The Okanagan Valley, Kootenays, Kamloops, Glacier National Park & Eastern British Columbia by Ed Readicker-Henderson - Read Online
The Okanagan Valley, Kootenays, Kamloops, Glacier National Park & Eastern British Columbia
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The desire to travel is instinctive; to see what's ahead of us, around the corner, or across the sea.  We've been curious about the world since time began. So get out there, see the world, have an adventure, have fun, live! This book first covers all of B
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ISBN: 9781556500541
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The Okanagan Valley, Kootenays, Kamloops, Glacier National Park & Eastern  British Columbia

Ed & Lynn Readicker-Henderson


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.

This guide focuses on recreational activities. As all such activities contain elements of risk, the publisher, author, affiliated individuals and companies disclaim responsibility for any injury, harm, or illness that may occur to anyone through, or by use of, the information in this book. Every effort was made to insure the accuracy of information in this book, but the publisher and author do not assume, and hereby disclaim, liability for any loss or damage caused by errors, omissions, misleading information or potential travel problems caused by this guide, even if such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident or any other cause.

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British Columbia, plain and simple, has everything. If you're looking for the pleasures of civilization, there's Victoria and Vancouver, two of the most popular cities in North America. If you're after the wild, there's the almost untouched Stikine wilderness.

British Columbia is the most diverse province in Canada: from the central plains to the coastal mountains and the Rockies, from the dry Okanagan Valley to the rainforests of the Pacific islands, it's like the rest of the world in miniature.

There's great history, too – the early HBC traders, and the First Nations villages that are coming back strong, keeping their traditions alive. There's also wildlife: bears, moose, whales. You can have high tea in Victoria and be out watching killer whales jump within an hour.

BC is also as easy a place in which to travel as you'll ever find. People are friendly, with that famed Canadian politeness. They speak good French and better English. There's a tourism infrastructure that's among the most organized in the world, ready to get you out and help you have fun.

Best of all is the land. It's so spectacular that it makes you want to pull over the car so you can gawk. There's something new and different around every corner.

Who We Are, What We Do & What You're in For

We've been writing guidebooks that deal with British Columbia for more than a dozen years; over that time, we've been lucky enough to get to see and do an astounding range of stuff in the province. We've sat with bears and kayaked with whales. We've ridden boats on pristine rivers and hiked trails that led to truly the middle of nowhere. We've stayed in hotel rooms that make us burn to win the lottery so we can move in permanently.

The goal of this book is to take advantage of that experience – hey, it's a rough job, but somehow we slug through it – to introduce you to the places and things that we think you're going to love.

However, let's admit to a few biases up front: you travel to see the wild, to be outside, to see the best that this great spinning globe of ours has to offer; you travel to find out what's different in cities and towns – gravy on french fries, an entire nation bemoaning its coinage. You don't go out there to eat or sleep at the same places you can find at home. Chain stores, in all their many permutations, make for mediocre experiences. We believe that you get the best trip when you deal with the people who live, work and make a place their home. If you're planning to spend your trip eating two meals a day at McDonald's, this book isn't for you.

We also believe the best travelers, the happiest travelers, are the ones who know what they're looking at. That's why we spend so much time on history and culture. There's a whole different country out there. It ain't just like it is back home.

And we hope it never is.



British Columbia is defined by the chains of mountains that line the land: to the north are the Cassiar and Omineca Mountains; to the southeast, the Columbia Mountains; and to the east, the Coast Mountains and the mighty Rockies. These mountains divide the province into sections of plateaus and valleys, rich for agriculture and animal husbandry, while blocking off huge tracts of land that are left to wilderness.

The Coast Mountains separate the rainforests of the coast from the drier interior; farther north, the Fairweather Range includes the highest point in British Columbia, Mt. Fairweather – one of the biggest massifs in the world. You can see it from 50 miles off, and it still looks huge.

At the far side of the province are the Rockies, dropping down to parallel the Alaska Highway, and then moving over towards the next province, Alberta, and one of the great park systems of the world. Here, Jasper, Banff, Kootenay and Yoho parks combine to form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The rivers of the province are no less impressive. The largest of them, the Fraser River, is 850 miles long and is fed by the Nechako, Quesnel, Chilcotin and Thompson rivers. The Kootenay flows down to the Columbia River in Washington State, and westward to the Pacific, weaving a tortuous path between mountain ranges. More than a quarter of a billion birds stop along the Stikine – the fastest free-flowing river left on the continent – during the height of the migration season.

The Coast

If all that wasn't enough, British Columbia has a long chain of islands, including Vancouver Island, biggest on the west coast – almost the size of England, in fact. There are the delightful little Gulf Islands – Salt Spring issues its own currency – and farther north, the islands of BC mesh with those of Alaska, forming the Inside Passage. Princess Royale Island has Kermodie bears. A rare subspecies of black bear, Kermodies are white. Off the beaten track are the Queen Charlotte Islands, home to some of the richest First Nations cultures in Canada. First Nations is an accepted term throughout Canada used to refer to all groups that were here before the arrival of Europeans.

Along the coast, there is the single greatest glory of the north, the Western red cedar (Thuja plicata). The cones are oval, as opposed to the round yellow cedar cones. This tree was the department store for First Nations peoples. They made their canoes from it, their houses, their clothes. The tree also provided medicine. The biggest Western red cedar trees are around Vancouver Island – stop at Cathedral Grove, or from Tofino, go over to Meares Island, where there's a tree trunk more than 60 feet in circumference. These trees can live over a thousand years; they rot from the inside, so a perfectly healthy tree may have a hollow space in it that's 10 or 15 feet across and 30 feet high. Red cedars also provide a base for other forest growth: the biggest trees on Meares Island have more than 50 species of plants growing on them. You can't understand life on the coast until you've taken a good look at these giants.

When William H. Seward bought Alaska from the Russians, his grand plan was actually to use it as leverage to allow the United States to annex British Columbia. The man knew a good thing when he saw it.


The land that is now British Columbia was first brought to European attention by Juan Perez in 1774; Captain Cook was the first European to land in the area, near Vancouver Island, in 1778, and he was quickly followed by George Vancouver. But the early explorers weren't really interested in British Columbia itself. They were actually just out there in search of a Northwest Passage.

So what finally got people interested in the territory? Fur. Plain and simple. Europe needed beavers to make felt for hats, and Canada had a lot of beavers. Prices were ridiculously high, and so traders and voyageurs headed into the interior, looking for fur sources.

From the official standpoint, it was Alexander Mackenzie who opened the territory, when his 1793 expedition reached the Pacific Coast by land – a decade before Lewis and Clark ever turned their sights west. Mackenzie was not only the first to cross the continent, he was one of the greatest explorers the North has ever seen. After dipping his toes in the Pacific Ocean, he headed north, following what is now the Mackenzie River system to the Great Slave Lake and eventually to the coast of the Arctic Ocean. He kept hearing stories about a big river to the west (the Yukon, no doubt), and in his search to find it, he created the foundations for Canada's western provinces, mapping endless stretches of land that see few visitors even today.

Where explorers first trod, tradesmen soon followed. After Mackenzie opened the West, Simon Fraser and George Thompson – names common to Canada's landscape today – followed in his footsteps. They took the trade out of the disorganized hands of the independent trader and opened a series of fur-trading posts for the Northwest Company, which was later absorbed by the Hudson's Bay Company. The HBC, expanding as quickly as it could, sent out men to solidify the company's hold on trade and to fend off territorial encroachment by upstart fur traders.

The first whites to settle permanently in British Columbia were a ragged group of hunters and trappers, who either lived with the Indians (the term currently in use through much of Canada is First Nations peoples) or took advantage of them, seeking their fortune in furs.

From this beginning grew the modern province of British Columbia.

Actually, in the beginning, it looked as if there were going to be three provinces, or at least three territories. The islands, including Vancouver Island, were not incorporated into the larger area until the middle of the 1800s. The Stikine River was also an independent administrative district, left to its own devices until the influx of gold miners made some kind of central control necessary.

Date modern BC to the territory joining the Dominion of Canada in 1871, and to the first railroad in the province, which joined BC to points east in 1875.

BC today is the best of Canada, with the best landscape, unparalleled scenery and plenty of open space. You can travel for days and not see another human, or you can hang out on the corner of Robson Street in Vancouver, and feel as if, sooner or later, the entire world will walk by. BC has found its niche in a diverse economy and vast natural beauty.

The Gold Rushes

Even a brief look at the history of the North shows that if it weren't for gold, there still might not be anybody north of Seattle. The Russians stuck pretty much to the coastline while Alaska