I do not believe, of the many men, and some women, who started from Ashcroft up the old Caribou road to Tuesnel and on the overland trail, that one ever got through to the Klondike.
There were two boats running on the Skeena River, but neither of them were at Hazelton and after waiting some days and no steamboat arrived, and unable to find out when they would be up, the manager, Mr. Trodden, hired two canoes with captains and crews to take us to Port Essington, at the mouth of the river, a distance of 150 miles. It is a dangerous river and many accidents happen going through the rapids, but the canoes were large and would carry thirty or forty people. Our outfit was getting small now, only about twenty white men with cooking outfit and supplies. None of us had much luggage except our blankets.
So, we bid good-bye to Hazelton, loaded up the canoes and started. Going through the canyon was the most exciting and dangerous part of the trip. The river rushes through perpendicular walls on either side, being, I think, not more than fifty feet between the walls and dangerous rocks showing their heads above the boiling waters. It was just like a great big mill-race. Boats and canoes coming up through the rapids had to be warped up. There were several Indian villages along the river. When going through the rapids everyone had to take a paddle and chanting an Indian "shanty" we all paddled for dear life. The Indian captain said the more way on the canoe the less danger. We got through safely and you bet we all breathed easier.
The captain in each canoe stood up and steered with a long oar called a sweep. We were soon in smooth water and the river widened out. We raised sail and arrived at Port Essington in two days and a half, or 21 hours actual moving. The river here is two miles wide. We were lucky in finding a steamer, The Alpha, at Port Essington. She was gathering up the fall or season's catch of salmon. There are factories all around the coast and the greatest salmon fisheries in the world are on this coast.