knowledge of attractions, activities, events and current seasonal road travel to help you make informed travel plans. They can also assist with accommodation, transportation and sightseeing tour bookings. Please refer to the map in the centre of this guide for locations of BC Visitor Centres and info booths throughout the region.

International Visitors to Canada

Canadian law requires that all persons entering Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid US passport, passport card or NEXUS card satisfies these requirements for US citizens. Children under 16 need only present proof of US citizenship. Other international visitors to Canada must carry a valid passport and, if required, a visa. Visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for a complete listing of countries whose citizens require visas to enter Canada. All other visitors should contact their Canadian consulate or embassy to learn which documents are required. To learn more about Canadian customs regulations, visit the Canada Border Services Agency website. Citizenship & Immigration Office: Canada Border Services Agency:

Ferry Travel

BC Ferries’ Northern Sea Wolf provides direct sailings between Bella Coola in the Great Bear Rainforest and Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island. The region can also be accessed by the Inside Passage-Mid Coast-Bella Coola route, onboard the Northern Expedition. Depending on your destination, you may change vessels along the way. Reservations should be made well in advance for travel on Inside Passage and the Discovery Coast Connector routes to Great Bear Rainforest communities. Check with BC Ferries for current schedules and to make reservations. 1-888-223-3779

Air Travel

Pacific Coastal Airlines services Williams Lake, Anahim Lake, Bella Coola and Bella Bella. 1-800-663-2872 Central Mountain Air services Quesnel and Williams Lake. 1-888-865-8585 Wilderness Seaplanes offer both charter and scheduled service to a number of destinations along the central coast. 1-800-343-5963


Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Rail Travel

The Rocky Mountaineer’s Rainforest to Gold Rush route travels from Vancouver to Jasper, Alberta, through the historic Cariboo, with an overnight stop in Quesnel. Reservations are required. 1-877-460-3200

Firearms in Canada

For information regarding the importation of firearms to Canada, contact the Canadian Firearms Centre at 1-800-731- 4000 from Canada, or from the US at 1-506-624-6626 from other locations

Watercraft Regulations

Everyone who operates a power-driven boat in Canada needs proof of competency — something that shows they understand the rules of the 'road' and how to safely operate a boat. The most common proof of competency is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. For more information visit Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety online or call the safe boating line. 1-800-267-6687

Recreational Vehicle Operation

Operators of recreational vehicles in BC are required to comply with provincial regulations. To ensure you are aware of current updates and requirements in your area, review websites regularly. Visit and search for off road vehicles. 1-250-356-7040 The following websites may provide helpful information for planning your visit to the region.

BC Driving Conditions or 1-800-550-4997

BC Wildfire Travel Advisories

Parks & Camping

Fishing, Hunting, Wildlife

Check current regulations and restrictions:

know before you go Outdoor Safety

The wilderness areas of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region attract visitors from all over the world. As much of the region is true wilderness, communications can be spotty or non-existent. Anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors should be well prepared and leave a trip plan with a friend. AdventureSmart has a wealth of safety information to help you make the most of your trip. Harmful human-wildlife conflict is extremely rare, but visitors should be prepared for the possibility of encountering wildlife. AdventureSmart and Wildsafe have helpful guidelines for dealing with wildlife encounters. Please report human-wildlife conflict to the conservation officer service; you can also help us keep our wilderness intact by reporting any suspected poaching or polluting. 1-877-952-7277 (Conservation Officer Service) British Columbia has a world-class system of volunteer-run Search and Rescue. If someone you know is lost, injured or overdue from a trip in the outdoors, please contact the local police. There is no charge for emergency search and rescue services.

Wildfire Safety

Wildfires play an important role in the lifecycle of the forests of British Columbia, returning nutrients to the soil and renewing the ecosystem. While spectacular, these events can be dangerous. British Columbia has a provincial service that handles wildfires and ensures public safety. For information on current wildfire events, please contact the BC Wildfire service. If you encounter a wildfire, you can help keep people safe by reporting it. 1-800-663-5555 *5555 (Mobile Phones) When the risk of fire is high, it is sometimes necessary to ban open fires, including campfires. This helps prevent wildfires and makes the outdoors safer for everyone. You can check the status of active bans at any time through the BC Wildfire Service. Please be aware that there are substantial fines in place for violating a fire ban.

Emergency Contacts Police, Fire, Ambulance, most of BC* 911 Bella Coola Police 250-799-5363 Bella Coola Ambulance 1-800-461-9911 Ambulance, from a satellite phone 250-374-5937 Ambulance, if 911 does not work* 0, ask for operator *911 does not work in some areas, such as Bella Coola and backcountry areas Emergency information Emergency Info BC is the provincial source for information on ongoing emergency situations. @emergencyinfobc

The BC Wildfire Service provides up-to-date information on wildfire conditions. @BCGovFireInfo @BCForestFireInfo 1-888-336-7378 (information line)

Evacuation Alerts and Orders When a hazard poses a risk to the public, the government may issue evacuation notices. These come in two different levels: alerts and orders. For more information on evacuation notices, contact EmergencyInfoBC or the local government. Evacuation Alert: An evacuation alert is issued when there is a chance that a hazard may become a threat to the area. You do not have to leave an area under an evacuation alert and can travel in and out of these areas normally. However, you should be ready to leave if the alert is upgraded. Evacuation Order: An order is issued when there is an immediate threat to an area. When an order is issued, all people in the area must leave immediately. Please leave the area as soon as possible along the evacuation route.

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |




• Strategic Planning

Cheryl Chapman

Lead Consultant 250-267-8063

• Financial Coaching • Tenure and License applications

Mike Retasket

Consultant 250-267-6551

Frontline Trainers • Reconciliation Facilitators Traditional Presentations & Performances Event & Cultural Protocols Coordinators

In Your Own Backyard or Abroad

Offering small group tours in the Cariboo

a an nd d T TO OU UR RS S

250.392.6581 ❖ TF: 1-800 737-7631 Downtown Williams Lake Serving the Cariboo since 1978.

• Bookkeeping • 250-217-6438 •

Donna Barnett MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin

Williams Lake Office

100 Mile House Office

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7-530 Horse Lake Road P: (250) 395-3916

Discover the Cariboo on the shore of Lac La Hache

The Cariboo’s Friendliest Front Desk Staff 285 Donald Road, Williams Lake, BC 250.398.7055

Larry & Jerri New 3504 Hwy 97 Lac La Hache, BC P: 250.396.7109 F: 250.396.7129

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6252 Cedar Creek Rd • Likely, BC • 250-790-2218

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Morehead Lake Resort

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Moosehaven Resort

Time for a getaway...the lake is calling 6 Comfy Cabins • 30 full service RV Sites Heated Central Washroom • Laundry Boat, Kayak and Canoe Rentals Boat Launch • Fishing Licences • email: TF: 1 888 744-2271 or (250) 593-2300 Reservations recommended. Sorry, no pets.


Museum Cariboo Chilcotin Just off Hwy 97 at 1660B Broadway Ave South Williams Lake, BC 250-392-7404

Geoff Moore

Ramada Williams Lake Free WiFi • Conference Facilities Complimentary Breakfast Carmens Restaurant Overlander Pub • Cold Beer & Wine 1118 Lakeview Crescent 250-392-3321 68

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


Chilcotin Barney’s Lakeside Resort

On Site Restaurant • Open All Year

3556 Puntzi Lake Rd Chilanko Forks BC

Chaunigan Lake Lodge

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• Trail Rides WATCH LAKE • Lakefront Cabins LODGE • Camping • Boats Spring LakePhoner(250)anch 456-7741 Your host: Dimps Horn New resort in Anahim Lake Red Cariboo Resort 23302 Hwy. 20, PO Box 3451 Anahim Lake, British Columbia +1 250-742-3287

A beautiful and affordable guest ranch near 100 Mile House. Log cabins, scenic trail rides for beginners Big Bar and the more experienced. Guy Lundstrom 10,000 aces of range surrounding a private lake. Open year round.

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Join us for Puntzi Lake Fishing Derby July 10, 11, 12 250-481-0011 • 250-800-0400 Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |




to the Great Bear Rainforest la Coola Grizzly Tours Your Guidefor over 30 years IN B el Private Log Cabins at Resort Hotsprings and Glacial Fjord Tours Wilderness Wildlife Tours • Ocean Fishing Charters



Off Road 4WD SUV Rentals Clean, Safe and Reliable

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Coastal Adventures in the Heart of the Great Bear Rainforest (250)799-5202 (seasonal) Visitor Centre 442 MacKenzie St., Bella Coola Box 670, Bella Coola BC Canada V0T 1H0

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Copper Sun Journeys, Rafting and Gallery Book your tour today Fly-In 250.267.6430 Trophy Salmon Fishing Lodge Visit us at our location in Bella Coola 442 Mackenzie Street

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Offering a wonderful ambiance along with a wide selection of BC books, Native jewellery and art, sporting goods, fishing licences, marine charts & maps, clothing, footwear, toys and giftware 438 Mackenzie St. at Dean Ave. Bella Coola 250-799-5553

Direct 90 Minute Seaplane Flight from Vancouver Remote Wildeness Setting Intimacy, Isolation, Exceptional Service Fly-In Trophy Salmon Fishing Lodge 90 Minute Seaplane Flight from Vancouver Remote Wilderness Setting Intimacy, Isolation • Exceptional Service



w w w. ri ve rs i n l e t . co m

Grizzly Bear on Chilko Lake David Jacobson 70

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |


Lillooet Museum & Visitor Centre History, Culture & Travel Advice


VISIT LILLOOET B.C. there’s nothing like it



Stories of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast |

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