Monday, June 11, 2018

Thursday June 11, 1998 - Queen of Prince Rupert

Moresby Mountain from Mosquito Lake
Queen of Prince Rupert ferry - sunny and warm

I spent the night at Gray Bay and had a leisurely breakfast in the morning. Two people from forestry, a man and a woman, came by to clean up the site and while they were there I noticed that my truck had a flat tire, probably from the rough driving the day before. The guy helped me change the tire. The spare tire was low on air but the guy seemed to think it would be OK, so I decided not to cut short my trip. I drove the logging roads to Skidegate Lake, Mosquito Lake and Moresby Camp, then back to Sandspit and the ferry terminal.

Roadside deer
Another tiny deer, they're everywhere
There was lots of wildlife: eagles, ravens and the tiny island deer, the size of dogs. Also lots of no-see-ums and black flies. Mosquito Lake is in the middle of Moresby Island and there are no roads south of there. Moresby Mountain is the tallest mountain in Haida Gwaii, you can see it across Mosquito Lake. Moresby Camp is on an inlet from Hecate Strait, the waters between Haida Gwaii and the mainland.

Ocean inlet at Moresby Camp
To see the old Haida sites you have to approach the southern part of the island by boat. My one attempt to see an old Haida village site the day before did not turn out well.

While waiting for the ferry I talked to a kayaker who was just back from two weeks kayaking around South Moresby Island with friends. He was an American from Washington State, but used to live in Nova Scotia on the South Mountain just south of Middleton, "being a hippy". Small world. I got back to the Skidegate ferry terminal on Graham Island around 7.30 pm, had supper at the forestry site just outside of Queen Charlotte City, and then went back to the ferry terminal to wait for boarding the 11 pm ferry to Prince Rupert.

I had booked a cabin so I picked up some free ice for my cooler and went straight to my cabin. I had a nice hot shower and went to bed. In the morning I had a second hot shower ( you just never know when you'll have access to a hot shower again!) and bought breakfast. Then I went below to the truck where Yohan had spent the night and waited to offload. My truck was parked behind a cart and the ferry guys did see it, so they didn't move the cart and I couldn't get off. I had to go talk to them to let them know where my truck was but they thought I was a foot passenger and told me to go back and wait to be told to debark. But finally they moved the cart and I was able to drive off.

I learned a lot about the history of these islands while visiting. The Haida were once a powerful nation that lived on the islands but raided and traded with other nations on the mainland. When European traders first arrived on the west coast from the east, they set up their trading post in Prince Rupert rather than on Haida Gwaii, ostensibly out of respect for the Haida. But Catholic missionary priests did settle in the islands.

Later, during the many gold rushes on the west coast of North America, prospectors came up from the south and explored the islands looking for gold. Haida youth were fascinated by the prospectors stories of the cities of the south and some decided to pack up and move there. Unfortunately they did not do well in the south and many of them returned chastened to the islands. But they brought with them an unwelcome guest, smallpox. The disease spread rapidly and horribly, the Haida population was decimated.

Priests living at the north end of Graham Island in Massett convinced the remaining Haida to move there so the priests could help look after them. So all of the villages of Moresby Island were abandoned. When Emily Carr visited Haida Gwaii, the remaining Haida still lived mostly in Massett. But they used to spend summers visiting their old villages in the south, Carr was able to visit them also with friends she made among the Haida.

In their heyday the Haida were fearsome warriors, taking prisoners to be their slaves back home. Trading among the nations of what is now British Columbia was principally based on the oulichan, a small very oily fish. The oil-rich fish provided light, heat and food. The trading routes were known as the Grease Trails and extended from the Yukon to California, from the Pacific Coast to well past the Rocky Mountains.


Wisewebwoman said...

I'm going to wait till I have more time to peruse your brilliant travelogues. I'm off to NS and NB tomorrow via ferry. So time compressed :)


Rain Trueax said...

There is evidence the PNW traders also traded in Arizona and New Mexico with the goods that could only have gotten there one way. I once wanted to write a romance that would involve a man like that and an Ancient Pueblo woman with the complications that would bring.

Annie said...

For some reason my blog is no longer notifying me of Comments, so I only just noticed your comments today. WWW, I wish you all the best on your trip and hope you will have lots of fun adventures to report when you return! Rain, we know so very little of what went on before Europeans arrived in the Americas, it is so interesting when the hidden history of this place comes to light! It is eye-opening to find out the amazing networks and connections that existed before Europe "discovered" this continent.