This three-day experience retraces the travels of the sternwheelers that navigated the Skeena River from Hazelton to Port Essington in the early 1900s. You will join a small group of 10 guests boarding two jet boats to begin a 300-kilometre journey along the Skeena River, through the coastal mountains before arriving at Port Edward. Much of the time will be spent floating the river without the engines running, allowing you to enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of the river on this trip of a lifetime!
You will eat, sleep and breathe early Skeena River history for three days on the river, while gaining knowledge about the region from a variety of guest speakers and First Nations communities. Historic sights of interest will be visited and discussed as your group navigates through some of the most scenic landscapes in the world. This journey provides photographers with some very unique picture-taking opportunities. You will spend all three nights in accommodations adjacent to the Skeena River.
The tour will commence in the community of Hazelton with a visit to the historic village of Ksan, a living museum of the Gitxsan Aboriginal people. The trip will finish in the Skeena River Estuary where you will explore the history of the north coast canneries and fishing villages. The last two nights will be spent in the historic Cassiar Cannery, a once-thriving salmon cannery recently restored as luxury accommodations. You will complete your journey by retracing the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad route on a return trip to Hazelton by rail.
- Wednesday to Friday
Day 1 - Hazelton to Terrace
The first day of the trip will begin in the community of Hazelton where you will board one of two jet-powered riverboats and begin your voyage down the river towards the ocean. This section of the Skeena was notorious for its navigation hazards and the difficulty it presented for the sternwheelers, but this will not be an issue for our modern-day jet boat transportation. As you journey down the river, your tour guide will highlight many of the stories from this early period of British Columbia’s history and will identify the associated locations.
The tour will be stopping at as many historic sites as possible Including a quick stop at Woodcock, which is home to a crumbling RCAF runway adjacent to the Skeena River. Shortly after this stop, your tour will arrive at the present-day site of Cedarvale, or Meanskinisht, as it was known in the early 1900s.
With so much to visit, the jet boats will power through some of the most well-known rapids with names like ‘Devil’s Elbow,’ ‘Hornet’s Nest,’ and ‘Gig Rapids.’ These rapids were the demise of more than one Skeena River sternwheeler over the years. The remote ghost town of Dorreen will be visited, with one of the part-time residents guiding the group through the scattering of buildings and old vehicles that still remain. Other highlights include Kitselas Canyon and the Usk reaction ferry, before reaching our night’s accommodation at the magnificent Yellow Cedar Lodge on the banks of the Skeena River.
Day 2 - Terrace to Cassiar Cannery
After a hearty breakfast in the lodge, your journey will continue through some of the most scenic sections of the trip as the Skeena River carves its way through the towering, snowcapped, coastal mountains. If water levels permit, you will jet boat up one of the many scenic Skeena River tributaries – some of which are known as “The Most Beautiful Rivers in the World.” This segment of the trip marks the tidal portion of the Skeena River. You will boat by some magnificent scenery on this day as waterfalls cascade down from the glaciers and the vegetation and ecology changes to a coastal variety. You will visit Port Essington which is the site of a salmon cannery that operated in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Highlights here include the eerie moss-covered gravesites in the cemetery and remnants of the historic boardwalk. If the group desires, a stop for a soak in a remote hot spring can be accommodated. The tour will then make its way through the Skeena River estuary before arriving at Cassiar Cannery where you will spend the next two nights.
Day 3 - Skeena Estuary
The last full day on the water will be spent exploring the canneries and fishing communities of the lower Skeena River. The first stop will be the unique fishing community of Osland. The long boardwalk, which is supposedly an extension of Highway 16, and a variety of old fishing boats and cabins will be explored, providing opportunities for photographers to obtain unique photos. The tour will then explore the old cannery locations of Carlisle and Claxton on the south side of the Skeena River. The old pilings, structures, and discarded items will again make for some interesting photography. The day will end with a tour of the North Pacific Cannery Historic Site and then back to the Cassiar Cannery.
Day 4 - Train to Hazelton
Who Should Attend?
If you are an individual looking for a unique, once in a lifetime experience, and you have an interest in the rich history of the Skeena River, then this tour is for you!