Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada

Day 688

Milpost 300

     Fort Nelson, was established in 1805 as a fur-trading post by The Northwest Trading Company. It was named for Horatio Nelson, the British Naval hero of the Battle of Trafalgar. There was never a fort here in the traditional sense, although in 1942 it was used as an airbase during the construction of the Alaska Highway.

     Marl Brown grew up in Delburne, Alberta, Canada, and came north in 1957 to work as a mechanic for the Royal Canadian Army at Mile 245 of the Alaska Highway. He moved to Fort Nelson in 1957. He stayed here, helping to preserve and explain the history of the area. We visited with him in The Fort Nelson Heritage Museum where he shared with us his collection of cars and his experiences with the ALCAN.

Technical Stuff:

Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada: 281.1 miles

6 hours 6 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $1.47 Canadian / liter

The Alaska-Canadian Highway (ALCAN)

DAY 687

     The rest of our RV caravan group has now joined us here in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Mile 0 of The Alaska Highway, also known as the Alaska-Canadian Highway (ALCAN). We are beginning our journey along the entire Highway, to Fairbanks, Alaska. This part of our trek is 1,422 miles and will take us to Delta Junction, Alaska, the end of the ALCAN. It should take us 12 days.

     Their are 19 RV’s and 37 people, plus their animals (dogs & cats). It seems most RV’ers we have met, have animals.

     Each RV is numbered, from biggest to smallest. We are #5.

     There are 3 Class A,

another 5th wheel larger than us, down to the smallest, a Class C.

     Some of the campgrounds we will be staying during the next 12 days are small and primitive. The Assistant Wagon-master, called “The Scout”, will leave before all the other RV’s so that he can arrive at the campground first and organize the parking of the 19 rigs. The numbering tells him our size so that an appropriate place will be waiting for us when we arrive.

     The remaining rigs will leave in groups of 4 or 5, called “pods”. We will leave in 30 minute intervals so that we all don’t arrive at the campground at the same time and overwhelm them. Tomorrow, I will be leaving in the last “pod” so that all the smaller RV’s can be parked first, as the “big” sites are on the perimeter. This varies by campground. 

     It will be interesting to see how we will function, as some of these primitive sites have no sewer hookups, and only 15 amp electric. We are a 50 amp unit. I have converter plugs so we can hookup to the 15 amp. Barbara will have to give up some of her conveniences, curling iron, hair dryer, microwave.

Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Canada

Day 686

     Since we are in the Canadian Rockies, and the snow on the mountains are now melting, we wanted to see some waterfalls. We went to the area known as Tumbler Ridge, named by explorer Edmund Spieker in 1920. We hiked for about 2 hours

to find Quality Falls.

     Wanting to see larger falls, we drove 40 more miles to find Kinuseo Falls, on the Murray River. Kinuseo means ‘fish’ in the Cree Indian language, owing to the great numbers of trout both above and below the falls.

     We saw no fish. Barbara did taste the water for fish poop.None.

     The locals say the falls is over 200 feet tall (70 meters), and therefore taller than Niagara Falls (50 meters), although the volume of water is less. They must be doing the metric conversion wrong, as it did not appear to me taller than Niagara Falls.  Or, maybe they are referring to the Canadian side of Niagara.

     During our drive, we passed through a turbine windmill farm.

     Upon making a wrong turn, we ended up at the transfer station where they had stored replacement blades for the windmills.

     When we measured their length, it came to 200 feet. That is as high as Kinuseo Falls.

 

Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada

Day 683

Milepost 0

     Continuing our travels through the Canadian Rockies

we arrive at Dawson Creek, British Columbia. So far, this has been our longest drive pulling the Sphinx, 328 miles in just under 8 hours. 

     Dawson Creek derives its name from the creek of the same name that runs through the community. The creek was named after George Mercer Dawson by a member of his land survey team when they passed through the area in August 1879. George Mercer Dawson was born August 1, 1849 in Pictou, Nova Scotia and was a Canadian geologist and surveyor, who gained notoriety for mapping western Canada. Dawson Creek was incorporated on May 28 1921.

     Dawson Creek is most noted as the starting point of the Alaska Highway. 

     The Alaska Highway, also known as The Alaska-Canadian Highway, or ALCAN, was constructed as an American military road during World War II for the purpose of connecting the contiguous United States to Alaska. It begins at the junction of several Canadian highways in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, about 1700 miles. The start of construction took place on March 9, 1942 and was completed 8 months later on October 28, 1942. Since The Alaska Highway was built for American military purposes, the distance markers are in miles and not kilometers.

     Over the last 76 years, the ALCAN had been modified and improved. In Canada, each community in which the ALCAN passes is responsible for maintenance, and most have modified the original road to reroute and straightened out numerous sections to make the road more convenient for modern travel. This has resulted in the shortening of the overall length of the road by about 300 miles.

     One of the last vestiges of the original road is at Milepost 21, just outside of Dawson Creek. A bridge was needed to cross the Kiskatinaw River.  Kiskatinaw is Cree for “river with steep banks”.

     Of 133 bridges, the Kiskatinaw Bridge is the last wooden bridge left from the original construction of the ALCAN. This three-span timber truss bridge has an amazing nine-degree curve – a curve that engineers designed to accommodate the highway’s steep change in grade on the west end, and the need to land at a notch in the cliff on the east end. At the time, it was the first wooden curved bridge to be built in Canada.

     The Kiskatinaw Bridge was bypassed in 1978 as it could not support modern trucking. 

     Barbara thinks the surveyors may have made a mistake. 

     Food for Thought:

Technical Stuff:

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada: 328.5 miles

7 hours 55 minutes

10.3 MPG

Diesel: $1.28 Canadian/per liter

Jasper National Park, Canada

Day 681

     We traversed the Canadian Rockies on the Trans-Canada Highway (this highway travels through all ten provinces of Canada from the Atlantic Ocean on the East to the Pacific on the West). With spring arriving, water was pouring down the mountains.

     Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, located in the province of Alberta, the park includes the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield. The Columbia Icefield is the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains, located astride the Continental Divide along the border of Alberta and British Columbia

     An ice field is an expansive area of interconnected glaciers found in a mountain region.

     Jasper Hawes, orginally from Missouri, came to this area around 1817 from Montreal on a contract as a clerk and operator of a trading post here for the North West Company, a competitor of the Hudson Bay Company. The area around his trading station was named Jasper, after him. The park was established on September 14, 1907 as Jasper Forest Park, and was granted National Park status in 1930, with the passing of the National Parks Act.

     Our truck effortlessly pulled the 8 ton Sphinx over the Canadian Rockies.

     We are staying in the Jasper National Park. The first thing we had to do was chase the wildlife off our site.

     We took a bus tour to the Glaciers and the Columbia Ice-fields. The neat thing about this bus, it had a front mounted camera with a video display at your seat, therefore not only could you see the view out your side window, but also from the front of the bus.

     This peak is part of the Continental Divide. This is the only Continental Divide in the World where the water goes to three oceans, West to Pacific, East to Atlantic, and North to the Arctic Ocean.

     The Athabasca River originates from the Columbia Glacier of the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park. The river was swollen with Glacier melt, which made an impressive water falls.

     The Glaciers are receding.

     We took an Ice Explorer out onto the glacier

     Which allowed us to walk on the glacier:

     Went on the Glacier Skywalk, a glass bottom walkway over the Sunwapta Valley and River. This is where the glacial waters begin their long journey to the Arctic Ocean. Unlike the glass walk at the Grand Canyon, you can wear your own shoes, and they let you take your camera.

     Can’t be afraid of heights.

Technical Stuff:

Banff, Alberta, Canada to Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada: 182.1 miles

4 hours 25 minutes

10.2 MPG

Diesel: $1.41 Canadian per liter

Banff, Alberta, Canada

Day 679

  

     In 1882, the Canadian Pacific Railway was building the transcontinental railway through the Bow Valley in this newly acquired territory of the new Canadian Nation. 

     Bow Valley is a valley located along the upper Bow River in what is now Alberta, Canada. The name “Bow” refers to the reeds that grew along its banks and which were used by the local Indians to make bows. The Peigan Indian name for the river is “Makhabn”, meaning “river where bow weeds grow”

     Three Canadian Pacific Railway workers stumbled upon a series of natural hot springs in 1883 here and wanted to develop it for commercial application. After much controversy and debate, the Canadian Government claimed the area as it’s First National Park. The area became popular with tourists because of these springs and easy access by the new railroad. This resulted with the city of Banff being settled in 1886.   

      The area was named Banff by George Stephen, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, recalling his birthplace in Banff, Scotland. The Canadian Pacific built a series of grand hotels along the rail line and advertised the Banff Springs Hotel as an international tourist resort.

   

     We went to The Cave and Basin and viewed the hot springs. The 3 railway workers first notice the hot springs by the smell of sulphur coming out of this cave hole.

     For years people came to this pool, called the Basin, to enjoy its warm, mineral-rich spring-fed water. They were drawn here to soothe aching joints, or to dive and swim in its bubbling depths. 

     Bathers loved the Basin for its year-round warm waters, and beautiful color, preferring it over the dark and sulfurous Cave pool.

     Due to high bacterial counts, the Basin was closed to bathers in 1971.

     We hiked along the Bow River.

     Two miles down, the tranquil river becomes raging rapids

     We portered around the rapids a 1/4 mile

     to the water falls.

     We also stopped at the Royal Sewer:Technical Stuff:

Calgary, AB, Canada to Banff, AB, Canada: 71.4 Miles

2 hours 3 minutes

8.9 MPG

Diesel: $124.4/liter Canadian 

Fort Calgary, Canada

Day 677

     Fort Calgary, originally called Fort Brisebois, was established on April 10, 1875  by the North-West Mounted Police, located at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers in what is now Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

      The Canadian government created the North West Mounted Police in 1873 as a para-military police force that would establish Canadian Sovereignty, put a stop to the whiskey trade, and befriend the Indians in preparation for the treaties that would open the land for settlement. “F” Troop, under the leadership of Inspector Éphrem Brisebois, travelled to the Bow and Elbow Rivers to establish an outpost part way between Fort Macleod (see day 673) and Fort Edmonton. 

     Éphrem A. Brisebois was born March 7, 1850 in South Durham, Canada East, now part of Quebec. He initially named the Fort after himself. He was despised by his men, and was replaced in 1876. The Fort was renamed Fort Calgary by Colonel James F. Macleod, after Calgary House, a castle at Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. The name of this area by the Indians was Moh’kinsstis, or Elbow.

     Between 1876 and 1914 the Fort grew into Calgary Barracks and became the center of a flourishing community that ultimately became the City of Calgary.  

     But then the railroad cameDay 677 Ft Calgary Alberta, Canada 0846_Fotor_Fotor

     The land had been settled, treaties made with the Indians, and the Fort was no longer needed. In 1914, Fort Calgary was sold to the Grant Trunk Pacific Railway for use as a rail terminal. They demolished all the fort buildings. No trace of the Fort now exists, just this empty lot. 

     Standing on the site of what use to be the Fort, you can see the Bow River.

     Turn 180 degrees, what use to be the open prairie for miles and miles, is now the city of Calgary. 

     Looking up to what use to be hundreds of geese and birds, you now see