Prince Rupert turned out to be a mixed bag of experiences and thoughts. The town is very unfriendly for any vehicles larger than a full size van. This means it was very difficult for us with our large Bus and Jeep to get around town. Additionally, there really is no place for most RVers to stay inside the town. The one and only RV Park would have been $60 per night to stay at if we had chosen to do so. This $60 would have gotten us a very narrow gravel parking pad with just enough space between us and the next spot over to walk between the spaces. The spot we would have been stuck with also backed right up to the road and its associated noise. Not our idea of a good place to stay and especially not at $60 per night. They were the only game in town and appeared to be able to charge that rate and get people to stay. Not us.
We ended up staying at a Provincial Park called Prudhomme Park, which was about 20 miles east of Prince Rupert. Here too we were pretty close to the highway, but had much more privacy and most importantly the cost was just $20 a night. There were really no other options for overnight parking in the area. With the sun setting around 8:15PM and the benefit of dense tree cover in the campground we had our first truly VERY DARK nights in a long time. We rested well. The dense tree cover was not good for our solar panels, but it turned out to not matter since it rained most of the time we were in the area. It is a temperate rainforest after all!
We spent two full days in and around Prince Rupert. One of the highlights was our stop at the North Pacific Cannery Historic Site. The historic site preserves many of the original buildings with most in amazing condition for their age. The tour of the site is designed to give visitors a small idea of what life was like for those living and working at the cannery in its heyday. We walked away from our visit with a much deeper understanding of the commercial importance Salmon has played in the past and continues to even to the present time. The lady giving us the tour is a Canadian First Nations person. She took obvious pride in the role her ancestors played in working at the cannery. It was nice to see pride and joy associated with history for a First Nations Person!
These were the houses for the executives of the cannery and their families when they came to stay with their husbands during the summer months. They lived in MUCH greater comfort than the ordinary workers.
The cannery is actually located about four miles or so to the south of Port Edward, which is about 15 miles or so south of Prince Rupert. Between Port Edward and Prince Rupert is the commercial shipping port facility on Ridley Island. One of the interesting historical tidbits we learned is about a man named Charles Hays. Mr. Hays happened to be a very wealthy and influential businessman who saw the possibility of turning the Prince Rupert area into THE commercial shipping port between North America and Asia around 1910. There were three primary factors he saw enabling this to happen: the location meant shipping times are up to two and a half days less than shipping to Los Angeles, the Canadian National Railroad was perfectly placed to ship all this container traffic to any destination in North America quickly and efficiently, and the local geography has created a very deep naturally protected harbor able to handle the largest of ships. Unfortunately for Prince Rupert, Charles Hays perished on the Titanic while returning from a fund raising trip to Europe. While it took many decades more to happen than it might have if Mr. Hayes had lived, today the port on Ripley Island has been turned into an impressive high speed commercial container port capable of handling the largest ships in the world. We tried to go see the port facility, but were prevented from doing so due to lack of visitor services on the island. This was surprising given the amount of space dedicated to the port and the importance of it to the area in the visitor center. You can learn more about the history of Prince Rupert here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Rupert,_British_Columbia.
One of the things we enjoy doing while visiting a coastal town is walking the docks. We enjoy looking at all the different types of working and pleasure craft. We always make a point to look over any sailboat we can find. We also enjoy looking at the interesting marine life as well. Harbor Seals, sea anemones, and salmon fry are all new and fun to see. While walking the docks we also get to meet and chat with people we never would otherwise. For instance, we met a young man who built an ocean kayak early this summer from a kit. He is from Washington State and was making his way up the coast to Ketchikan, AK where he planned to end his journey. We happened to run into him while he was stopping for groceries and an overnight stay in the area before heading on for the final 6 – 7 day journey up to Ketchikan. We also met a couple on board their Fred Wahls designed ~65’ wooden boat who worked their boat chartering during the summer and lived aboard over winter in the Vancouver area. Each story we heard was as diverse and unique as the individuals themselves.
We also enjoyed our visit to the tiny kitchen sized Fire Museum. The main attraction was the restoration of the original 1925 R.E.O. Speedwagon fire engine also carrying the distinction of being the first truck with air filled rubber tires on the island.
The Sunken Gardens were also pretty. The Sunken Gardens are maintained in what had been planned to be the city’s courthouse before politics got in the way and the courthouse was moved further south (about ½ a block).
Also keeping in theme with the coastal community we stopped in at the local fresh fish market. Dolly’s Fish Market has been a fixture in Prince Rupert for many decades and continues to serve the sport fisherman and tourist market. We took the opportunity to purchase some scallops, cold smoked salmon and candied salmon. We sautéed the scallops in a butter and garlic mixture until just slightly cooked alongside an accompaniment of broccoli. Excellent!
We were able to take a couple of hikes while in the area including a hike down to the Butze Rapids (http://www.northbceh.com/rupert/parks/butze.htm). The Butze Rapids are a constricted shallow area where the changing tide is forced to rapidly run through a narrow channel. Unfortunately for us the rapids are best viewed about one hour after a monthly low tide. The daily low tides generally do not produce much of a rapid effect, although one can see the water flowing quickly through the narrow channels. Since we did not arrive at the monthly “super” low tide we missed out on the full effect of the rapids. The hike itself was lovely with plenty of giant Hemlock and Spruce trees to enthrall us as well as a sighting of a super large slug!
At the rapid overlook observation deck we met a woman from Germany. Sandra is on a yearlong work/tourist visa whereby she is allowed to work in Canada and tour the countryside for up to one year. While hiking back together to the parking lot we learned of her work/tourist visit to Canada and an earlier one to Australia and a prior one in New Zealand. We were left with the impression she has done this sort of working visit to other countries many times in the past. We really enjoyed meeting her and learning of her journeys. We enjoyed recounting our shared memories of our time in Alaska since she had recently been to many of the areas we had also visited. Just like us, she had also come up short on fishing grizzly bears. At least we aren’t the only ones sad about not seeing grizzly bears where they are “supposed” to be.
Check out the view from the top of Mount Hayes, which overlooks and shadows over Prince Rupert:
On Sunday (8/28) we departed from Prudhomme Provincial Park and headed east on the Yellowhead Highway towards Prince George. About an hour and a half later we arrived in the city of Terrace, BC. We took an extended stop so Hilary could use the sauna and hot tubs in the city’s aquatic center. We were hoping an extended soak in the hot tub and sweating time in the sauna would help to reduce her muscle pain and muscle spasms.
Monday afternoon we arrived in Prince George after out driving the advancing rain front. During the mid-afternoon hours we had some sunshine (yes!) and then later in the evening it started raining again (no!). We completed our chores we needed to accomplish while in town by mid-evening and settled in at “Camp Wal-Mart”. We have a really good connection to Wal-Mart’s WiFi and enjoyed an evening catching up on a bunch of You-Tube video blogs (vlogs) we had missed over the prior weeks.
Tuesday has been a day of leisure. We drove down and walked along the Heritage Trail system along Prince George’s Fraser River front and toured some of the preserved buildings in their Heritage Park. This afternoon I hope to get this blog uploaded along with some pictures bringing the blog up to date with our travels. Hannah is out on a run/walk getting some much needed alone time while Hilary is reading and Breann is working on a book report of The Accidental Voyage by Douglas Bond.
Concrete debris down by the Fraser River:
Next up for us is to continue south towards Kamloops via Highway 16 and 5. We picked the eastern route down along the Canadian Rockies versus the shorter route south on Highway 97 to be nearer to the mountains! Route map We will likely not drive the entire way in one day.
- Sunday, 8/28: 244 (Houston, BC)
- Monday, 8/29: 191 (Prince George, BC)