Yet more bad weather encouraged us to make good progress from Stewart up Bear River to Meziadin Junction where another salmon ladder was advertised as a good place to see bears and eagles. This is part of a native salmon fishing operation and the ladder gave us the opportunity to see salmon leaping but no bears or eagles.
The area has small hamlets offering coffee and has many examples of the local 1st nation totem poles. They tell a story of the particular clan in the area and are carved from single ancient cedar trees.
Staying overnight in the unremarkable town of Terrace we continued along the Skeena River, taking in the scale of the river. The photos illustrate precisely why it was so-named
A stop at Port Edward and the North Pacific Cannery proved to be unexpectedly interesting, especially since most of the canned salmon was shipped to the UK with production only stopping in the late 1960s. Rivers such as the Skeena experience huge volumes of salmon returning to spawn and so were netted, chopped up, stuffed into cans (sealed with lead..), cooked and labelled, with the help of local labour. When the cannery was established, working practices weren’t as equitable as today and tended to vary with ethnic origin. As a result local peoples were treated very badly, with terrible working conditions and discriminatory pay. There was no schooling for 1st Nation children until the appalling era when they were sent to residential schools, given western names and were taught only in English (this is another story too complex to talk about here), so the mothers had to either carry them around or set them to work. The next level in this scenario were Chinese and Japanese workers who were treated marginally better until WW2 broke out and then the Japanese (irrelevant of their legal status) were given 2 days on average to pack 1 suitcase and either be interred in camps or sent back to Japan. Some chose never to return. European women were given the office jobs as being the only race that could be trusted.
Our hotel, the Crest, overlooked Prince Rupert Harbour and the view from the elevated rooms was spectacular
There are a few walks around town, one of which, the Rushbrook Trail, passes along the temperate rain forest round the bay to where the sea planes take-off. The intermittent showers provided extra guidance for Helen in her quest for gold..
Finally the weather started to improve and it was possible to do the Butze Rapids Trail, a trek through the rain forest to viewpoints over the sea
Our stay in Prince Rupert was over. We had intended to use the 3 days to go on some wildlife trips, perhaps some fishing or even sail over to Haida Gwaii but Prince Rupert had effectively closed down for the winter and there were no trips available. Our next step was to move to Vancouver Island, by ferry from Prince Rupert, a 16 hour trip down the Inside Passage, a route which weaves its way between the islands which adorn the coastline. Before we left, the sun put in an appearance.
Next stop Port Hardy arriving at midnight!