Canada is the earth’s second-biggest country and has an endless variety of landscapes. Sky-high mountains, glinting glaciers, spectral rainforests and remote beaches are all here, spread across six times zones. It’s the backdrop for plenty of awe-inspiring moments. The terrain also makes for a fantastic playground – adventures abound and I look forward to my time here.
“Canada has great natural resources, and its people have the spirit and ability to develop them.” – Charles E. Wilson
One thing I noticed is the welcoming friendly people that call Canada home. Canadians seem to want to be friendly and inclusive. This is evidenced by a well known and well used phrase that has been embraced by these friendly folks. “Eh” is used by Canadians mostly at the end of sentences when you want someones opinion or an answer. It seems to indicate inclusiveness, an openness to discourse and can have a moderating effect on strong statements. It opens the conversation looking for a reply “It’s nice here, eh?”, and gives you the sense that your opinion is wanted and valued. This open friendliness is Canada.
“One of the things that I miss about Canada is that even the strangers, you have an immediate rapport, there’s just an understanding that we’re all good people, let’s be nice to each other.” – Evangeline Lilly
Crossing the border was a fairly easy task with only one casualty. After answering all of the Canadian border agent’s questions apparently correctly there was one last observation. I had a fairly large house plant that sits on the dash when I am set up in a campsite but travels on the floor in front of the passenger’s seat when traveling. The agent asked if it was in dirt. Well yes, it was…… I was quickly informed that dirt is not allowed to come into Canada from the US. Not wanting to have to turn the rig around and head back to the US she let me park just past the station (yes in Canada) and walk the plant back to the US (it wasn’t even allowed in the Canadian trash bin). I think the US border agents were entertained when I came walking up to their office looking for a place to dispose of the contraband (remember this was not a small plant!). With the help of the Agriculture specialist (yes they have those) the plant went off to their shop to await a new home in the US. This was all likely for the best as it didn’t seem to happy in it’s moving home as the leaves were slowly browning. Trekking back across the border plantless (and dirtless) I was now allowed into Canada!
Not wanting to travel to far into Canada for my first night I stopped in Fort Steele and checked into the Fort Steele RV Resort with a beautiful view of the Canadian Rockies from my campsite.
With most of the afternoon available, Cory and I took advantage of the beautiful weather to take a hike. Leaving right from the campground and hiking up a dirt road we headed for Wild Horse Creek Historic Site – Location of the 1864 Kootenay Gold Rush. The 9 mile hike gave us a great opportunity to get out and see the country as well as learn about Canadian gold rush history from interpretive panels on the site.
Legend of the Wild Horse
Once upon a time the spirit of the Red Man battled with the spirit of the mountains and in that battle was sorely wounded. As he lay stricken, the spirit of the mountain sowed the floor of what is now the valley of Wild Horse Creek and all the creeks nearby with a yellow gleaming metal. “Mark you” said the spirit of the mountain to his foe as he cast in the last handful, “This will call thither men who will possess your land and enjoy your hunting grounds, and these men will be your masters.” Truly the prophecy came to pass. Over 100 years ago came the Argonauts, who found the gold on the Wild Horse Creek, and discovered that this is a fair and delectable land.
This historic site consists of the remains of the original town of Fisherville, including building remains, cemetery, Chinese burial ground and apple orchard, along with traces of the final section of the Dewdney Trail. The Dewdney Trail was the first all-Canadian route across southern British Columbia, completed in 1865 to access these goldfields on the Wildhorse River.
Wildhorse Creek Historic Site has significant historical importance as the site of the first gold rush in this region. While gold was discovered in the Wildhorse Creek area in 1857, the real rush for gold here did not begin until the spring of 1864. With a population of almost 5,000 in 1865, the substantial mining town of Fisherville offered services including a post office, Gold Commissioner’s office, general stores, saloons, brewery, restaurants and miners’ dwellings. There is very little remaining of the bustling gold mining community.
An interesting aspect of the site is the scientific value showing the changes in mining technology that have occurred over time in this area, from gold panning and pick-and-shovel work to early hydraulic placer mining techniques. These activities resulted in the transformation of the landscape seen in the disturbed topography, displaced rock, eroded canyon slopes and the remains of a three-mile-long aqueduct, the Victoria Ditch, which provided water to hydraulically mine the creek bench. There are still mining claims being worked in the area as evidenced by not only the signs posted along the route but by the gentleman with a pick down by the river.
Next time I am in the area I hope to have the time to visit Fort Steele Heritage Town. This time I had to get on the road the next day as I had reservations at the campground in Banff NP.
Welcome to Canada – I already love it!
“Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world.” – Jack Layton