Tomorrow was supposed to be a better day weather wise to make the day trip to Prince Rupert on the coast but several things combined to make us go today. We have to move the RV to another campground tomorrow morning so we would not be able to leave as early. Also a rail crossing down the highway is being worked on and they are closing the highway completely from 11 am to 2 pm tomorrow. I wasn’t sure I could get there in time after the move.
The real reason to drive the 130 km to Prince Rupert is the scenery on the way. The highway follows the Skeena River valley to the ocean. There are mountains on either side and the river is so wide that the highway and rail line are crammed on a small shelf on the north side.
When we got up it looked partly cloudy but as soon as we got out of town we ran into thick fog. It would come and go as we moved up and down some hills but did block most of the views. It eventually started to burn off so things got better and better.
There weren’t any pullouts on the narrow scenic sections so most of the pictures are rather hurried and through the bug splattered windshield. We didn’t really capture the scenery very well.
Here are some from on the way back. The clouds were gone but it was now a bit hazy.
Here the highway got squeezed under the cliff. There was a tight turn on the highway around this point and I think they had do it so that the railway corner wasn’t as tight. We could see a lot of rocks that had fallen down and been pushed to the side. I am not sure why they didn’t have nets.
It was definitely worth the drive and the views were good both ways but our pictures are just terrible.
Before we got to Prince Rupert we detoured to nearby Port Edward to the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site. It is a restored salmon cannery from the early 1900’s.
We took a guided tour. There was a long boardwalk that went along the shoreline.
The boardwalk used to extend much father along the shore.
On the outside were all the fish processing plants.
On the shore side were all the living quarters.
It was a VERY segregated place. The First Nations people worked at the north end of the cannery. The men fished and the women mended their nets. Here is an example of their quarters.
Here is a picture of what it used to be like. The guide said about 500 people worked here.
The Japanese people worked at the south end of the cannery. Again the men fished and the women fixed the nets but never the twain shall meet.
The Chinese people did most of the processing and canning and stayed in a huge bunkhouse in the middle. The few Caucasians that worked there stayed in their own much nicer quarters.
It seems that the Chinese and the First Nations people got along just fine because a sign said that the First Nations people started eating a lot of rice and chow mien.
When the cannery first started the Chinese workers had to make the cans by hand using tin snips. They could make about 8 an hour.
Very soon it got much more mechanized as these steam power machines would form the cans.
The cans would then go downstairs to be loaded with fish, sealed and cooked.
Originally the fish would be cleaned and gutted by a crew of Chinese men. This was the slowest part of the operation and held up the rest. 30 men were eventually replaced by this very racist named machine,
This part was a rendering plant to make fish oil. Most of the equipment was gone except for these huge tanks. The piers under them looked so rotten that very soon they are going to fall over.
This is the First Nations net building. The nets were very expensive and actually belonged to the company. They were rented to the fishermen.
The refueling station was far from everything else for obvious reasons.
We stopped in at the office and company store.
After the tour we had lunch at their cafe. Salmon, of course. Very good chowder and fish cakes.
Next we went in to Prince Rupert itself to the supposedly trendy tourist area called Cow Bay. It was about 1 block long and had maybe 10 stores. There wasn’t a lot to see and we didn’t stay long..One interesting thing was this modest yacht tied to the pier. Note the helicopter on the top deck.
There really isn’t much to do in Prince Rupert itself. There were a few museums but we were kind of historied out. The city is mainly a transportation hub. There are the usual wildlife tours. It is the southern end of the Alaska ferries and the northern end of the BC ferries. You also get the ferry to the Queen Charlotte Islands from here.
Finally we did a guide book recommended hike to Butze Rapids which were called a reversing tidal rapids. They change direction at the tide changes. I remember reading somewhere it was best about an hour after low tide. Low tide was about 2 pm. We got to the viewing platform about 3:30.
Needless to say we were a bit disappointed when this was all we saw from the platform.
We also loved how the description said it was only 1800 meters out with a few steep sections. That still adds up to almost 4 kilometers round trip and there were a lot of steep sections. After being on our feet most of the day it was not a fun walk back.
It was not one of our more spectacular days. The scenery on the highway was nice. The cannery was very interesting and made the trip worthwhile. It was the day’s highlight. Prince Rupert and the rapids, we could have skipped.
We also realized that this will be our last view of the ocean on this trip. Inland we go.