Where would you be heading if you exited the Freeway at Hope, B.C. wandered through the picturesque small town that hugs the banks of the mighty Fraser River and met up with Hwy 1, heading north? You would be travelling through the Fraser Canyon – the same route thousands of visitors used as they sought their fortune during B.C.’s 1850’s gold rush.
North about ten minutes from Hope is the small town of Yale. Today there are but a few remnants from that period in history where the population reportedly stood around 15,000 – most of the population arriving when word of a gold strike in the area spread. It is hard to imagine – Yale had the largest population east of Chicago and North of San Francisco during this gold rush period! In addition, Yale was the furthest point up river that steamships were able to navigate through. From Yale, wagon roads were literally carved into the canyon rock facings to allow horses (and for a time camels) to transport men and their provisions further up the canyon en route to the Cariboo. As you can imagine, this route was extremely treacherous and many lost their lives before they found their fortunes.
Leaving Yale, you will encounter the first of seven tunnels constructed in 1957 to 1964 and situated between the stretch of Highway 1 between Yale and Boston Bar.
From Yale you will pass through the small community of Spuzzum. It’s tiny. As my father would say to us as kids “blink and you will miss it!”
Hells Gate (open from spring until late fall) is a tourist attraction worth stopping at. You can board a tram for a ride down to view the rushing waters of the Fraser River while taking in the surrounding vistas. It is quite spectacular. Leaving Hells Gate you will pass through several tunnels as the highway hugs the edge of the canyon before reaching Boston Bar. But don’t keep driving through Boston Bar – turn left at the overhead sign that points over the Fraser to North Bend. Once a thriving, although isolated railway town situated on the other side of the Fraser River, North Bend has been connected to Boston Bar via a bridge since 1986. Prior to 1986, the isolated community relied on an aerial cable ferry to transport cars and people over the Fraser. The old ferry has been moved to Highway 1 in Boston Bar. You can now eat your lunch on the picnic table parked inside and learn about the area’s history by viewing the story boards surrounding the now grounded ferry.
During the gold rush, North Bend was also occupied by prospectors but it was the railway’s arrival in 1886 that marked the beginning of North Bend’s growth that included hotels, a store, a post office and houses for railway workers. It was in North Bend where crew changes occurred as a divisional point on the railway system between Vancouver and Kamloops.
Today the population of North Bend still consists of railway workers although since operational changes have occurred in the railway system, those numbers have fallen. Today many of these original railway houses have been bought by “weekenders”, those living in the lower mainland looking for a get-a-way not too far afield. (By the way, North Bend is only about 90 minutes from Chilliwack).
Are you looking for a weekend get-away? Handy with a hammer and power tools and not afraid of hard work? If you answered “yes” then the FVRD has a deal for you! For the sum of $1.00 and a commitment to restore the outside to heritage standards, you could buy a CP Railway house with land included! The only catch is the title does not get transferred until the outside work is completed.
One dollar houses