middle is a photo of the remains of Pan Phillips' first cabin
built in the Chilcotin. For some of the most 'interesting'
reading you will ever do about the West Chilcotin, check out Rich
Hobson's three books about himself and the famous,
or according to some locals, the infamous Pan Phillips. Start
with the first book, 'Grass Beyond the Mountains' for one
the best stories going. If you would like some excerpts on these
stories, start with Wilderness
Adventures Oct 3
of the Wilderness Adventures articles which gives a few little
tidbits on what these two men were up to. Wilderness
Adventures Feb 2 , Wilderness
Adventures Feb 3 , and
Adventures Feb 4 continue
the story. Just
don't forget to start at the bottom of each web page and work
your way to the top according to the dates
so that you get them in order. More than one family has been lured
to the Chilcotin because of those books, including
mine! Some of the longest, most brutal, and famous cattle drives
in Canadian history had these two men behind them.
"The Freedom Highway" was so named to commemorate Bella
Coola's inclusion with the rest of British Columbia by
road - or by two ruts - as most described it.
The government refused to help build an overland route from Bella
to Anahim Lake where Highway 20 continued to Williams Lake. Locals
got together with $250, dynamite, equipment and
two years of sheer determination and backbreaking work to build
a road up the rock face of mountains in the Coast Range.
On September 26, 1953, the catskinner from Bella Coola touched
the blade of his cat to that of the cat driver moving the
last of the boulders out of the way from Anahim Lake above.
It still took 10 hours to drive the 90 miles from the port of
Bella Coola to Anahim Lake but it was enough to convince the government
that it could be done, and they took over
road improvements in 1955. It is still an 'interesting' drive
and the steepest highway in Canada with an 18% grade.
Some of you, depending on age group, may have read 'Crusoe of
Lonesome Lake' in grade school - about a man named
Ralph Edwards who frontiered Lonesome Lake in 1912 and lived in
the wilderness for over 40 years. He is credited with
nearly single handedly bringing back the Trumpeter Swan from extinction.
The old homestead in which his son still lived
was burned out by the largest forest fire in BC in 2004. His son
John has moved back to the valley and will rebuild.
Steve Dowling replaced the old Hudson Bay's property in Anahim
Lake with a General Store in 1938. 'Chilcotin - Preserving
Pioneer Memories' carries an exerpt where Steve describes some
of the horrendous trips involved in stocking the store.
Steve who was also a rodeo enthusiast along with a few others,
was behind the first Anahim Lake Stampede in June 1938,
which is still an annual event and well known in its own right.
Mclean's Trading (shown below) operated by John Mclean has said
he would be more than happy to answer
questions about the area and some of its history and help visitors
out with directions if you would like to call (250) 742-3266.
The area has a long, colorful history that can only be touched
Holding your mouse over each image will give its description,
however, for now this only works in Explorer.