[MacIvor Crest] Crest of Clan MacIvor

Chapter XIII


This same old Telegraph Trail was one of the routes or, as it was called, the Overland Trail to the Klondike, which proved a bitter pill to those who tried it. It was as year or perhaps two years before I was there and the remains were still in evidence of pack horses, pack saddles, bones of horses and discarded things which they had to leave when rain made the going too bad or when the horses died, ore, as often happened, ran away with pack and all. The Indians reaped a fine harvest of horses, all kinds of provisions, guns, revolvers and things too numerous to mention. On the trees were written tales of woe, also curses on the newspapers which boomed the great "overland route" to the Klondike. Many of these people, a great many from the States, when they reached the Skeena River went down it and away home; some toiled on all summer and in the fall, fagged out, broken in body and spirit, when they reached the Stickem River, they turned their faces to God's country with more wisdom than gold.

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.

Return Trip

About the second of October, winter coming on, ground freezing, we were compelled to stop work. I forgot to say we had a telegraph operator along with the outfit and every evening we got news from the outside world. It seemed strange, hundreds of miles from civilization and we got news from South Africa, which was during the Boer War and the Boxer troubles in China, so we were not so bad off at all. As I started to tell, we turned back, had to shoot several mules and horses of our pack train to put them out of their misery. We had to walk back to Hazelton, about 150 miles, and did it in nine days.

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.

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