'Ksan Village and Totems in Kispiox

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Aug 25, 2011

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Where I stayed
'Ksan Campground

Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Saturday, July 9, 2011

A morning coffee on the back deck of the ferry, watching the islands go by and the water-based community come to life, was great.  I only wished I had wakened earlier!  Once we landed, we headed straight for the RV Park and within the hour had the car unloaded and the motor-home pointed east.  Once again we had good weather for the trip along Hwy #16, the Yellowhead, and just relaxed and enjoyed.  We were tempted to stop and look around in Terrace but it was too early in our trip and we wanted to get to Hazelton in reasonable time to visit the 'Ksan Village.

The park in Hazelton is great - well kept and easy to access.  That is - once you have crossed the one lane bridge over the gorge!  It really isn't a problem but don't look down!  The host at the park provided us with lots of information about what to see in the area and some coupons - one for the historic BC Cafe in Hazelton - which we used for dinner.  Once we set up, we headed over to the 'Ksan Village for a guided tour of the buildings and the museum.  The tour was well done with a 'sound and light' audio presentation that was complemented by the information and answers to our questions provided by the guide.  We discovered that you are unable to access the interior of the buildings on a self guided tour so it was worth the money to take the guided tour.  The village was started in the 1950's to help preserve their heritage and was moved from downtown in the 60's or 70's in order to have more space.  It is now located near the river with a beautiful view of the mountains.

From the village, we headed into downtown Hazelton to find the Historic BC Cafe where we were told we would find the 'best food in BC'.  The meal didn't disappoint. I was told it was prepared by a 'red seal' chef.  After eating the deep fried ice-cream - the host at the campground is a great salesman - we decided to explore the town on foot.  The buildings have all received a colourful coat of paint and most are in a good state of repair.  Many 'government' offices, the daycare and other essential services, complemented by a few stores, all operate from these buildings.  The waterfront of the Skeena River was only a couple of blocks from the restaurant and what a treat that was.  Throughout the area, standardized signs provide the historical information of buildings and sites so we were able to walk along the boardwalk learning about the fur trade and fishing heritage of the area, the early settlement period and paddle wheelers, the gold rush and the coming of the railway. Don read somewhere that this was all the dream of a woman who was Mayor of the town in the 1950's and 60's and who wanted to create pride of cultural and history within the community.  Part of the riverside park is dedicated to her memory.

One of the maps I had received at the campground indicated a collection of fifteen totem poles in a village to the north of the town.  Thanks to the late evenings in the north, we were able to head to Kispiox, a Gitxsan village, to find these totems.  This village marks the furthest north that Don and I have traveled.  It was much further than we anticipated but it was a great drive. If I am ever back in this area I would love to explore at a more leisurely pace.

Back at the campground we still had enough daylight to follow the path to the river.  What a view of the mountains from the point where the  Buckley River flows into the Skeena. This is beautiful country!
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