The Mystery Behind The Cariboo Gold Rush


The high expectations of finding gold and becoming rich was a condition that accelerated into what is known as “gold fever,” for many ambitious men and some women. This type of thinking set the scene for greed, skullduggery and even murder for a chance at untold wealth. The mystery behind the Cariboo Gold Rush is found in the Lost Lemon Mine. This tale has some twists which some have attempted to explain, but it is filled with questions that are left unanswered.

History of the Cariboo Gold Rush


The Cariboo Gold Rush was one of the largest in the British Columbia Colony. Rumors began in the late 1850s, that gold was found in the area. In 1859 and 1860, strikes were confirmed and this is what began the large influx of people out to make their fortune. The year 1861 turned the tiny Fort Victoria with scarcely 500 residents into a booming metropolis with over 20,000. The mystery of the Cariboo Gold Rush began with chief Hudson’s Bay trader Donald McLean. He came upon an Indian man who traded 800 ounces of gold dust for goods. The dust was sent to the San Francisco Mint to be made into coin. When James Moore heard of the trade, he gathered together prospectors to set out into the Yale area to begin prospecting. Within a short amount of tiime, they pulled massive amounts of placer gold from the Fraser’s River in excess of $2 million dollars, or $35 million in today’s market.

Lost Lemon Mine: The Creation of the Legend

Legends and mysteries are created by stories that have been told, retold and passed down through several years’ time. The stories may change, being embellished by the tellers. Their accuracy is not known but by reviewing each, it is possible to construct the most likely scenario of events that happened and find an approximate location for where the events took place.

The story of Lafayette French

In 1946, Senator Daniel Edward Riley retold the story of his friend and employee, Lafayette French’s version of the Lost Lemon Mine. Lafeyette French traded with the Indians at the Highwood River and Blackfoot Crossing aeras. He partnered with Orville Hawkins Smith to become one of the first predominant ranchers in Alberta. Before this achievement, he was a prospector in the British Columbian Rockies. In 1870, French set out on a prospectingn trip and met up with Blackjack, the man who first discovered gold in the famous Cariboo Gold Rush in British Columbia. Blackjack’s partner was Lemon. Blackjack and Lemon had no luck in their prospecting and set out on a Blackfoot Indian trail to return to Tobacco Plains. The two accompanied a group of half breed men for protection. As they reached a jamor confluence, the pair began panning and their venture paid off. They traced the source back to a rock ledge that was heavy with gold. The area was in the Crowsnest Pass area located in the High River or Elk Valley areas. The two got into an argument that evening over which course of action they should take. The argument became physical and after some fighting, Blackjack fell asleep. While he was sleeping, Lemon killed Blackjack with an axe. Panic gripped Lemon as he decided to leave the camp first thing in the morning. Lemon waited for dawn to arrive and as he did, he bagan to hear strange noises from the fire. Moans and wailing sounds convinced Lemon that Blackjack was haunting him. The event caused Lemon to go insane. What Lemon didn’t realize is that there were two Indian braves watching him and they were the ones making the noises to torment him.

Lemon left the next morning and the braves, William and David Bendow retold the story to their chief, Joseph Bearspaw. The chief ordered them to keep the story secret. Lemon made it back to Tobacco Plains and confessed his deed to the local priest. The priest sent a Metis to the area Lemon described to bury the remains of Blackjack and place a headstone over the grave. Bearspaw had braves watching the area and as soon as the Metis left, all evidence of the prospector and mountain man’s presence was gotten rid of. Lemon returned to the spot the next spring, with a group of mnors, but he could not find the spot. Lemon’s journey into insanity made a violent lunge as he was restrained and returned to his brother’s home in Texas where he lived out the rest of his life.

The priest arranged to make an expedition to the site with John McDougall, the Metis and only person who knew the location of the mine. While en route to meet McDougall, the location of the mine was forever lost because John drank himself to death. The priest tried to find the location himself with another party, but previous fires made it impossible to access. Lafayette French enquired about the location of the mine from the priest and spend the next 30 years searching without any luck. French believed that there was an Indian curse placed on anyone who came too close to finding the mine.

William Bendow agreed to lead French to teh locatioon of the mine in 1912. The evening before the expedition was set to get underway, Bendow died without explanation. Stoney Indians believed that revealing this tribal secret was the cause of death. As the band brought Bendow’s body back for burial, Bendow’s son in law died in the same mysterious way. French had gotten the location from Bendow before his death. The night prior to his launch into the expedition, his cabin burned and French barely escaped with his life. He was badly burned and later passed away from his injuries. He agreed to disclose the full story to Riley in the morning, but French passed away before he could tell the exact location.

Wild Horse Creek Story

Lemon and Blackjack were unsuccessful at prospecting so the two began robbing and murdering prospectors to steal their gold. When posses were formed to catch them, they ran to the mountains to hide. A party of Stoney Indians found Lemon wandering around in the Highwood River area and his partner Blackjack was lyind dead at camp with a bullet in his back. Lemon said that a group of Blackfeet had killed his partner in an ambush. The Stoneys did not believe him. Lemon used gold nuggets to trade the Indians for goods to return back to Montana. The story was handed down to a group of prospectors who believed that Lemon hid the gold and was unable to relocate it although he had made several different trips back.

King Bearspaw Story

Jacob Bearspaw sought to find the gold with well driller Jack Hagerman. They began the 70 year search in 1921. The two found a small amount of gold dust, but did not hit the mother lode. Bearspaw was believed to be the last person who had knowledge of the secret location which was passed down through his ancestors. He passed away in 1979 and took his secret knowledge to the grave with him.

The Mystery of the Cariboo Gold Rush Continues

The Legend of the Lost Lemon Mine consists of several different versions of the story that have been passed down over the years. Which, if any are true has not yet been determined. The one thing that analysts agree upon is that there is still a lost mother lode bearing gold mine, somewhere in the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies, waiting to be rediscovered.

The Stl’atl’imx People* (Lillooet, Nequatque & In-SHUCK-ch First Nations)


This section makes no attempt to tell the St’at’imc story of the Creation and account their own cycle of events, which hopefully someone may create a webpage about someday but that is not this site’s purpose.  The mythical-era history referred to here is all of what might be known or conjectured about the history of the St’at’imc peoples up to the time of “Contact”, either known archaeologically, geologically or interpolated – guessed at – by references in certain St’at’imc legends.  Mythographical history is only educated guesswork so anything said here must be discounted as entirely conjectural.  There is no linear context to what little is known of “the time before time”, only fragments as described (or speculated upon) herein.

Lower St’at’imc here refers to the current Lil’wat and In-SHUCK-ch governments/historical chieftaincies and associated communities, Upper St’at’imc to the Fraser River Lillooet.  Lakes Lillooet will refer to the St’at’imc whose dewscendants are the Seton Lake Band and Nequatque (D’arcy/Anderson Lake) First Nation.
  • The Lower St’at’imc myth of the Great Flood  says that all the people lived around Green Lake (in today’s Whistler Resort Municipality) in the age before the Great Flood.  When great rains began and the rivers and lakes began to rise, a man named Ntanenkin, who had built a great canoe, was begged by the people to take the children, which he did, floating on the waters with the children of the St’at’imc to the level of the peaks.  When the waters receded they found themselves lodged in the high crack in the peak known as “Split” – Neskato (In-SHUCK-ch Mountain today and in Douglas Trail times as Gunsight Peak).  After the flood they made there home near where Ska’tin (Skookumchuck Hot Springs) is today at the south end of Liittle Lillooet Lake.  All the peoples of the Lower Lillooet are descended from Ntanenkin and his descendants and those of the rescued children, and they spread up and down the Lillooet River from Samahquam and Douglas to Pemberton Meadows, and up the Birkenhead River to Owl Creek and Birkenhead Lake and elsewhere in the area.
The Lillooet River today is green and fertile and warm relative to the fierce alpine of the mountains surrounding it, but in ages past it was filled with a huge glacier which at its greatest extent merged with the great Fraser glacier south of what is today Harrison Lake.  When the ice withdrew, which in this area it must be remembered may be accompanied by torrentially warm rains or volcanic and tectonic events (or, conceivably, all three), the sudden melting of the Lillooet Glacier back up the long trench from Lillooet Lake to today’s glacial till at Silt Lake, 70 miles northwest of Pemberton could easily have triggered massive floods.  Flooding in the same area in the late 1990s  generated massive temporary waterfalls and torrents of gigantic size due to sudden snowpack melt from heavy rain – without any appreciable difference in the size of the Ipsoot and Pemberton Icefields.  An Ice Age-ending flood, conceivably could have filled the valley of Wedge Pass, southeast from Green Lake to Little Lillooet Lake, and when the waters subsided there would have been a totally new landscape, previously under the crushing weight of the ice, or inundated by the ancient lake which once stretched all the way back up to Pemberton Meadows but which has by today silted in (as it continues to do east of Mount Currie).  Whatever Green Lake’s climate was in Ice Age times it could not have been more amenable than the warmer and drier valley of the Lillooet.  St’at’imc people continued to live, hunt and trap in the area of Alta and Green Lakes and Callaghan Creek until the building of the railway, and it remains part of their traditional-lands claim.  Despite the usual line that the First Nations people have been here “since time immemorial”, glaciological history indicates that human time must begin with the withdrawal of the ice.  Concurrently, the same must apply to Green Lake, although the legend at least indicates that it was ice-free before the huge riverine glaciers (or their outflow lakes) withdrew.
  • Native legend of the Lil’wat subgroup of the St’at’imc tells of a girl named Chinook-Wind, who married Glacier, and moved to his country, which was in the area of today’s Birkenhead River. She pined for her warm sea-home in the southwest, and sent a message to her people. They came to her in a vision in the form of snowflakes, and told her they were coming to get her. They came in great number and quarrelled with Glacier over her, but they overwhelmed him and she went home with them in the end to her warm country by the sea.While on the one hand tells a tribal family-relations story, and family/tribal history as well, the tale also seems to be a parable of a typical weather pattern of a southwesterly at first bringing snow, then rain, and also of the melting of a glacier, perhaps the Place Glacier near Birken Lake or the once-great Birkenhead River glacier 10,000 years ago, when most of this region was icefield, and so also tells of a migration of people to the area, (or a war, depending on how the details of the legend might be read, with Chinook-Wind taking the part of Helen in a First Nations parallel to the Trojan War).  It also suggests that the coastal-montane romantic relatinship and associated tribal dispute may have occurred at the time of the withdrawal of the Place Glacier.  The source specifies the Place Glacier over the more ancient Birkenhead and Birken-Gates (Seton) Glaciers which would have receded long before the Place, which is the only named glacier in the Cayoosh Range.
  • In ancient times the people of Seton and Anderson Lakes were mountain goats, sheep and deer that could take the shape of humans, and could leap from mountainside to mountainside across the valley, “and the mountains were closer to each other in those days”.  Today’s Seton Lake Band are often members of the Crane clan.  Prominent historical clans at Lillooet included the Crane and the Frog as well as the Bear.  A reference to the Deer people living over the mountain to the north, in the valley of the Bridge River in four large underground houses may refer either to a supernatural Deer people or to a lost Deer clan.
  • The great slide which formed Seton Portage, splitting a proto-Seton Lake in two, occurred some time between 8,000 and 20,000 years ago.  The Lillooet area was already ice-free in this era, although the Lillooet and Birkenhead Rivers probably were not.  The mountainside may have been unstable because of the steep grades carved the ancient Seton Glacier, which had its origins around Mount Birkenhead and a common col with the Birkenhead Glacier, in long ages past.  Without the ice to support it a combination of the elements, time and the instablity’s own weight plunged it into “proto-Seton Lake”.  The impact wave or megatsunami created by such an event is now known to be on the order of thousands of feet high and would have funneled along the mountain valleys east and west.  At the lower end of the Seton Valley the wave may have contributed to the steep overhanging walls of the Inkumptch gorge and the cliffs on both sides of Seton Lake, and also been the agent by which Seton Creek began to carve its path through the terminal moraine which divides lower Cayoosh Creek from Seton Lake.  As for the people of the Seton valley – which doubtless there were given the antiquity of other human occupation in the region – very few could have survived such an event, either those up in the mountains hunting or berry-gathering or  just gone for a hike, or those saved by freak circumstances involving accidental shelters and wave-tossed canoes.  The level of proto-Seton Lake is indicated by the benchlands on the north side of the lake above Shalalth, and the height of the terminal moraine above Seton Beach (where Hwy 99 comes down out of the mountains and you get the first view of the lake).  Any possibility of an archaeological record relating to times before the great slide would be on that moraine, or on those benchlands.  Much of the archaeological record at Seton Portage, concerning the time since its creation by the great slide, is known to have been destroyed by tilling for agriculture and water-sluicing, trenching and other exploratory mining techniques.  It was supposed to have been a great quiggly village of hundreds of underground houses, their firelights resembling stars when seen from high on the mountains above.
  • .
  • At about 9,000 BP a great slide blocked the Fraser River at Texas Creek, creating the lake whose shores lapped at Keithley Creek and lower Pavilion, and built the benchlands opposite Lillooet and those of the Jones Ranch (the Sheep Pasture golf course) as it withdrew.  The higher-elevation benchland of the Airport correlates to a different, more ancient, slide farther downriver.  Today’s Big Slide on Highway 12, about 15 miles south of Lillooet, is the same slide that once blocked the Fraser.  The great slide which destroyed proto-Seton Lake doubtless impacted the Fraser Canyon and whatever lakes where formed within it at the time of the disaster.
  • So many thousands of years ago, the volcanoes of the upper Bridge River and Taseko areas, and those of the Itcha-Ulgatcho, were erupting, causing sudeen melting of the great glaciers and creating huge ash clouds and lava flows which helped form today’s Chilcotin Plateau.  The Lillooet area was devastated by floods generated by massive lahars pouring down from the still-shrinking Lillooet Icecap, then much larger than it is now, and perhaps opening the Big Canyon of the Bridge River to more or less how it looks today, as well as scouring the bedrock at the confluence with the Fraser River at the Six Mile Rapids.  Pictures of what had been the river’s course before its diversion show a deep, sharp canyon cutting directly into the rock of the shelf which spans the canyon-bottom at that point, from one side of the Bridge to the far side of the Fraser.  Around the same time, an eruption of Mount Brew, immediately above Lillooet, was accompanied by tectonic rivening of the local landscape which helped create the gorges of Cayoosh Creek and Seton Lake, and probably helped open the terminal moraine blocking proto-Seton Lake.  The same tectonic activity may have precipitated the Great Slide which formed Seton Portage.
  • A certain spot at Fountain, near the “great gates” of the Fraser on the gorge below 12 Mile, is by some tradition one of the Three Great Homes of Coyote on the North American continent – where he would habitually reside part of the year with his wives.  The standing limestone pillar above Pavilion Lake known as Chimney Rock translates from the Secwepemc language as a reference to the great Trickster’s primary genital apparatus.  Coyote’s domain in the world ended at the foot of Seton Lake, where he and the Transformers had met to divide the duties of correcting the World between them, and the world of the Fraser Canyon is entirely Coyote’s as far south as somewhere between Boston Bar and Spuzzum (maybe at Hell’s Gate), where a similar meeting with the Transformers took place at the end of their journey up that river.
  • In the Seton valley, there is a legend that “long ago, someone came through the valley who was so good, people say he was God.”  This tantalizing scrap of legendary tradition has little else attached to it, except that the man spoken of was very holy and instructed people to be good.  Needless to say, the Oblate missionaries seized on this tradition, as was the case with native “prophets” and prophecies elsewhere in BC, to aid in Conversion efforts.  What may be of interest to cross-reference, by contrast, is the story of Hua Shen, the Buddhist monk from Jilin (Kabul, Afghanistan) who is said to have travelled to the New World in the 6th Century A.D. as part of a company of missionary monks financed by the Chinese Emperor.  This isn’t to say this story was not a reference to some Sioux or Inuit holy man, or even the being who became known farther south as Quetzalcoatl, and the mounting evidence that Irish monks and Norse skalds (scholarly poets of the pagan tradition) migrated as individuals to North America suggests another, remoter, set of possibilties.  The myth is known not to refer to the Transformers or to Coyote or other beings in the usual St’at’imc mythical universe.
  • The Transformers’ journey through the land of the Lower St’at’imc and Lakes Lillooet can be told in considerable detail, but mytho-historically, other than their meeting with Coyote at Seton Lake, the other event of import was in the Poole Creek area of the Gates Valley just southwest of Birken Lake.  There the Transformers were accompanied by the Lower St’at’imc, the Lil’wat, when they were met by an emissary to the Transformers coming from the Fraser River Lillooet, bringing dried salmon and seeking to trade for spatsum (the name-source of Spuzzum), the reed used in basket-making.  One of the Transformers stamped his foot in a large stone at the spot, and declared that this would divide the country of the Fraser River people from that of the Lower Lillooet, but that they would be one people and meet here to trade salmon and spatsum.  The stone exists to this day, although it is on private property and not open to the public, and remains the traditional boundary-point between the division of the St’at’imc into Upper and Lower.  The older terms, prior to the naming of the town of Lillooet in January 1860, were more specific – St’at’imc and Lil’wat, but with the application of the latter’s name to the town where the former were traditionally concentrated required an agreement between the chiefs.  The situation that has arisen is that the longtime English name for their mutual political organization is the Lillooet Tribal Council, aka the St’at’imc Nation, and the Lil’wat are also known as the Lower St’at’imc.  Culturally those terms apply to non-member nations of the Lillooet Tribal Council, also, although Lil’wat refers specifically to the Mount Currie people and their location..



The “Contact” era for the purposes of this article is defined by Simon Fraser’s visit to the Upper St’at’imc in 1808.  The St’at’imc world was largely untouched and uncontacted further by non-natives until a few years before the gold rush of 1858, with only transits of the area by other HBC employees in 1828 and 1842 (Anderson).  In working terms some of the events described predate Fraser’s visit – or are rather contemporaneous to it – but the term “Contact” predisposes actual visitation and absorption into the so-called “civilized world” as represented on maps.  For technical purposes, even though he came nowhere near the Lillooet Country, the 1793 trip to Bella Coola via the West Road River by Alexander Mackenzie may be a better definition of the Contact period.

The Lillooet, both upper and lower, were some of the most hard-pressed of all native peoples in BC and, as observed by ethnologist James Teit, there was a Lillooet/Stl’atl’imx slave in almost every community in British Columbia, even among the distant Haida, Tlinkit and Kutenai.  This seems surprising given the apparent isolation of their home valleys, but their location next to warlike neighbouring peoples left them prey to attack, as they had no regular tradition of warfare of their own and lived in widely-disperesed mountain communities.  They were attacked by the Euclataws, who came in over the pass from Toba Inlet, where Lillooet people sometimes wintered (they were the only Interior Salish people to regularly frequent the Coast, if only at this spot), and it is likely via that raiding route that slaves wound up in Haida Gwaii.  The Squamish also raided the Lillooet, and there was some conflict over the hunting and fishing country in the upper Cheakamus which was frequented by people of both nations.  By historic times the two peoples were on good terms, as was also the case with the Chehalis and Sto:lo people, who sometimes had raided up Harrison Lake to attack the people of the lower Lillooet River.  Still, according to Lunden-Brown, it was only with the security brought by the gold rush that the Stl’atl’imx of the Lower Lillooet began to live at Douglas, althoug htheir absence from there in the interim may not have to do with the Chehalis, but (as we shall see) the Nlaka’pamux.  But that is towards the end of our tale, not at its start.

The timeline of relatively modern history in the Lillooet Country begins some time in the years before Simon Fraser came down the Canyon in pursuit of the river’s mouth into the sea.  Warfare against the Lillooet by neighbouring peoples to the east was fully underway at the time of Fraser’s visit, noting as he did that their main encampment was fortified and they were heavily armed, and agitated that Fraser’s native companion, a Shuswap or Chilcotin.  The identity of Fraser’s Atnah people has never been confirmed; they may be the Canyon Shuswap, who were allied with the Chilcotin but also not directly allied to the mainstream Shuswap (Secwepemc) of the Cariboo plateau and Thompson-Shuswap Country.  Fraser’s guide disavowed membership in the enemies of the “Askettih” (the band of Lillooets they met, as they recorded the name; this may be the Lillooet chiefly name Retaskit but that was not a placename; but translation between Fraser and his men and their guide and the guide with the Stl’atl’imx cannot have been precise, and it may be that the chief’s name was understood as the name of the village – or rather the fortress, as it was better described.  By the sound of Fraser’s account the Lillooets were not at war with the Thompsons at the time, so it is around that time that one of the great wars against the Lillooet, by the Shuswap, was in its last stages, or perhaps only recently over.

The war in question is described in some detail in Lunden-Brown’s transcriptions of Lil’wat-Ska’tin oral histories.  The Shuswaps, apparently those of the Adams Lake area in league with those from the Quesnel River, attacked the Lakes Lillooet suddenly and even thrust through the Gates Valley in the Lillooet River, either enslaving the Stl’atl’imx and Lil’wat or driving them into the hills.  The war may be the same as that alluded to in Teit’s history of the Okanagan peoples, in which a chief of the Interior peoples responds with umbrage to denials by the Chief of the Lakes (which may mean either the Lakes Lillooet or the Sinixt of the Arrow Lakes) that there were no such thing as white people, that the chief was lying to the council.  Oaths were sworn, and soon after they descended on the people of the Lakes at night, cutting their population to a tenth.  The Teit story has no connection to the Adams Lake or Quesnel River people, and it is not clear if the Bonaparte were among  the raiding parties.  For over a dozen years the Shuswap occupied the warm valleys of the Lillooet with its rich salmon runs and hunting and berry patches and wild edibles, so much more benign than their own high, cold plateau country.  Finally those people of the Lower Lillooet who had remained free, some of whom had taken refuge in the upper Lillooet River, or farther down towards Lillooet Lake, or in the Green River country where Whistler is now, began to train their youths spiritually and physically for the seemingly-impossible war to retake their homeland from the Shuswap.  A campaign of guerilla warfare and terror tactics was launched, as were artificial floods and other calamities brought down on the Shuswap by two, as the story goes, Lil’wat youths who had been raised to the task at the great hot springs at Meager Creek, and the other at Teiq, near Pemberton Meadows.  At their wits end by the deadly harrassment brought upon them by the two youths, the Shuswap begged for parley and agreed to withdraw.  The Lil’wat demanded they withdraw entirely beyond the Fraser, and so also the people of the Lakes and the west shore of the Fraser, the town of Lillooet and the three main Lillooet reserves, were freed from Shuswap domination.  At the time of Fraser’s and Anderson’s journey through the Canyon, though unbeknownst to either of those outsiders, the natives living on the east side of the Fraser in this area were Shuswap until the time of the gold rush, although much intermarriage had taken place between the two peoples, who were peaceful by then.  The people of Pavilion have always been of mixed blood, and are related to the Bonapartes as well as the Canyon Shuswap, and Fountain is a community drawn from all parts of Stl’atl’imx country as well as from Shuswap country, though fully Stl’atl’imx-ized culturally and politically.  Most native placenames on the east side of the Fraser north of Laluwissen (which is a Nlaka’pamux word; the place is roughly opposite Nesikep) are Shuswap, increasingly so towards and around Pavilion.

Some time in the same era, either before or after (but probably after), the benighted Nlaka’pamux of the Fraser Canyon and Cole Harris’ writings, who came over the rugged spine of the Lillooet Ranges to attack the Lower Lillooet River communities, even attacking Lil’wat (Mount Currie).  Many people were killed, and many enslaved, and the Lower Lillooet were weakened greatly by this, although they had successfully driven off the Nlaka’pamux as had the people of the Upper Lillooet River and Gates Valley long before.  The people of the Lillooet used the thick forest that was their home to great advantage against the Nlaka’pamux, who were used to open pine country, and also used tactics involving ambushes using the river, which is strong and dangerous everywhere between Tenas Lake and Harrison Lake.  This was not supposed to have been much before the gold rush, as there were those Lunden-Brown interviewed who had lived through the experience, which was a harrowing one.  Nlaka’pamux and Lil’wat-Ska’tin peoples have long since reconciled, although the first formal arrangement between them was joint patronage and custody of the Stein Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park between Lytton and Mount Currie.  Even in David Spintlum’s time, though, the Nlaka’pamux concept of the world had two of its corner-posts at Lillooet and Cache Creek – in Stl’at’imx and Bonaparte country, and both locations which the Nlaka’pamux had waged war against, attacking the communities of present-day Lillooet simultaneous with their attack on the Lower Lillooet River peoples.

The most famous war known to non-readers of obscure ethnographers and diarists, however, is the great war of the Chilcotins upon the Lillooet.  Apparently from the same period as the horrific attack on the Carrier people at Chinlac, the opening of the war was too much like that incident in its suddenness and bloodthirstiness.  The first victims were the then-large Lakes Lillooet community on the Blackwater River (Blackwater Creek on some maps), which flows into the Gates River from the low pass leading to the head of Birkenhead Lake..  The Chilcotins came over the pass at night and killed everybody who could not escape, spitting the children like lambs on spits and devouring the hearts of adults alive.  Other attacks on the Anderson and Seton Lake communities, Lillooet and the Bridge River people, the Pemberton Meadows people, the Lil’wat and even the people of the lower Lillooet River at Skookumchuck.  The Chilcotins came not to occupy, as had the Shuswap and Nlaka’pamux, but to enslave and to kill.  A dispute over hunting territory in the upper Bridge River basin may have been the source of the dispute which launched the attack, but this has never been proven and as far as the Lillooet tradition concerning this goes the attacks were completely unprovoked.  Once again the people of the Lil’wat/Lillooet and the Lakes rallied, and prepared a mountain campaign of retribution and revenge upon the Chilcotin.  Details of the war are not known except that it went on for many years, until ultimately the Lillooets came across an encampment of the Chilcotin, somewhere in the Big Creek country (about 50 miles north of Gold Bridge) and killed them all, except one to send the message home that the war must end.  The location of this attack is supposed to have been Graveyard Valley near Lorna Lake and the head of Relay Creek, due to the presence of some graves there, but this has not been proven.

One oral tradition has it that the leader of this attack, and the broker of the peace with the Chilcotin, was none other than Chief Hunter Jack of D’Arcy and Shalalth.  This makes sense a bit as it was known to the early miners and hunters in the Bridge River Country that Hunter Jack had learned Chilcotin, expressly to help end a war between their peoples, and that he was the first Lillooet to have done so.  The compromise appears to have been a division between Chilcotin and Lillooet hunting territories, roughly along Gun Creek and east over the Shulaps via Noaxe Creek, that shows up on some old maps of the country.  As Lillooet still hunted in the country beyond Gun and Tyaughton Creeks, the compromise appears to have been their right to hunt over into Big Creek and the Lord River, southeast and south of Taseko Lake, and in the country in between, and the Chilcotin could do the same.  Jack was apparently fluent in Chilcotin and knew many Chilcotin songs and dances – signs of someone who had spent a lot of time in another’s culture.The Chilcotin also came to Lillooet in gold rush tmies and on in sometimes great numbers for annual celebrations and horse sales and games.

What is known about the end of the war is that there was a mutual celebration including horse races, games, feasting and several dancing “somewhere in the Groundhog Mountains”, at the place called Many Roots.  That location has never been determined, and it could be anywhere from the upper Bridge basin, the upper Yalakom, or somewhere in the southeastern Chilcotin such as the Dil-Dil Plateau or the Sky Ranch-Hungry Valley area.  One sketch shows the Grounhog Mountains, which were Hunter Jack’s preferred hunting and guiding turf, was in the Dash Hill area north of uppermost Relay Creek, just west of the Mud Lakes pass with the head of Churn Creek.  Another possibility is the Moha area, where one landowner has been told by a Bridge River elder that the land he has he should hold onto because it has great power; it was the location of huge gatherings and dancings and contests and such and was a special place.

It is near this same area that one of Hunter Jack’s legendary gold mines is supposed to have been, at the head of a fork of Tyaughton Creek.  Others say that it was on Marshall Creek, and still others that it was on Whitecap Creek or somewhere hidden high above Shalalth on the mountainside, or somewhere else on Seton Lake.  A hunting guide from Shalalth, Mission Peter, once agreed to take someone to the Tyaughton Creek location but panicked, looking around terrified and urging them to leave, and he never returned to that area again.

A separate but probably related account mentions the resolution of a tripartite war between the Chilcotin, Lillooet and Shuswap that was settled simultaneously, possibly through the mediation of the Canyon Shuswap, who had friends on all sides.  The other accounts of war with the Chilcotin and Shuswap do not mention a joint war, but it is possible they were, if not connected, then at least contemporary.  Or there could be an entirely other war that this other account, brought to my attention by author and friend Terry Glavin, that did involve groups from all three nations.  In that story, the war is brought to an end when one of the mediators proposes the three warring parties learn a language completely alien from each of their own as a way for them to all learn something together; and the rest of the season was spent learning to speak the Chinook Jargon all at the same time, so that they would have a common tongue and a way to avoid misundesrtandings and hostility, and to aid intermarriage.  It is not known if this was the same war as that ended by Hunter Jack’s intervention (and possible ambuscade).

Mohawk princess-cum-poetess Pauline Johnson (Tekahionawake) who visited the Lillooet country, and addressed it in one of her better-known and more legitimately lyrical poems, Song of Lillooet, remarked upon the darker complexion and more angular features of the Canyon and Lakes Lillooet, so very different from the lower Lil’wat despite a shared language, and speculated upon the wars and intermarriage which bred the different bloodlines so evident even to her native eyes.  The darker, copper skin of the Lillooet Country described the Johnson has a simple explanation – the strong sunshine of the country east from Seton Lake, and the accompanying inescapable glare of summer heat.  This may not be ethnographically correct, but comments overheard by the author concerning family lines in Lillooet and Seton relate to greater contact with the Chilcotins and groups such as the Nicolas, whereas the Lower Lilllooet had greater contact with the Squamish, Sto:lo, Chehalis and, marginally, with the Homalhko (Comox) of Toba Inlet..

Two Hudson’s Bay voyageurs travelled through the Seton-Birken-Pemberton-Douglas route that would become the Lillooet trail in 1828, but without charting it.  That was left to the more well-known journey by Alexander Caulfield Anderson in 1842.  Other than those two journeys, and the oral histories compiled by Teit and Lunden-Brown and certain others, little else is known about the region other than the history of warfare and the scarcity that came with it.  Anderson comments on it, and even 16 years later at the opening of the gold rush all accounts mention how hungry people were, one account mentioning how recent wars had brought this about, by reasons of social disruption and, in the case of the Chilcotin war, a reduced hunt – partly because the men would have been away in the hills hunting the Chilcotin in the revengue for the Blackwater, Seton and Pemberton Meadows massacres, and partly because ordinary casual hunting in the rich Bridge River Country would have become dangerous, for the very same reason of the war with the Chilcotins.  Indications are that Hunter Jack (or whomever) brought about an end to the war sometime in the early 1850s, before any records on the area – or awareness of the area – by others began to be written.  Anderson’s notes concerning the presence of a form of the Chinook Jargon in the Fraser Canyon and Lakes Route region he gave to a publisher, but denounced the book when it came out, although his original notes are long lost.  What the story indicates, however, is that in the Lillooet area of the Canyon, at least, Chinook was already known, suggesting that the tripartite Chilcotin-Lillooet-Shuswap war was over, perhaps, or that the Lillooet knew Chinook in advance of the end of  the war (war was mentioned to Anderson by the locals in the Seton area).  Chinook is only known to have come to BC, in terms of docuemnted history, with the arrival of the multiracial/cultural HBC staff transplanted from Fort Vancouver, many of whose wives were actually of the Chinook people but who otherwise were an amalgam of French, Iroquoian, Metis, Scots, and Hawaiian and for whom Chinook was daily speech.  And much easier to teach Chinook to the locals of the lower Fraser than to try and learn the difficult subtleties of Halqemeylem, the language of the Kwantlen, Sto:lo and Chehalis peoples.  It was apparently in use at Nisqually and Puyallup and Colville and other HBC establishments, including Kamloops, although it had not as yet penetrated the Fraser; its presence at Forts Rupert, McLoughlin and Simpson farther up the BC Coast is not documented but may be at least partially assumed.  It did not appear to penetrate the New Caledonia “heartland” (north and northwest from Prince George) until the Omineca gold rush, rather than in fur trade times, since traders apparently had picked up enough Carrier that Chinook was not needed.  And west of there, Fr. Morice was a capable linguist who learned the languages of the people he moved among, and did not need to proselytize in Chinook as would become the case in the southern Interior under the diocese of Kamloops, which greatly spread the use of Chinook within the Catholic native population.

But the Lillooet Country was off  the beaten track virtually until the opening of the gold rush per se in 1858, although there are indications that some HBC staff had abandoned their posts, either to mine gold or to take up residence, in the Lillooet area prior to the discovery at Hill’s Bar, and during the gold rush it was noted that “it was extraordinary how many French Canadians there are about”.  Their identity, other than those known during the gold rush, has never been estabished but some may have been independent of the fur company who followed the route west, upon news of the area’s warm climate and good living, relative to the frigid realm of the Prairies (an old theme in BC migrations).  Another trace of prior non-native presence in the Lillooet area is the heritage of Frank Gott, said to be 65 years old at the time of his enlistment in 1914, whose father was a Capt. Gott and whose mother was Stl’atl’imx.  They would have had to have met in 1850 for that to be the case – but there is no record in HBC files of a trader or traveller named Captain Gott, and there has been no dispute of Frank’s age or year of birth.  The name is either Germanic or French (but not Canadian French) in origin.  It may be that Capt. Gott was in the American cavalry or other military somewhere in the West and found a Lillooet slave and rescued and married her, taking her home to her home country to have their child.  A romantic story if it were true, but the possibility of Capt. Gott having been American is the only vaguely remote one, as there were not even French and German mercenaries within three thousand miles of Lillooet at the time (many would be in the Canyon during the Gold Rush).


As already noted, the Lillooet were often described as destitute at the onset of the gold rush.  They were also known as the Friendly Indians, apposite to their Nlaka’pamux cousins farther down the Fraser who had warred with white men and who were known as the Couteau, or “Knife” Indians.  The frontier-period approximations of the aboriginal names are Stlatliumh and Hakamaugh.  Indications are in Lillooet and through the Seton-Gates corridor that there had been recent war and ensuant famine and social disarray and, likely, population decay – not just decrease from the war, but from the social effects of its aftermath.  No one, least of all  the remote Lillooet people, could have foreseen the scale of the transitory invasion that ranged through their country for a few short years.  They had seen invasion before, but never mass migration by people so alien from themselves or on such a scale.  Numbers vary, but the usual number stated for the migration through the Douglas-Lillooet Trail is in the range of 25,000 – in a few short months.  Natives generally welcomed travelling parties, although some stories of resentment exist in some of the journals, but for the most part natives readily took part in the busy commerce of the route, especially in freight, whether carried on their backs or by canoes.  At D’Arcy (Nequatqua) and Seton Portage, hordes of miners and hangers-on swarmed through the ports on hundreds of makeshift watercraft and a handful of small steamers, as also on Lillooet Lake and even more on the long route from New Westminster to Port Douglas.  In all areas, native communities on the waterfront were pushed aside, especially at the Portage and in the town of Lillooet, where today’s Main Street, the wide breadth of the Golden Mile and its vaguely gold rush flavour, is directly on top of the original main Stl’atl’imx village.  Even when the Royal Engineers were surveying the townsite – at the end of its heyday, after the original “metropolis of the upper Fraser”.dissolved itself in pursuit of richer goldfields elsewhere –
the chief and council of what is now the Lillooet Band (T’it’kt), whose main village is on the uppermost benchland at Lillooet now.  The RE had launched their survey atop where the town had grown – no doubt as miners wound up living in and buying out native residences or spaces in the Main Street area; the gold rush era town must have been much more haphazard, and the wide breadth of the road, ready for wagon trains, was an invention of the Engineers.  Actual commencement on the Alexandria Road via the Upper Fountain and Pavilion Mountain had to be launched on the farther side of  the river anyway, at the Bridge River or opposite Miller’s Ferry.At Seton Portage, the ancient quiggly village that spanned the short two kilometres was destroyed as miners tilled over the ground and water-sluiced it, and traversed across it and camped on it.  At Lillooet Lake it was a bit different; the main Lil’wat community was at Pemberton Meadows, many miles up the Lillooet River, but the presence of the miner traffic brought natives down in greaer numbers to live at what is now Mount Currie.  Similarly, Lunden-Brown notes, as also noted above, that the people of the Lower Lillooet River only took up regular residence at Port Douglas once the non-native people were living there and, he suggests, it was safe to to do – as they would be immune from further risk of enslavement by the Chehalis or others (they were there seasonally, he says, but not year-round).  The arrival of the Oblates in all areas during the 1860s and their establishment of missions at Skookumchuck Hot Springs (Ska’tin), Owl Creek (up the Birkenhead River from Mount Currie), and Shalalth caused a shift in native population patterns, although even by the 1890s the Oblates were still having to convince some villages to move into “modern” style housing (log cabin construction that is very rustic today).  The churches in nearly all communities were built on the village model, where a group of houses shared a street with their chapel, as at Nequatqua, Nkiat, Slosh, Cayoosh Creek, Fountain, Pavilion and, until their destruction by fire, at Shalalth and Lillooet.  Leon Creek has such a church, but its village is long-abandoned.

Immediate and further famine set in over the cold winters of 1858-59 and 1959-60, when the salmon runs disappeared and continued to be scarce for years, relative to their former abundance.  They protested, rightly, that the harm caused to the rivers had harmed the magic of the return of the fish, and the famine continued, though abated by the introduction of non-native vegetables and livestock.  In 1862, the depredations of the greatest of the smallpox epidemics devastated local populations and society.  Smallpox revisited the area from time to time in the next forty years but the population rapidly rebounded, though not to pre-gold rush and pre-war levels.  Those are unknown, although apocryphal oral descriptions put places such as Mt Currie, Seton and Lillooet in the tens of thousands; other estimates are much lower.

Of the three principal Lillooet chiefs, it was the chief of the Bridge River Band who openly cut mining licenses and collected taxes, encouraging the intense and profitable hydraulic mining of the Bridge River upstream as far as Moha.  Chinese miners are supposed to have sluiced most of the bench in the area of the Hanging Tree, which is immediately above the core of the ancient village (name unknown by this author), which was about where today’s Post Office and Hotel Victoria are today.  Evangelists – “saddlebag parsons”  – led by the Revs. Lunden-Brown (Anglican) and Turner (Methodist) and succeeded by others, and eventually the Oblates – began ….















History & Culture

This page is UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Please forgive the lack of arrangement and more detailed information, which is temporary. Stl’atl’imx persons who may wish to help me compose this page properly please contact me (replace “_at_” in address with @ symbol). Links to other websites concerning Stl’atl’imx history, culture and politics can be found at the bottom of this page, and please also see the Bibliography page of this website and also the page on the Bridge River Fishing Grounds. My intent with this page is to provide a basic overview of Stl’atl’imx history and culture for non-Stl’atl’imx visitors to this website, using what pictures are available to me for illustration. Thank you for your patience.
BC Archives # C-00919, Indian Elders attending the opening of the Health Centre in Mt. Currie, August 27, 1958, photog unknown 
BC Archives # C-00919
BC Archives # F-03513, Mt. Currie Indian Dance Group, 1950s 
BC Archives # F-03513
Stll'atl'imx Indian Baskets, photo: local postcard 
Photo: local postcard
BC Archives # C-01165, Mrs. Frank Brokaw w. Indian Handicrafts, Mt. Currie, 1913 
BC Archives # C-01165
BC Archives # C-01094, Mt. Currie Indian Baseball Team, 1920s 
BC Archives # C-01094
BC Archives # C-00990, Congregatoin of St. Christopher's Church, Mt. Currie, 1910s 
BC Archives # C-00990
BC Archives # C-01110, Original Home of 25 Mile Jim at Mt. Currie, 1940s 
BC Archives # C-01110
Oleman Family Drying Racks, Skimka, Lillooet (Seton Beach) 
Photo: Unknown (reproduced from “Short Portage to Lillooet” by I. Edwards)


BC Archives # A-02483, Three Mile Canyon on the Fraser, near Yale, showing Native fish-drying racks
BC Archives # A-02483
BC Archives # G-04397, group of Indians near Lytton, c.1880, ph. Maynard 
BC Archives # G-04397 (c.1880, ph. Maynard)
BC Archives # E-01938, Indian Cemetery at Lytton, 1860s, ph. Maynard 
BC Archives # E-01938 (c.1860, ph. Maynard)
BC Archives # C-01165, Mrs. Frank Brokaw w. native basketry, 1913, Pemberton 
BC Archives # C-01165
BC Archives # C-01007, Sports Day on Mt. Currie Reserve, 1940s 
BC Archives # C-01007


Drying Salmon and Berries

BC Archives # I-29073, Lillooet Indians Drying Salmon, 1954 
BC Archives # I-29073
BC Archives # I-29074, Lillooet Indians Drying Salmon 1954 
BC Archives # I-29074
BC Archives # I-29071, Lillooet Indians Drying Berries 1954 
BC Archives # I-29071
BC Archives # I-31909, Indians Drying Salmon near Pavilion
BC Archives # I-31909
Oleman Family Drying Racks, Skimka, Lillooet (Seton Beach)
Photo: Unknown (reproduced from “Short Portage to Lillooet” by I. Edwards)
BC Archives # A-03965 Seton Lake Salmon Weir, 1911 
BC Archives # A-03965   (Photo: F. Dundas Todd, 1911)


Pictographs and Petroglyphs

BC Archjves # E-05605, Indian Carvings on Rocks, Lillooet 1930s
BC Archives # E-05605
BC Archives # E-05606, Indian Carvings on Rocks, Lillooet 1930s 
BC Archives # E-05606
BC Archives # I-29080, Indian Paintings between Lillooet and Cache Creek, 1948 
BC Archives # I-29080
BC Archives # C-01315, "Untitled" (Pictographs in Lillooet district, probably Marble Canyon)
BC Archives # C-01315
BC ARchives # NA-12025, road near Pavilion Lake 
BC Archives # NA-12025

“Kekuli” – “Quiggly Holes”

Si7sten reconstruction at Lilllooet; native pit-house, also called kekuli, or "quiggly holes" Photo Mike Cleven 
Photo: Mike Cleven
Si7sten reconstruction at Lilllooet; native pit-house, also called kekuli, or "quiggly holes" Photo Mike Cleven 
Photo: Mike Cleven
Si7sten reconstruction at Lilllooet; native pit-house, also called kekuli, or "quiggly holes" Photo Mike Cleven 
Photo: Mike Cleven
Si7sten reconstruction at Lilllooet; native pit-house, also called kekuli, or "quiggly holes" Photo Mike Cleven 
Photo: Mike Cleven
Si7sten reconstruction at Lilllooet; native pit-house, also called kekuli, or "quiggly holes" Photo Mike Cleven 
Photo: Mike Cleven


Stl’atl’imx  Cemeteries

BC Archives # E-01602, Funeral at Indian Cemetery near Lillooet, 1920s 
BC Archives # E-01602
BC Archives # I-29069, Indian Grave w. view of Lillooet, 1959
BC Archives # I-29069


Plans & Information re St’at’imc Cultural Centre Project for Lillooet  
Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police Homepage
UBC Museum of Anthropology  Collection of Stl’atl’imx Artifacts
Bibliography of materials on the Lillooet Language  
Abstract of Brian Hayden’s “A Complex Culture of the British Columbia Plateau” – an authoritative work on the ethnobotany and and society of the Fountain-Tskwaylaxw Bands
Artwork by Koskas Billy Dan, a  Stl’atl’imx from Mt. Currie BC Abstract of Thesis on St’at’imcets (Lillooet) Language
Website Project for Historic Photos of St’at’imc Culture and People
SPEC site on native opposition to Melvin Creek ski resort (many links)



AUTHOR’S COMMENT (please read, especially if you’re Stl’atl’imx)

The original version of this page was simply a compilation of what available images there were of Stl’atl’imx life there were in the Provincial Archives images collection, commenting on the activities and localities in the pictures used, plus a few local postcards featuring Stl’atl’imx basketry.  I hesitated to dare write a more thorough account of Stl’atl’imx life, history and culture because, being sama7 (“shama” – white person, alhough the meaning is actually a bit more derogatory than just that), I did not feel it was my place to do so and I was hoping an interested Stl’atl’imx person would come forward to contribute material and “indigenously author” this page.

I finally “took it down” when I got an email from a Stl’atl’imx woman complaining that I had not made it a priority to say that all animals, trees, lakes and mountains in the images depicted were sacred to native people.  Well, it’s not my business to represent or promote anyone else’s religious or spiritual tenets on their behalf, and in truth it’s not as if nature was not sacred to non-natives as well – particularly given my own admitted “spiritual” connections to the Bridge River-Lillooet Country and my particular reverence in particular for its mountain canyons, winds and skies.

That being said, around the same time I was also drawing heat in an online mailing list/discussion group for “discussing indigenous history without being instructed in it indigenously”, as if my learnings from my the non-native elders in my life, who themselves had learned what they knew from native elders who were their friends, were somehow less indigenous than if I had learned them directly from an indigenously-approved (and no dought certified, stamped and sealed in triplicate) “official elder”.  And that my readings and study of works either directly written by “official elders” or those who had consulted them (e.g. Hayden, Teit, Hill-Tout) were not indigenous either.

Short of actually being “indigenous” myself, that’s about as indigenous as anyone can get, unless one limits oneself only to listening orally to those few native elders who might be willing to talk openly with just any white guy who comes up the driveway.  Which, in Stl’atl’imx Territory as nearly anywhere else, is highly damned unlikely.  And besides, personally, I’m known for talking too fast and asking too many questions and having too many opinions to “fit” into the patient quiet of native styles of conversation; not that I’m not sympathetic to theri culture, it’s just I do have a right to have my own.

I think what the complaining person was really on about was that, as was put a bit more bluntly by someone else in that mailing list, I don’t have a right to discuss native history because I’m not native – which is baldly a very racist argument.  It’s also like saying that only Germans have a right to discuss German history and culture, and only Japanese have a right to discuss Japanese history and culture.  What made these criticisms all the more ironic and discourse-deadning was that they were made in the context of a community based on shared interest in the Chinook Jargon, the old multi-ethnic trade language of the Pacific Northwest, which was used by native and non-natives alike – but which in latter-day linguistic politicizing is now considered to be only native in character, with non-native usage not worth studying or commenting upon, except that it was inferior in style, prononciation and usage to the “official” native version (an official version that never existed, and only through the efforts of modern linguists has a “standard” version attempted to be imposed).  That, despite the fact that at least half the known historical speakers of Chinook Jargon were not native, it should be studied only in the native context and its relevance within other groups should be debased and demeaned by “authentic”, er “indigenous”, modern scholarship.  In other words, “it’s ours, and you can’t have any”.  Hmmm – can someone spell “cultural appropriation” for me?  Or “hypocrisy”?

I bring this up because there will no doubt be those who will paranoiacally indict me for “appropriating” Stl’atl’imx culture, but that is anything but my intent.  Most published works on Stl’atl’imx culture are not in layman-accessible form (e.g. Hayden’s and van Eijk’s impressive and highly technical academic works) or are archaic nature (Teit and Hill-Tout) or random bits of native and general local folklore that all have to be tied together to make ordinary narrative sense for the casual reader.  So that is my intent, since no one else, Stl’atl’imx or otherwise, has tried.

A curriculum-oriented publication by the Upper St’at’imc Language Authority meant for schools as a textbook is in print, as also is a much more political but often didactic and not very focussed quasi-legal analysis of land claims by Joanne Drake-Terry, but again these are not much good at laying out “the whole story”.  In the last year or two I’ve wound up reading the frontier-era accounts (Hill-Tout and Teit) in reasonable detail, as well as the various diarists and note-taking officials from that era who give clues about personalities and native life in t hose times.  I’ve also based what is here on certain details and stories in the local histories by Decker (Pemberton), Harris (Lillooet-Pavilion), Edwards (Pemberton-Lakes-Lillooet), Ronayne (Pemberton and some Lakes, Lillooet and Bralorne), de Hullu (Bralorne-Gold Bridge-Minto), Miyazaki (the entire district) and Green (Bralorne-Pioneer, Gold Bridge and Minto mostly).  Decker, Edwards and Harris in particular try to cover a reasonable amount of native material, garnered from their own native sources (in Edwards’ case, longtime friends and store customers), and Dr. Miyazaki’s journal of his years as the local bush doctor give a good account of native life – as he encountered it.

As for my own motives, this site is non-profit and has been anything but relevant to the self-promotion of my own actual career interests and literary ambitions; the site is, rather, a labour of love for the region in which I first “woke up” as a human being, and to which I have returned over and over to “find my source” – to breathe in the mountains, and feel the wind remind my bones of their place on the earth, to soak in the desert heat and cool off in the jewelled waters of the lakes.  To omit mention Stl’atl’imx history and tradition from the overall content of would be a much greater slight, I would think, than daring to render native history as written by a non-native.  If appropriation were involved, as I know has been the case in the US and Eastern Canada, for those attempting to preempt native spirituality for their own use or aggrandizement, I would pretending to be a native, and making no pretense of using the sources I have just listed.

If this isn’t good enough for a Stl’atl’imx Person visiting the site who doesn’t like what I say, or the accounts of events that perhaps they may not wish discussed at all (such as the internative wars of  the early 19th Century, of which no mention at all is made in native-written histories), or not interpreted upon as I may do, then the solution is simple.  WRITE YOUR OWN SITE and don’t bitch to me that I haven’t written out what you would rather see presented.  Don’t tell me what I should have said – say it yourself!  The web is open territory, and you can stake as much of it as you like.  Certainly other native nations across North America have done impressive jobs presenting their cultures, histories and languages and making the world aware of their existence.

I would be only to happy if one day there were several Stl’atl’imx-authored historical and culture sites on the web, and I would gladly link to any of them without any return expected.  And maybe one day there might even be some Stl’atl’imx who appreciate my efforts to put together as much of what I understand of their history and culture here so that non-Stl’atl’imx people might have at least an inkling of who they are and where they came from and, indeed, why they’re still here.  And who maybe might even contribute pictures, songs or artwork to help illustrate and enrich the site for its intended non-native readership.

*NOTE: The Spelling used in the title here conforms to the conventional spelling of the proper name of the Lillooet Indians prior to a linguistic reform of the 1990s.  This spelling is still in use by the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police but the political and cultural organizations prefer to use St’at’imc, as in the latinization of their language, St’atimcets’, that is now official, the <t’> represents the “tl” sound.  This representation is not current in English, however, and the <t’> character even in other Northwest languages can also represent other sounds, so I have stuck with the older spelling so that people not from the area have a clue as to its prononciation.  The final <x> or <c>, depending on the spelling in use, is largely silent, but represents a very soft “stop”.  The frontier-era English spelling of this name, which is fairly close to the native prononciation, is Slatliumh or variants thereof.  This term in those days applied only to the “Upper Lillooet”, mostly those around the Fraser but nowadays including the Lakes Lillooet (Seton Lake Band and, theoretically, the Nequatque/D’Arcy Band), while the native source of the usual English name, Lillooet, is that of the large concentration of St’at’imcets speakers at Mount Currie, who are the “Lower Lillooet” or, as referred to in olden days, “the real Lillooet”.  The name for that community is Lil’wat, the people who live there the Lil’wat’ullh, or as given in frontier records, the Liluet-ol.  (“Ullh” means “people”, sort of).  The term Lower Lillooet Indians (or St’at’imc Nation) includes the St’at’imcets-speaking communities down the Lillooet River towards Harrison Lake, but in recent times they were separately consituted from the larger body of the Lillooet Nation as the In-SHUCK-ch Nation.  The Lower Lillooet also used to include communities at Pemberton Meadows and between Mount Currie and D’Arcy, and in the upper Elaho and upper Lillooet River valleys, and formrly around Green Lake and in the upper Cheakamus (what is now the Resort Municipality of Whistler).

Chinook Jargon Phrasebook

Kahta Mamook Kopa Chinook Wawa – How to speak Chinook

Kamloops Wawa Word List:

This is a list of basic Chinook Jargon words as reproduced in Kamloops Wawa, a publication of the Oblate missionary community in British Columbia during the 1890s.  This is not, as far as I can tell, the same list as one in another edition of Kamloops Wawa, as there are some differences in spelling that I remember from the other version.  This list is produced separately here from the rest of the Phrasebook because of the wide divergence in spelling and apparent prononciation from the other versions of the lexicon, most of which were published in the United States.  There are also some words included here which do not appear in the usual sources (Gibbs, Shaw, etc.).

The original version of this list as it appeared in Kamloops Wawa included renderings of the words given in the Duployan shorthand script developed for the Jargon by Fr. Lejeune; there were apparently at one time over 2000 people fluent in reading the Jargon in this shorthand, and many copies of the Kamloops Wawa are nearly entirely in the shorthand alone.  Thetexts in yellow are my own additions, consisting of the usual (or alternate) spellings of the Jargon words noted, plus comments about their usual meanings and possible contexts; when necessary I have added links to appropriate pages elsewhere in this site that are pertinent to the word cited.  At the bottom of the word list there is some editorializing concerning the Jargon and the Duployan shorthand that was included in the same issue of the Kamloops Wawa as the word list, and for your convenience in studying the Duployan script glyphs of each word, the table of forms and associated phonemes may be viewed by clicking here (144kb).  A later revision of this page will attempt to align the glyphs according to the baseline used in the original, which is too large of a GIF to be viewed here in any legible format; many of the angle-lines shown here are below this baseline.

NB:  concerning prononciation, the final “-e” and “-ale” on most words should be understood to be a pronounced syllable, rather than a modifier of the preceding vowel as it is in English.  e.g. the word poolale here is usually given in other Jargon lexicons as pollalie.

 Aiak – Fast   hyak, hayak 
 Aias – Big   hyas   also means mighty, important, etc.
 Aioo – Plenty   hiyu   also means several, many, a group, a gathering 
 Alta – Now   the present 
 Alke  – By & by   alki   the future; used to form the future tense
 Ankate – Long ago   ahnkuttie   the past; used to form the past tense
Oihat – Road   wayhut, ooahut, ooakut  also means path, highway, route, etc. 
 Oihoi – Trade   hui-hui, huy-huy   to bargain, to strike a deal 
 Olali – Berries   olallie 
 Olo – Hungry   also means thirsty; in combination with other words can mean to need or to want, i.e. olo moosum – to be sleepy, to need sleep
Ooputs – The Back   opoots   also means the behind, the buttocks
Ookuk – This   okook, okoke   also means this one, these, that one, those 
 Ow – Brother   specifically the younger brother, someone younger than the speaker 
 Wawa – Speak   also means speech, language, to say, to talk, to tell, words, also used to refer to the Jargon itself 
 Wah – Pour   wagh   the final ‘h’ sound should be pronounced, as indicated by the shorthand glyph 
 Weht – Again   weght   also means yet, even, still, also, etc. As with wah, the prononciation of the ‘h’ in this word is indicated in the glyph
Wek – Not    wake, wik   with halo, a generic negative; also used to mean nothing, etc. 
 Yawa – There   yahwa 
 Yaka – He   she, it  also the accusative or genitive/possessive of any of these pronouns (i.e. him, his
 Yakwa – Here   yukwa 
 Ehe – Laugh  hee-hee, heehee   can also mean fun, games, laughter, games, etc. and in the combination mamook hee-hee means to play 
 Ehpooi – Shut   ikpooie   also means closed, locked 
 Iht – One   ikt, ixt   can also mean alone, only, etc.  In the form ikt…..ikt means one or the other or either…or
Ipsoot – To hide   also means hidden, concealed, a secret, etc. 
 Itlooil – Flesh   itlwillie   can also mean meat, muscle tissue, etc. 
 Ikta? – What? 
 Iktas – Goods   can also mean possessions, clothes, etc. 
 Ilaiten – Slave   elite   another word, mitschimass, was also used for the condition of enslavement 
 Elo – Not   halo   with wake, a generic negative, also used to mean nothing, etc. 
 Elehe – Earth   illahee, illahe, illahie   also means soil, land, country, terrain, field, farm etc. 
 Ilep – First   elip   also means before, in front of, the elder brother, etc. 
 Issik – Paddle   isick 
 Eskom – Take   iskum   also means to have, to hold, to possess, etc.; can mean to believe, as in iskum tumtum – to have thought, to have a feeling 
 Enatai – Across   enati 
 Utle – Glad   youtl 
 Haha – Awful   I have not seen this in other lexicons; it may only be a regional usage 
 Halak – Open   hahlakl  i.e. wide open; can also mean unlocked, exposed, etc.
Hum – Smell   humm   a bad odour, not “to smell 
 Heloima – Other   huloima   also means another, different, strange, the other one, a foreigner, etc. 
 Paia – Fire   piah   also means hot, cooked, ripe
Pasisi – Blankets    paseese   can also mean cloth in general 
 Patl – Full   pahtl 
 Patlach – Give   potlatch   this word also means a gift, and was used to describe the institution of the gift-feast.  NB cultus potlatch – “just a gift“, i.e. a way of downplaying the gift or act of giving as in humility 
 Poo – Shot   i.e. a shot (of gunfire), or the shot-pellet or a bullet 
 Poolakle – Night   polaklie   also means darkness, evening, shadow, etc.
Poolale – Powder    pollalie 
 Poos – If   does not occur in other lexicons; may be a borrowing from the French puis 
 Pi – And    pe  also means but, and in other areas if 
 Pel – Red    pil 
 Pelpel – Blood   pil-pil, pilpil
Pelten – Insane    pelton   can also mean a fool, deranged, foolish etc.  I do not think this was associated with violent insanity, but rather with harmless befuddlement or mental incapacitation 
 Taye – Chief    tyee   can also mean any official or person of rank or status 
 Taham – Six   taghum, tohum, tahum 
 Tatilam – Ten    tahtlum 
 Tamanwaz – Juggler   tamanass, tamahnous, tamanahwis   usually translated as magic, the supernatural, wizard, spirit, evil etc.  The intent here might be to associate the tamanass or Indian doctor (medicine man) with mere prestidigitation, and not concede the existence or validity of magic or non-Christian practices
Tanaz – Little     tenas, tenass  also means small, child, son, the young of any species, etc.
Tolo – Win    also means to gain, to earn, to conquer 
 Tomtom – Heart   tumtum    also means to think, to feel, to believe, etc. 
 Tepso – Herb    tupso   also means grass, flowers, any plant, etc.
Tekop – White   tkope 
 Teke – To like   tikegh, ticky   to want, to desire, to yearn 
 Tiktik – Telegraph   usually means a watch or a timepiece; I have not seen this translation elsewhere
Tel – Tired    till 
 Telikom – Men   tillikum, tillicum    can mean people or a person; often used in the context of “friend“, and can occur in a plural form with “-s
Tintin – Bell   also means to ring, or any sound, or music
Tlap – Catch   klap   also means to find, to arrive at a conclusion, to remember something (i.e. to find a thought) 
 Dret – Indeed   delate   usually means true, straight, etc.  “indeed” is elsewhere rendered as nawitka 
 Tloos – Good   kloshe, kloos   has a wide variety of other meanings in many compound forms
Tloon – Three   klone 
 Tlil – Black   klale 
 Tsee – Sweet    care must be taken to distinguish this word from chee, for new (given here as che)
Tsem – Writing    tzum   can also mean spots, marks, etc. and can be an adjective for spotted or patterned cloth, esp. calico, as in tzum paseese
Tsiktsik – Wagon    chikchik
Tsiltsil – Stars    chilchil
Kah? – Where?   Generic interrogative, can also be conjunctive and prepositional, and can mean what, etc. and the conjunctive form of that, which, etc.
Kapshwala – Steal   kapswalla   can also mean stealthy, illicit, crooked, etc., e.g. klatawa kapswalla – to go cautiously, to travel secretly
Kata – How?    kahta?   also means why
Kakwa – Thus   kahkwa   also used for how, like, as, as if, similar to
Kakshet – Broken    kokshut   also means a blow, a strike, smashed to pieces
Kalakala – Birds 
 Kaltash – Useless   cultus   also meant ordinary, broken, meaningless, shiftless and was often used to mean bad, ill although it also had quite neutral meanings, i.e. cultus potlatcha simple gift (i.e. one without conditions)
Kanawe – All    konoway, konaway   the compound kopa konaway was used for the whole way, the whole shebang, everything and then some, etc.
Kanamoxt – together    kunamoxt, kunamokst  also used to mean both, the two, a pair; seems to have its origin as konaway moxt – all two
Kansih? – How many?    kunjih?   kunsih?  was used for any question relating to quantity, including how much? as in a price
Kamooks  Dog
Kopa – at, in    generic preposition; can also mean to, with, by, by means of, etc.
Kopet – Done   Also means to finish, to stop, to complete, and but for, even, still, yet, etc.
Kolan – Ear   kwolann, kwolan   also means to hear, to listen, esp. in combination with mamook
Komtax – Know   kumtux, kumtuks   also means to understand, to think, etc.
Kwaten – Belly    kwahtin, yakwahtin  also means the stomach, the torso, the trunk of the body, the entrails, etc.
Kwash – Afraid    kwass
Kwanesem – Always    kwanesum, kwonesum   also means forever, eternity, eternal
Kwenam – Five    kwinnum
Kipooit – to sew   kipwit, kipwot, keepwot  can also mean a needle or an awl
Kikoole – Below   keekwullee, kickwillie   also means underground, beneath, an underground house, etc.
Kilapai – Upset    kilapi, killapie   upset as in turned over, etc.; also means changed, reversed, to go back, etc.
Kimta – Behind     kimtah   also means after, following, next, etc.; can mean later on
Kiskis – to drive   kishkish
Kiutan – Horse   kiuatan   It surprised me to see this in the Kamloops-area word list, as the word cayoosh was common in the Jargon of the BC Interior to mean horse, specifically a mountain-pony 
 Klahane – Outside   klahanie   the outdoors in general, as well as outside of a building or in the open
Klahoyam – Poor   klahowyum, klahowya   also means miserable, etc.; used as the main greeting in the jargon (perhaps originally ironically)
Klatwa – Go    klatawa, klattawah   also means to move, to travel, etc.
Klaksta – Who 
 Klaska – They   as with all pronouns, also used for the accusative and genitive/possessive (i.e. them, theirs)
Kliskes – mats    kliskwis, klisskwiss
Klootchmin – Woman    klootchman   also used in compounds to indicate the female of any species; in later times its use in application to humans was restricted to native women 
 Kloonas – Possibly   klonas   maybe, perhaps
Knim – Canoe    canim 
glyph for "kho"  Kho – Reach   ko   i.e. to arrive at
Khow – Tie   kow   specifically in the combination mamook kowkow by itself seems to mean a knot or tied-up
Khell – Hard    kull   means physically hard, as in texture, as well as a term for difficulty
Lolo – Carry    can also mean a burden, a load, to portage
Laket – Four    lakit
Lele – A long time     laly   this seems to more have been an auxiliary for measures of time; in combination with ahnkuttie, the word for the past, it means “a really long time ago” or antiquity, while in combination with words for the future (winapie, alki, etc.) it actually meant “soon“, “not long now“, rather than “a long time from now 
 Chako – Come   used for to become, and for certain passive compounds; has a wide variety of other meanings and contexts in various compounds
Chok – Water    chuck   fluids in general, lakes, water, sea, etc.  “out on the chuck” remains an expression in English of the region for being out on a boat
Che – New    chee   also means recently, newly come, etc.
Chikmin – Metal   chickamin, chikamin   specifically iron; with adjectives for colour can mean gold or silver (i.e. pil and tkope, respectively).  Also means money
Sahale – Above    saghalie, sagalie   also means over, high up, the sky.  In use by missionaries it was coopted to mean heaven, and became confused with the meaning holy or sacred because of its use for God – Saghalie Tyee, i.e. chief above 
 Saia – Far   siah   in Nookta/Nuu-chah-nulth territory this word meant sky
Saplel – Bread   sapollil   also means flour, wheat, etc.  Bread can also be lepan
Sakalooks – Pants    sakolleks   trousers, etc.
Salix – Angry   solleks
Siahus – Eyes     seeahost, siaghost  also means the face, etc.
Siesem – Tell    this appears to be related to yiem, which was used for the same meaning in Puget Sound and the Lower Columbia, and could also mean a tale or a story
Sitkom – Half   sitkum   also means halfway, part of
Sele – Soul     does not appear in other lexicons; appears to be a borrowing from the German seele; this term may have been introduced by the Oblates because the French loanword equivalent would have been lahm (from l’ame), which is the same as the word for oar
Senmoxt – Seven   sinamoxt 
 Stiwil – Pray   does not appear in other lexicons; appears to be a borrowing from Secwepemc (Shuswap)
Stalo – River    does not appear in other lexicons, where liver or chuck is generally provided for river; appears to be a borrowing from the Salishan languages of the Fraser-Thompson basin.  The First Nation of the lower canyon and upper delta of the Fraser River goes by the name Sto:lo (the “:” being a sort of glottal stop) 
 Skookum – Strong   also means big, true, able, genuine, powerful 
 Snaz – Rain   snass 
 Maika – Thou   mika    i.e. the second person singular; as with all pronouns, can also be the accusative or genitive/possessive (i.e. thee, thine)
Makmak – Eat     muckamuck   generally means to ingest, including to drink; can also be used for food, dinner or a meal
Mamook – Work     also means to do, to make, etc.; used to form verbs by combination with nouns and adjectives, and to form the passive or imperative in combination with other verbs and adverbs 
 Makook – Buy   mahkook   can also mean to trade, to shop, to do business, etc., and can also mean to sell, though not as commonly
Mowich – Deer   mowitch   can refer to animals in general
Mash – Throw     mahsh   has a wide variety of meanings and possible contexts
Masachi – Bad     mesachie   has the specific context/connotation of malice or evil, whereas kaltash (cultus) and tamanwaz (tamanass, tamahnous) have other less explicitly malign meanings 
 Moxt – Two   mokst
Moosum  Sleep
Moosmoos – Beef   also means cattle, cow, etc.  Not to be confused with moose, which was either used as a loanword itself or was given as hyas mowitch (which could also mean elk) 
 Mitlait – Remain   mitlite  has a wide variety of meanings and possible contexts
Mitooit – Stand    mitwhit   also means upright, standing up, etc.
Memloos – Dead    memaloose, mimaloose   also means death, to kill, to die
Msaika – You   mesika, mesaika   the plural second person; as with all pronouns, can also be the genitive/possessive (i.e. yours)
Naika – I, me    nika   as with all pronouns, can also be the genitive/possessive (i.e. mine)
Nawitka – Yes   nowitka   was commonly used for “indeed!“, i.e. an emphatic imperative
Nanich – See    nanitch   also used to mean to look, to watch, sight, vision, etc.  The phrase kloshe nanitch – watch well, i.e. to guard, to look out – was the motto of the Kamloops-based militia regiment the Rocky Mountain Rangers.
Nsaika – We   nesika, nesaika   the plural first person; can also be the accusative and genitive/possessive (i.e. us, ours)
Kapho – Brother    kahpo   the elder brother, a person older than the speaker
Tanke son (tahke son?) – Yesterday   tahlkie, tahlkie sun   the “sun” compound specifies the daytime; tahlkie polaklie would mean yesterday evening or last night
Ulkat – Long    youtlkut   long as in physical dimension, not as in time
Tlemenooit – To tell a lie   kliminawhit   can also mean a liar; from the word klimin or klimmin – smooth, a lie


Words borrowed from English

It should be explained here that not all the words in the following list necessarily have the same meanings they customarily do in English – “wind”, for example can refer to weather of all kinds depending on what adjective is used with it; it also refers to breath, to breathe, and to be alive iskum wind or mitlite wind. Also the script characters given, when deciphered, are a demonstration that the prononciation of these words was different than in English – “old” and “cold” being pronounced “ole” and “cole”, and “warm” being pronounced “waum”. Please refer to the shorthand table reproduced here from Kamloops Wawa if you care to decipher any of the following pronounciations yourself.

 Examination of the glyph here will show the usual Jargon prononciation of this loanword – lope. Similar r – l transitions can be found throughout this word list.
Used in the broad general sense of wood; trees, shipmasts, and building lumber alike were all called stick, with or without modifying adjectives.
 While the word depicted here by thy glyph is indeed an English word, it is not day, but rather the word that was used to mean day – sun.
The older Jargon numeral was stotekin; the adoption of this English numeral may have been specific to the B.C. Interior.
Note that the prononciation here is in the British/colonial fashion, with a pronounced ‘h’ before the ‘w’.
Note that the prononciation here is in the British/colonial fashion, with a pronounced ‘h’ before the ‘w’.
The prononciation written here is the with an initial ‘t’, and there is no final ‘r’ or ‘h’
 Get up


RE-TRANSLATED into the semi-original Chinook
(with a further English re-translation)
from the published source:
“Four Wagons West,”
by Roberta Frye Watt, Binsford & Mort, Portland Ore., 1934.
Originally published in the Seattle Sunday Star, Oct. 29 1887.

This retranslation is an attempt to unravel the extrapolations and embellishments of Chief Seattle’s treaty speech of 1853 by returning it to the Chinook Jargon, in which it was first comprehended by white men.  Seattle himself spoke in Lushootseed, the Salishan language of the Suguamish people, and his speech was translated into the commonly-spoken Chinook Jargon by one of the other people of his tribe.  I have done my best to re-translate this famous text, but it was not easy and is by no means coherent – I have given up for now on the last few paragraphs because they seem to be entirely inexpressible in Chinook, as does much of the speech as a whole.
Anyone familiar with the Jargon will immediately recognize that there are many adjectives and ideoms in the supposed “authentic text” that simply could not have been said in Chinook.  What appears to have happened is that the white witness to this speech, who apparently understood some Jargon himself, remembered its basic context and tried to paraphrase it years later – adding copious amounts of poetry and verbal embellishment that, again, are simply not possible in Chinook.  The writer’s intent was no doubt good-hearted, but his memories of the speech and his observations on the fate of native people seem interwoven with whatever the original words of Seattle’s translator must have been.

 In some cases below I have (I think) been able to deconstruct the emendation, in others to paraphrase what seemed to have been the original Chinook.  In some sections, however, it is pretty clear that the English phrasing given either did not exist in the original Chinook (or the original Lushootseed) or does not resemble what else might have been said in the Jargon itself.  I have tried to render even these extrapolated sections into Chinook, although those sections about which I have doubts I have put in square editorial brackets and/or provided alternatives.  Nonetheless I must aver that my entire translation seems awkward and belaboured, and that the original Chinook phrasing must have been quite different from either the published version or my re-translation of it.  I fully admit that my command of Chinook Jargon syntax is not the best, and my word-order below is quite English in origin, although I have tried to do my best.
Other than grammar, technical re-translation problems concern the many superfluous adjectives in the “authentic” text, and also the use of subjunctives and conditionals (could, should, would) and other verbs which would have been cumbersome – or even impossible – to express in Chinook, and in any case appear to be part of the extrapolations added by the white transcriber.  Chinook speech was much more direct and “active” in voice, and the complex phrasing of the English version seems very unlikely to have anything to do with the original because of this.  The well-known line about buffalo may have originally been made in reference to deer or elk, so rather than “hiyu hyas moos-moos” I have used “hiyu hyas moolock” (many great elk, or many moose).  Futhermore, the published version has Seattle saying that his people were pushed westward; this is definitely not the case and would be part of the emendation of the white transcriber.  Similarly the use of “your God” and “our God” as apposites would have been difficult to render in the Jargon; since “Saghalie Tyee” is commonly regarded to be of Christian invention, I think it quite probable that the Lushootseed name for “the Great Spirit” was used, even in the Jargon rendering of the day; I do not know what this word was so have used “nsaika Saghalie Tyee” instead as no other term is available (“hyas tamanawhis” would simply not work and has much more supernatural overtones than religious ones).  One thing that has perplexed me about Seattle’s discussion of religion (about 2/3 of the way through) is that I understood him to have been a converted Catholic, who could not have been talking about “our” God or “your” God; perhaps he was only talking about how the same God had been unkind to his people; there is no way to know.

As for the English re-retranslation, I have for the most part stuck with a literal rendition as much as possible, with occasional comments or alternative translations given in square brackets.  What struck me as I was deconstructing the Chinook version was that the necessary Jargon ideoms, and sometimes of the available alternative interpretations, infer a much darker tone to Seattle’s original speech, which seems to have been much more grim-faced, bitter and tragic than the “white-washed” published version claims.  In particular, some of the more cloying and submissive phrases of the published version turn out to be possibly quite different in the original – defiant, even condemnatory.

Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and

Okook saghalie yaka mamook tumtum kopa naika tillicum kopa laly ahnkuttie, pe nsaika nanitch mitlite kwanesum, klonas halo

This sky that has made compassion [had feeling] for my people from time immemorial, and we see being forever, maybe [will]
eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change.

mitlite kwanesum alki.  Alta mitlite kloshe.  Tomollah klonas mamook smoke [mamook polaklie].  Naika wawa mitlite kahkwa tsiltsil yaka mitlite kwanesum.

not exist forever [into the] future.  Now [in the present] it is good.  Tomorrow maybe there will be clouds [there will be darkness].  My words are like stars that exist always [i.e. my words will always be].

Whatever Seattle says, the great chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun

Kah Seathl mahsh wawa, hyas tyee kopa Washington mamook skookum tumtum kopa naika, kahkwa chako kilapi sun,

What Seathl says [orders], the great chief in Washington can believe in me [be strong-hearted towards me], as comes back the sun,
or the seasons. The white chief says that Big Chief at Washington sends us greetings of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of

pi chako kilapi cole illahee.  Okook tkope tyee wawa kah Hyas Tyee kopa Washington mahsh wawa kopa nsaika kopa mitlite sikhs, kopa mamook kloshe.  Okook kloshe kopa

and as come back the winter [the coldness of the land].  This white chief says that the Great Chief in Washington sends word [orders] to us to be friends, to be good [to fix things up].  This good of [for]
him for we know he has little need of our friendship in return. His people are many. They are like the grass that covers vast

yaka, kehwa nsaika kumtux yaka halo tikegh nsaika mitlite sikhs kopa yaka.  Yakas tillikums mitlite hiyu.  Klaska mitlite kahwka tupso kopa

him,  but we know he does not need us to be friends to him.  His people are many.  They are as grass

prairies. My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain. The great, and I presume — good, White

kloshe illahee.  Naika tillikum mitlite tenas hiyu.  Klaska nanitch kahkwa whim-stick kopa illahee kopa storm [hyas wind].  Hyas – pi naika tumtum – kloshe, Tkope

on good land [flat land, valley bottom].  My people are few.  They look like fallen trees on the land from a storm [great wind].  The great – and I hope – good, White

Chief sends us word that he wishes to buy our land but is willing to allow us enough to live comfortably. This indeed appears

Tyee mahsh wawa kah yaka tikegh mahkook nsaika illahee pi tikegh potlatch kopa nsaika kopet hiyu kopa mitlite kloshe.  Nawitka, okook nanitch

Chief sends word [orders] that he wants to buy our land and wants to give to us only enough to be comfortable [to be good, to behave].  Indeed, this looks
just, even generous, for the Red Man no longer has rights that he need respect, and the offer may be wise, also, as we are no

kahkwa kloshe, kopet hiyu kloshe, kehwa siwash tillikums alta iskum law pi tyee yaka tikegh mamook youtl, pe klonas yakas wawa mitlite kloshe kumtux, pe nsaika alta halo

like good, even much good, and Indian people now have law and chief he wants to be proud [the original English has no Jargon equal], and his word maybe is good thought {well understood], and we now do not
longer in need of an extensive country.

tikegh iskum hyas illahee.

need to have a great country [much land].

There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time

Laly ahnkuttie mitlite hiyu siwash tillikums, kahkwa wind pe saltchuck, pe kahkwa hykwa, pe kahkwa klogh-klogh, pe okook sun

Long ago there were many Indian people, like wind on the sea, like shell-money shells, like oysters, but that day

long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory. I will not dwell on, nor mourn over,

mitlite kopet ahnkuttie, pe hiyu siwash tillikums alta mitlite kopet ikta kopa mamook cly tumtum.  Naika mamook wawa pe mamook cly kopa

is ended long ago, and many Indian peoples now are only something to cry over [to lament].  I will not speak nor make tears over
our untimely decay, nor reproach my paleface brothers with hastening it, as we too may have been somewhat to blame.

nsaika chako cultus, pi mahsh wawa kopa Bostonmans [tkope tillikums] kopa mamook okook kahkwa, pi klonas nsaika tenas mamook kunamoxt, [pe shem iskum kopa nsaika].

our coming to waste, and I will not make words to Americans [white people] for making this come to pass, and maybe we [ourselves] somewhat have done this together [and the shame is ours].
Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong, and disfigure their faces with black

Tenas man mitlite youtl [Siwash tillikums mitlite youtl].  Kah nsaika tenas mans chako solleks kopa cultus mamook pe mesachie mamook, pe mamook tzum klaskas siaghosts kopa klale

Young men are proud [Indian people are proud].  When our young men come to anger for worthless deeds [reasons] or truly evil deeds, pe make mark [on] their faces with black
paint, it denotes that their hearts are black, and that they are often cruel and relentless, and our old men and old women are

pent, okook mitlite kahkwa klaskas mamook tumtum mamook klale, pe klaska mitlite mesachie pe lemolo, pe nsaika oleman pe lummieh

paint, this is like they feel black-hearted, and they are violent and wild, and our old men and women
unable to restrain them. Thus it has ever been. Thus it was when the white man began to push our forefathers ever westward.

wake skookum mamook kow klaska.  Kahkwa mitlite kopa ahnkuttie, kopa laly ahnkuttie, kopa kwanesum.  Kahkwa okook kah Bostonmans chako mahsh Siwash tillikums kopa [illahee kopa] klip sun.

cannot tie [restrain] them.  Such it has been of old, since time immemorial, and forever [it has been and will always be].  Thus it was so when Americans came to push Indian peoples towards the land of the setting sun [towards the sunset].
But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

Pe nsaika tumtum kopa puk-puk pe solleks kopa nsaika kopa klaska klonas wake chako kilapie.  Nsaika iskum hiyu kopa mahsh, pe halo kopa skookum tolo.

But we think that fighting and anger between us and them maybe will not come back.  We have much to throw away, and nothing to be able to gain.

Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home in times of war,

Tenas man mamook tumtum pe kilapie solleks mitlite ikta tolo, pe mahsh klaska wind kopa okook, pe oleman klaska mitlite kopa house kopa puk-puk

Young men think that to return anger is to win, and throw their lives away for this, while old men they are in the house during war
and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.

pe mama klaska mitlite tenas kopa mahsh – klaska okook mamook kumtux elip kloshe.

and mothers they have children to lose – these understand better.

Our good father in Washington–for I presume he is now our father as well as yours, since King George has moved his

Nsaika kloshe papa kopa Washington – naika mamook tumtum yaka mitlite nsaika papa alta, elip msaikas, pe alta Kingchauch mamook yakas

Our good father in Washington – I believe he is our father now, as well as yours, for now Kingchauch [the British] have made his [their]
boundaries further north–our great and good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. His

kullaghan elip kopa cole illahee – nsaika hyas pe kloshe papa, nawitka, mahsh wawa kopa nsaika pe poos nsaika mamook kahkwa yaka tikegh, yaka mamook kloshe [pe kloshe] nanitch kopa nsaika.  Yakas

boundary more towards the north [the cold land] – our great and good father, indeed, orders to us that if we do like he says, he will [fix things and] watch over us.  His
brave warriors will be to us a bristling wall of strength, and his wonderful ships of war will fill our harbors, so that our ancient

hyas skookum sojers mitlite kopa nsaika skookum, pe yakas hyas ships mitlite kopa nsaika chuck, kahkwa okook tillikums klaska ahnkuttie mamook puk-puk kopa nsaika, okook

very strong [brave] soldiers will be strong for us, and his great ships will be on our waters, as those people who of old have made war on us, those

enemies far to the northward — the Haidas and Tsimshians — will cease to frighten our women, children, and old men. Then in

tillikums kopa cole illahee – Haidas pe Tshimshians – chako kopet mamook kwass nsaika klootchmans, tenas, pe olemans.  Kah

people from the north [the cold land] – Haidas and Tsimshians – will come to stop making frightened our women, young, and old men.  Then
reality he will be our father and we his children. But can that ever be? Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people

nawitka yaka mitlite nsaika papa pe naika mitlite yaka tenas.  Pe skookum mitlite okook?  Msaika Saghalie Tyee mitlite wake nsaika Saghalie Tyee!  Msaika Saghalie Tyee mamook kloshe mamook [pe kloshe] nanitch kopa msaika tillikums,

indeed he is our father and we are his children.  And can this be?  Your God is not our God!  Your God makes good and watches over your people,

and hates mine! He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the paleface and leads him by the hand as a father leads an

pe halo tikegh kloshe kopa naika tillikum!  Yaka iskum kopa yaka skookum lemah kopa tkope tillikums, pe klatawa kopa klaska kahkwa papa klatawa

and does not want to be good to my people!  He takes in his strong arms [hands] over white people, and walks with them like a father walks
infant son. But, He has forsaken His Red children, if they really are His. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have

kopa tenas.  Pe Yaka mamook mahsh Siwash tillikums, poos klaska nawitka mitlite kopa Yakas.  Nsaika Saghalie Tyee, weght

with his son.  But He has thrown away the Indian peoples, if they really are His.  Our God [Lushootseed name], also
forsaken us. Your God makes your people wax stronger every day. Soon they will fill all the land. Our people are ebbing away

mamook mahsh nsaika.  Msaika Saghalie Tyee mamook msaika tillikums elip skookum ikt sun kopa ikt sun.  Laly alki klaska mamook pahtl konaway illahee.  Nsaika tillikum mitlite elip tenas

has thown us away.  Your God makes your people more strong day by day.  Not long from now they will fill all the land.  Our people are less [more few]

like a rapidly receding tide that will never return. The white man’s God cannot love our people or He would protect them. They

kahkwa hyak klip chuck, kahkwa halo kwanesum mamook kilapie.  Saghalie Tyee kopa tkope tillikums wake mamook kloshe pe wake kloshe nanitch kopa nsaika tillikums (pe Yaka mamook kloshe nanitch) .  Klaska

like fast ebbing water, such as will never return.  God [the heavenly chief] of the white men does not make good nor watch over my people [the last phrase seems redundant and must be superfluous].  They

seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help. How then can we be brothers? How can your God become our God and

mitlite kahkwa tenas klaksta iskum halo papa, halo mamo, klaksta wake skookum klatawa kah kopa help.  Kahta nsaika skookum kahkwa kahpo [ikt tillikum]?  Kahta skookum msaika Sahglie Tyee chako mitlite nsaika Saghalie Tyee pe

are as children who have no father, no mother, they are not able to go anywhere for help.  How we can be brothers [one people]?  How can your God come to be our God and
renew our prosperity and awaken in us dreams of returning greatness? If we have a common Heavenly Father He must be

mamook chee nsaika hyas, weght iskum hiyu chickamin, pe hiyu samman?  Poos nsaika iskum konamoxt ikt Saghalie Tyee, Yaka 

make a-new us great, again to have much metal, and much fish?  If we have together one God, He
partial, for He came to His paleface children. We never saw Him. He gave you laws but had no word for His red children whose

tikegh elip, kehwa Yaka chako kopa yakas tkope tenas.  Nsaika wake kwanesum nanitch Yaka.  Yaka mahsh kopa msaika law, pe wake mahsh wawa kopa Siwash tillikum, klaksta okook

wants more [wants first], for H came to his white children.  We never saw Him.  He gave you law, and gave no law to the Indian people, they who

teeming multitudes once filled this vast continent as stars fill the firmament. No; we are two distinct races with separate origins

kopa ahnkuttie mitlite hiyu kopa konaway illahee, kahkwa tsil-tsil kopa saghalie.  Wake – nsaika moxt huloima tillikums, kopa huloima ahnkuttie

from ancient times were many on all the land, as stars in the heavens.  No – we are two different peoples, with different pasts

and separate destinies. There is little in common between us.

pe huloima alki.  Mitlite wake kahkwa kopa nsaika kopa msaika, konamoxt.

and different futures.  There is no similarity between us and you…..
To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your

Lacorp kopa nsaika ahnkuttie tillikums mitlite tamanass, pe kah klaksta mamook moosum mitlite tamanass illahee.  Msaika klatawa siah kopa memaloose illahee kopa msaikas

The bodies [I have coined a French loan-word here as the Jargon has no equivalent] of our bygone people are magical [sacred], and where the are sleeping is magical [spiritual] ground.  You travel far from the land of your dead and your
ancestors and seemingly without regret. Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of your God so that

ahnkuttie tillikums, pe nsaika nanitch msaika iskum wake tumtum kopa klaska.   Msaika law kopa ahnkuttie mitlite mamook tzum kopa stone kopa chickamin lemah kopa msaika Saghalie Tyee, kahkwa

ancestors, and we see you do not feel for them.  Your law in ancient times was wirttten on stone with the metal hand of your God, so that
you could not forget. The Red Man could never comprehend or remember it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors —

msaika wake skookum kopet kumtux.  Siwash tillikums skookum halo kwanesum mamook kumtux kopa yaka.  Nsaika law mitlite hyas kumtux kopa nsaika ahnkuttie tillikums –

you could not stop thinking [i.e. not forget].  Indian people can never comprehend it.  Our law is the great wisdom of our ancient people [bygone generations]
the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is

okook nanitch kopa nsaika tamanass man, nsaika olemans, mahsh kopa klaska kopa polaklie kopa nsaika Saghalie Tyee; pe okook mamook tzum kopa tumtum kopa nsaika tillikums.

these visions in our
written in the hearts of our people.

Your dead cease to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away

Msaika memaloose tillikums kopet mamook tumtum kopa msaika, pe illahee kah klaska mitlite tenas, kahkwa klaska klatawa kopa lapote kopa memaloose pe klatawa siah
beyond the stars. They are soon forgotten and never return. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being.

enati kopa tsil-tsil.  Klaska chako kopet kumtux, pe wake kilapi.  Nsaika halo konaway kopet kumtux okook kloshe illahee, okook ahnkuttie potlatch wind kopa klaska.

They still

Weght klaska
love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays,

mamook kloshe nanitch yakas kloshe illahee, yaka liver, yaka chuck, yaka saghalie lamonti, (untranslateable)

and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit,

pe kwanesum klaska tikegh mamook kloshe kopa klaska okook mitlite wind, pe hiyu time mamook kilapi pe klatawa pe nanitch,
guide, console, and comfort them.
pe mamook kloshe tumtum kopa klaska.

Day and night cannot dwell together. The Red Man has ever fled the approach of the White Man, as the morning mist flees

Sun pe polaklie wake skookum mitlite kunamoxt.  Siwash tillikums kwanesum klatawa siah kopa chako tkope tillikums, kahkwa smoke  klatawa

Day and darkness cannot be together.  Indian people forever run far from the coming of the White Man. as fog runs


before the morning sun. However, your proposition seems fair and I think that my people will accept it and will retire to the

kopa get-up sun.  Pe – nsaika huy-huy nanitch tenas kloshe, pe naika tumtum pe naika tillikum mamook iskum yaka, pe klaska klatawa kopa

from the rising sun.  But – your bargain looks little good [fair, but also less than good], and I feel that my people will take it, and they will go to
reservation you offer them. Then we will dwell apart in peace, for the words of the Great White Chief seem to be the words of

chee illahee msaika tikegh potlatch.  Kah nsaika mitlite huloima, kopa wake puk-puk, kopa wawa kopa Hyas Tkope Tyee mamook kahkwa wawa kopa

the new land you want to give [to them].  There we will live apart, with no quarrel, for the words of the Great White Chief are as the words to
nature speaking to my people out of dense darkness.
nsaika tillikums kopa hiyu polaklie.

my people of great darkness.
It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indian’s night promises to be dark. Not a

Mitlite cultus mahkook kah nsaika mitlite kopa alki.  Mitlite wake laly alki.  Polaklie kopa Siwash nanitch kahkwa klale.   Halo

It is unimportant [a waste, a bad bargain] where we will be in the future.  There will not be much future.  Darkness to [the twilight of] the Indians looks like blackness, without

single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man’s

ikt tsil-tsil mitlite kopa saghalie.  Wind mamook cly kopa konaway illahee.  Tamanass time mamook nanitch kopa ooakut kopa Siwash tillikums,

one star existing in the heavens.  Winds cry over all the lands.  An evil time is seen on the path of the Indian people,

trail, and wherever he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does
pe kah klaska mamook kwolann kopa chako tkope tillikums, klaska mitlite kunamoxt kopa memaloose, kahkwa mamook

and where they can hear the coming of white men, they will be together to death, as does
the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.
klootchman mowitch yaka mamook kwolann leloo.

the doe hear the wolf.
A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad

Elip hiyu tenas moon, elip hiyu tenas cole illahee, pe wake mitlite ikt kopa tenas kopa hiyu tillikums, hyas tillikums, klaksta okook klatawa kopa konaway

Yet a few moons, yet a few winters, and

land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more

illahee, pe mitlite kopa kloshe house, mamook kloshe kopa Saghalie Tyee, okook klaska wake mitlite kopa mamook cly kopa memaloose illahee kopa tillikum kopa ahnkuttie mitlite elip

powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation

hyas skookum pe mamook kloshe kahkwa msaika tillikum.  Pe kahta naika mamook kopa kopet naika tillikum?   Tillikums klatawa kimtah
follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but

tillikums, kahkwa chuck kopa saltchuck.  [untranslateable].  Msaika time kopa chako keekwulee klonas mitlite siah, pe
it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from

nawitka yaka, kehwa weght tkope tillikums, klaksta okook yaka Saghalie Tyee klatawa pe mamook wawa kopa yaka kahwa sikhs kopa sikhs, mitlite wake huloima
the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.

kwanesum.  Klonas nsaika mitlite kahpo weght.  Alki nsaika nanitch.

We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this

Alta nsaika mamook kumtux kopa msaika mahsh wawa, pe kah nsaika mamook kumtux kopa mamook nsaika mahsh wawa kopa msaika.  Pe klonas nsaika iskum yaka, naika mahsh 
condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors,

wawa kopa nsaika wake
friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and

grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead

as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people,

and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the

blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad,

happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these sombre

solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the

memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my

tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the

silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the

streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once

filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not altogether powerless.

Moha, Yalakom, Camoo and Applespring

The Moha
Entrance to the Underworld?

This formation in the centre of this view (taken from the “Bridge of the 23 Chipmunks” over the Yalakom River at the mouth of the Bridge River Canyon) is not often noticed by modern travellers, although it is the namesake of the placename appearing on the roadmap as “Moha”.  More importantly, perhaps, it is part of the local mythological landscape, its name (supposedly) meaning “land of plenty” in Stat’imcets, the language of the Lillooet/St’at’imc People.  The dark space in the formation’s centre is not a cave, but a dark-coloured rock framed by the stone lintels visible in the photo.  The whole formation is at the bottom of a talus and landslip flanking the benchland where the Moha Road (Road 40’s old name, as far as Moha anyway) and Yalakom Roads meet, so it is a bit unusual for such a distinct formation to be found underneath an alluvium – although the Yalakom’s canyon above here turns rocky just around the corner to the left, and the Bridge’s is rocky below here as well as upstream into the Great Canyon, which this location is at the oulet of. 

Photo: Mike Cleven, The Moha at Yalakom
Photo: Mike Cleven
"The Moha" at junction of Bridge and Yalakom Rivers
Photo: Mike Cleven
Though not an actual physical entrance to an underground realm, the name for this place and object is “the Moha”, and the dark stone is supposedly a gate to the underworld, “the land of plenty”, from whence some first peoples say they came (though not, as far as I know, the St’at’imc but I’m trying to find the proper version of this story to correct or amend this).  I don’t know the particulars of the St’at’imc legend here and hope to find out and amend this text accordingly.  I do know that “in the old days, there were deer people living in four large underground houses” in the Bridge River Valley over the mountain from Seton, although it was never clearfrom that story if these underground houses were mythological places (or if the deer people where a deer-clan native people of some pre-Contact historical period now unknown.  Any St’at’imc person reading this who knows is more than welcome to e-mail me with the correct version).  I doubt there is any connection between that story and “the Moha”, but I would certainly be interested to know if there were.  Certainly the locality of Moha and environs (now locally called Yalakom, but also called “Bridge River” by the local inhabitants) is more than amenable to human habitation, and might indeed have been the location of a once-large but now-forgotten ancient settlement, even as is the case with Lillooet,Seton PortageMt. Currie and elsewhere in the region.
One legend I have heard is that the benchlands adjoining the convergence of the Bridge and the Yalakom were in ancient times the site of major gatherings of native peoples from throughout the region for ceremonies lasting many weeks consisting of dance and celebration.  The St’at’imc native source for this tale was an elder speaking to one of the local landowners, whom he enjoined to never sell the land and always keep it in his family, citing tradition that the lands were on a place of great power, and  a source of great fortune to any that live on them, and that it was good fortune that these lands had come to the present owners.  Indeed, the setting of Moha – not visible easily through the photographic lens because of its geological three-dimensionality – is a dynamic and magical place, from any of several viewpoints within the vicinity.  The gorge of the Great Canyon cuts through the forested buttresses of the Shulaps Range and (severed by the Canyon from the Shulaps Range) the snowy knolls of Mission Ridge, the dark, wet winds beyond the canyon pouring out into the arid semi-desert and pine of the Yalakom and the lower valley of the Bridge. "The Moha" at the junction of Bridge and Yalakom Rivers
Photo: Mike Cleven
At the junction of the Bridge and Yalakom Rivers, just upstream from the Wash through a narrow canyon, there was once (I remember) a small store or cafe with a gas pump and one lone incandescent light above a small concrete stoop.  There are still houses on the site, which once had an orchard and (if I remember right) a couple of cabins adjoining the main building.  At one time, this was about as far as you could come up the Bridge River from Lillooet, the violent course of the river through its Great Canyon between here and the upcountry base of the Mission Mountain Road (from Seton Lake over the mountains to the goldfields, then the only way into the upper Bridge country) making anything other than horse, packtrain or foot travel impossible.  The trip by canyon trail on horseback from Moha to the upper Bridge valley – only ten miles upriver – is said to have taken 12 hours, and in some cases (due to inclement weather and/or associated river conditions) a few days.  The store must have been built at the time of road construction during the canyon in 1957-8 as a roadhouse for workmen and truckers; I only remember it vaguely and don’t think it looked that old (for those times); it may yet have been there in the 1970s when I first got back into the Lillooet Country  – if there are any older Lillooeters out there who remember and details about the store, please let me know; maybe the store dated from the heyday of the placer and hydraulic operations in the lower Bridge River and at nearby Horseshoe Wash  There was never a town at Moha, despite its appearance on maps, other than a ranch of the same name and a scattering of small local freeholds.
Photo: Mike Cleven, The Moha at Yalakom
Photo: Mike Cleven

The Horseshoe Wash

Photo: Mike Cleven, The Moha at Yalakom
Photo: Mike Cleven
The above views of the Horseshoe Wash above were extremely dangerous to take, as I stood on the sandy lip of the wash a few yards from the Moha Road (Hwy 40); the bottom of the wash in the extreme wide-angle photo at left is near straight down, and the horseshoe shape of the Wash if exagerrated.  The hoodoo-like alls of the upstream (northwest) flank of the wash are visible in the picture at right, with the pieak of Vast Mountain and the opening of the Great Canyon of the Bridge River in behind.  The junction and community of Moha are on the bench at right in the left-hand photo.
Photo: Mike Cleven, the Horseshoe Wash at Yalakom, Bridge River Country 
Photo: Mike Cleven
This is the easiest – and safest – view of the Horseshoe Wash, through which the Bridge River flows just after its convergence with the Yalakom just above the twisting canyon at upper left.  Road 40, the “Moha Road” of the old times, takes a curving route around to the right of the half-mile across Wash, which was formed by hydraulic mining operations.  Although the road closely follows the edge of the Wash, most other approaches are quite precipitous and involve unstable banks and ongoing erosion, so the place is best appreciated from the pull-out at its southern edge.  The original landscape here was a continuation of the benchland in the top-centre of the wash, with the river confined to a steep canyon of gravel and sand.
The remaining canyons just above and below the wash are rocky (although toned in rich-coloured ores), however, although only visible as a result of an hour or so’s hike down into the Wash, or from above or below via the river.  The scale of landscape alteration here is staggering once you realize this was a mine, and it’s clear that this must have been a rich operation to have gotten so big in the first place.    The benchland here is all alluvium, remnants of ancient floodings and flows and full of gravelly ore from seven rich mountain ranges in the days of the Great Melt.  I don’t know any particulars about the company or the find or what years this was in operation (the 1870s strike a chord, but I can’t remember the source) , but I’ll try and dig that up if I ever get around the Assay Office or the Chamber of Mines or anywhere else useful for that kind of thing.  Recent placer operations in the lower reaches of the Great Canyon of the Bridge in the few miles just above the convergence with the Yalakom turned out to have been extraordinarily rich, although the discovery was kept largely secret, with no stocks ever being offered.  I guess the moral of the story is when you’re making huge amounts of money daily, who needs to get investment from the stock market?  The Bridge remains famously rich and is still highly regarded by mining investors, with major explorations underway in various locations around the region, and the revival of the once-great main pits of the Bralorne Mine.  Hydraulic mining’s not likely to be back because of environmental concerns (most of the land beyond the excavated point in the picture, by the way, being privately held and probably hostile towards resumption of hydraulic mining that would wipe out their holdings!)
Photo: Mike Cleven, The Moha at YalakomThese pictures are taken from the northwestern tip of the Wash, but looking down the Bridge River as it flows into the Horseshoe Wash.  Both walls of the river from here nearly all the way down to the Bridge‘s junction with the Fraser at Sxetl were hydraulic mined in the second half of the 19th Century, as indicated by the sand walls on the farther wall of the canyon here.

Photos: Mike Cleven
Photo: Mike Cleven, The Moha at Yalakom
This view is from the south point of the Horseshoe Wash formation, which was among the largest (if not the largest) of the Gold Rush-era hydraulic operations, looking into a rocky stretch just below a twisting canyon that leads out of the Wash into the Bridge’s lower reaches from its contortions at Moha.  During the Gold Rush, the area of the lower Bridge (as far as Moha) was heavily mined by hydraulic outfits licensed by an enterprising (and locally powerful) chief of the Bridge River (‘Xwisten) Band of the St’at’imc Nation.  The Bridge still gives up records amount of gold throughout its length, including a recent find in the lower reaches of the Great Canyon of the Bridge, even though large stretches yet remain unexplored because of native ownership – or because they are under the waters of Carpenter and Downton Reservoirs.  In addition to gold, hydraulic miners also sought after molybdenum, the blue-grey ore of which is markedly visible in places along the Bridge’s banks where dozens of hydraulic mining operations had once thrived; certain other placer metals were also found, with there being rumours of such rareties as chromium and pitchblende in the then-mysterious upper Bridge River Country beyond the Great Canyon.  Jade, agate and other ores were also pulled from placer operations here, with much of the Bridge’s rocky banks lined as much by raw jade and rough agates as by granite (most of it too big to move!).
Photo: Mike Cleven
Just below the Bridge’s convergence with the Yalakom at Moha, the valley opens up for six-eight miles or so in a broad, sloping basin until its next deep gorge at Applespring Bluff and the remaining miles of canyon-throat to the Bridge River Fishing Grounds and the Bridge’s convergence with the Fraser.  Nearly all of the land in the picture at right is part of the gigantic (for BC) Bridge River Indian Reserve, which takes in most of the flanks of the Bridge River below the convergence with the Yalakom.  The snowy heights visible are not alpine, but snowed-over logging operations on the reserve.  The picture is not “tilted”, by the way – that’s the lay of the land, not an off-centre camera.


Vast Mountain – “King of the Canyon”

Photo: Mike Cleven, Vast Mountain, Bridge River Country
Photo: Mike Cleven

Vast Mtn from Moha, Photo M. Cleven
Photo: Mike Cleven
Vast Mountain was named in recent times by one of the residents of its lower slope, in the rural community of Yalakom/Moha.  I do not know its native name, and it remains ungazetted, despite its prominent position within the focal alpine bends of the Great Canyon of the Bridge River, the northwestern walls of  which are the mountain’s ramparts, some precipitous 5000 feet of near-vertica clear around beyond the Canyon along the shores of Carpenter Lake for not a few miles; hence is name – vast, despite its relatively invisible summit.  The southeastern-most peak of the 50-mile long Shulaps Range, a series of high tundra domes limning the northeastern flank of the upper Bridge River Basin – over which its craggy western faces look.  Vast Mountain is home to the Hell Creek jade mine, one of BC’s main sources of gem-quality jade for many years.  The outlet of the Great Canyon into the dryland Yalakom-Lower Bridge dale is hidden behind the forest slopes in the midground of the picture, which was taken looking up at a 45 degree angle or so just downstream from Moha, which is just to the right.  On Vast’s lower flanks near Terzaghi Dam, there are a couple of ice-climbing routes which have been documented on-line; I will dig out that URL and link it here for those interested.  Decomissioned mine and logging roads are traversible by hiking and (not advisedly) by mountain biking, but animal dangers are high in the area of the canyon, particularly in alpine areas such as Vast Mountain, so precautions should be taken.  A view of this same peak from its southwestern side is seen at lower right, above Terzaghi Dam, and in the aerial shot at left (looking north towards the Camelsfoot).

Photo by Kat
View of Bridge River Valley during flooding, late 1950s
Photo: Mike Cleven

Photo by Kat


Photo by Kat

Sloan Range (Hurley Range)

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
In the misty panorama above, the Sloan Range (or whatever you’d prefer to call it) is to the left of Downton Lake, which is the reservoir formed by Lajoie Dam.  The Dickson Range’s drier summits are to the right, and in the distance at left is the Lillooet Crown Icecap, which is the source of seven of the Coast Range’s largest rivers, including the Bridge and the Lillooet.  This large and very high range doesn’t actually have a properly gazetted name although it seems proper to call it after its most prominent peak, Mt. Sloan (at far left), which stands at its eastern apex; its rough boundaries are formed by the valleys of the Lillooet, Hurley and Bridge Rivers, and it butts up against the foreshoulders of the immense Lillooet Crown Icecap on its northwestern end.  Some have called it the Hurley Range, but some old-timers maintain this is best applied to the mountains at the headwaters of the Hurley River, southwest of Lone Goat Creek, which form the ramparts between the Bridge River Country and the deep valley of the Lillooet River.  If there’s an actual name convention for the range now – thanks to its popularity with climbers and alpinists – someone please let me know.    I’ve sometimes called it the Thiassi Range, after Mt. Thiassi at the range’s rugged core – Thiassi was king of the frost giants in Norse mythology; it happens that a neighbouring crag to Mt. Sloan is called The Frost Fiend, so maybe I’m onto something.  The other named peak that I remember is Mount Vayu, after the Hindu god of the sky. The highest of the group is Mt. Samson, in the Hurley Range subset, which stands directly above the Pemberton Meadows area of the Lillooet River valley on its westward side.   Another few panoramas of the range follow, including at left just below the source image for the panorama above, which shows Little Gun Lake in the foreground, and then closeups of certain peaks as available; the similar view at lower right also shows Big Gun Lake.  The mist may be atmospheric and mystical-looking, but it’s the result of forest fires or controlled burns in the area; these shots are from late fall (November 1, 2002) when controlled burns are often done.

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Mt. Sloan
& Greenmount & The Frost Fiend

View of Mt. Sloan from Lajoie Dam, 1990s
Photo: E. “Andy” Cleven, c. 1960

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat


Once known as the “Queen of the Bridge River Country”, Mt. Sloan is one of the principal peaks of the Bridge River goldfields country, standing at the head of the main part of the upper valley and reminiscent of the Matterhorn as one approaches up Gold Bridge along Carpenter Lake. Standing as the last peak in the promontory of mountains between the Bridge River and the “South Fork” of the Bridge (usually known as the Hurley River nowadays), Sloan dominates the view in Bralorne and Gold Bridge as well as the Gun Lakes. The view of Mt. Sloan and its neighbouring peaks just below was taken by pioneer photographer Artie Phair.  In the section on Bralorne, there are other pictures and a history of the Old Arrastra shown here, as well as other views of Mt. Sloan.  Greenmount is the knoll to the right of Sloan, and The Frost Fiend is to Sloan’s left; I don’t know if the summit at far left has a name or not; I don’t think so.
BC Archives # D-07821, the Old Arrastra at the Lorne Mine, Bralorne BC Photo: Artie Phair
BC Archives # D-07821  Photo Artie Phair
Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
Another aerial wintertime view of Sloan, this time looking more WNW towards the upper Bridge River Valley; the Lillooet Crown icefields can be seen dimly at upper left.  This picture shows the old forest fire lookout on Greenmount, at the extreme right of the ridge in the foreground; now abandoned.  There used to be a passable 4×4 road to the lookout, but I think it’s ATV or mountainbike turf now only.  The view from Greenmount is focal within the Bridge River Country; if you manage to get yourself on top of it, you get a view up most of the valleys converging on the Bralorne-Gold Bridge area; Greenmount and nearby Gwyneth Lake occupy a central position, as can be seen on the map of the upper Bridge River Country on the goldfields page.
This picture for a while now I’ve attributed to the Bendor Range; upon fiddling with the contrast a bit to bring up the relief I realize this seems to be the view of The Frost Fiend from a few miles up the Hurley from the Crossing (i.e. where the old road from Bralorne crosses the Hurley); Bralorne would be over to the right, Mt. Sloan in behind The Fiend, which is the central of the three knolls apparent here, but actually over 9000 ft in height (the valley here would be c.3000).  Older views of the Hurley Range are pretty rare – the road out even this far was well-out-of-the-way during Dad’s time up there.  Possibly this was taken at “Limey John’s” – at one time the last outpost of civilization and pretty much the end of the road, a trapper’s cabin perched atop a moose-haunted swamp, beyond which the road became something between a goat track and a war zone.  At one time not so long ago, this was one of the more remote parts of the Bridge River Country, known only to prospectors and trappers, with only the most primitive of roads through it (if you could call the old Hurley Main a road, that is!).  Because of improvements in the last couple of decades, it’s now well-known to most of the Bridge River Country’s visitors, who can drive this route up from the Coast via Pemberton during the few months a year the road is open.


Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat




Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Mt. Samson
(Hurley Range)

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Lone Goat Creek-Mt. Thiassi area

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Shulaps Range

The Shulaps Range gets its name from the St’at’imcets (Lillooet) language, meaning “ram of the bighorn sheep”.  It begins as the northwest walls of the Bridge River Canyon and runs northwest from there, separating the basin of the upper Bridge River from that of its last main tributary, the Yalakom River (which means “ewe of the bighorn sheep” in St’at’imcets); it finally converges with the Camelsfoot Range, the next range northwards (only dimly visible here), at the headwaters of the Yalakom River at Poison Mountain. The picture above runs from unnamed peaks above the Bridge River Canyonat right – the one at extreme right (2606m – 8550′) has been named Vast Mountain by residents of the valley below and behind it – to the main mass of high peaks at left, which include Rex Peak (2684m – 8810′) and Shulaps Peak (2877m – 9840′) and Big Dog Mtn (2862m – 9391′).  There are other summits in the same area which are in the same range as Big Dog, including its northward neighbour Big Sheep Mountain.  Another unnamed peak hidden behind Rex Peak here is slightly higher (2728m – 8950′) but as far as I know is unnamed, like many in this range.  The range in the foreground is a spur or flank of the Bendor Range – the peak at left is Nosebag Mtn (2242m – 7356′) , once famous for a gold prospect there which didn’t amount to much in the end (like so many), – and just to the right but out-of-frame is Mission Pass, beyond which is Mission Ridge, which forms the southeastern walls of the Bridge Canyon.  In the valley between the two ranges is Carpenter Lake, the reservoir formed by Terzaghi Dam, which is at the head of the Bridge River Canyon and at the northern foot of the Mission Mountain Road.  The Shulaps has only a few small icefields on it, and is for the most part very dry and although it gets snow, it doesn’t get the huge snowfalls of the ranges to the west of it.  Much of its leeward side has wide meadows and bowls, unlike the windward (southwest) side, which is very steep and from the upper Bridge River basin gives the impression of a wall.  

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Rex Peak
aka Rexmount

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

These two images are from the same frame – the one at left being a cropped closeup of the one at right.  Rex Peak, or Rexmount, is the triangular or conical peak just right of centre of the picture.  Like Shulaps Peak, here looking like a roundish flat summit at left, it dominates the eastward view of the range from the upper Bridge River Valley.  

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
One of the lower cliff-faces visible here is depicted just below, and while dwarfed by the peaks above it still towers impressively over the Rexmount area of the Bridge River Valley.  The road diverging from Highway 40 at right is the Marshall Lake Road, now a logging main which leads into the Tyaughton-Mud Lakes area.  The snowy mountain in the background is Nine Mile Ridge, one of the northerly and higher areas of the Camelsfoot Range.
Photo: Mike Cleven

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Vast Mountain-Hell Creek

These views are of the ungazetted peaks at the southeastern end of the Shulaps, the one on the right having acquired the name Vast Mountain as bestowed by a homesteader who lives on Michelmoon Creek, which flows steeply into the Bridge River Canyon just above Moha.  I seem to recall hearing it called “King of the Canyon”, but that may just have been my Dad’s nickname for it.

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
  The photo at left is taken from above Carpenter Lake; the photo at right from above the south wall of the canyon.  The clearcuts at right are in the upper valley of Hell Creek, another canyon-creek tributary of the Bridge River, which is also the site of a formerly producing jade mine, which is the sloping cleared patch just to the left of the clearcuts; more easily seen in certain other pics below.
Now this is the improbable part about the Hell Creek Mine – and there’s no visual proof of it in the pics so far but plenty on the maps and in the history of the mine – but access to the mine was made over the alpine pass visible to the left of the peak here – the mine is off to the right.  Access was via Blue Creek from around the Yalakom side, cutting off the main Yalakom road a few miles north of Moha; there was no possible access to the mine from below, even though logging roads have since climbed up there from the Bridge River Canyon…..some boulders of jade were choppered out, rather than trucked, in order to preserve their size and also to prevent cracking.  The snowy summit in the background here is nine Mile Ridge of the Camelsfoot Range; the low conical peak at far left background is China Head (not China Hat like some eco-pamphleteers haev put it!).
Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Photo: Mike Cleven, Vast Mountain, Bridge River Country

Photo: Mike Cleven

View of Bridge River Valley during flooding, late 1950s
Photo: Mike Cleven
Vast Mtn from Moha, Photo M. Cleven
Photo: Mike Cleven

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
These are only peripheral views of the Shulaps Range, the southernmost tip of which is the ridge in the foreground; the remains of the Hell Creek Jade Mine are the snowy patch in the col.   The lake visible is Anderson Lake, the range behind it being the D’arcy Range, a subset of the Cayoosh Range.  The ridge immediately behind it plus the peaks and ridges to the right of Anderson Lakeare components of the Bendor Range; the others to the left beyond the valley the lake is in are the Cayoosh Range, with the Joffre Range showing as the distant trio of peaks in behind.  The roundish ridge at near left is the eastern end of Mission RidgeMission Pass lies in the low gap between it and the nearest bit of the Bendor, which is the flank-ridge of Nosebag Mountain.  These shots were taken from directly over the Bridge River Canyon.


Shulaps Peak

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
Now, I’m going out on a limb here because I’m only familiar with the appearance of Shulaps Peak, the range’s highest, from the direction of the upper Bridge River basin, and this from the exact opposite, but I’m pretty sure it’s the one that;s featured in the centre of the picture at left, and at extreme left in the picture at right; sort of flat but still snaggle-topped and pretty much the highest thing around, and pretty barren and wind-swept.  People familiar with the range are welcome to correct me on this one – as with any location or description given in this whole site!  If I’m right, the trinagular peak at extreme left in the left-hand picture is Rex Peak.  The range in the left background of the left-hand picture and the centre-background of the right-hand one is the Dickson Range, the triangular peak that crowns it being Mt. Dickson, the spur at the left-hand end of the range being Mt. Penrose, above the Gun Lakes.  The low range visible in the right-hand picture, in between the Dickson Range and the Shulaps, is the Eldorado Range, with Relay Mountain being the higher round summit to the right, just behind the v-notch of the bowl/col in the Shulaps; Eldorado Mountain, just above Tyax Resort and Tyaughton Lake, is the flattish summit to its left; it’s gazetted as a peak but doesn’t look like one much from here.

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
I think the crags at left belong to Shulaps Peak in this shot of the central massif of the Shulaps; Big Sheep and Big Dog Mountainare off to the right.  The range in behind is the Bendor, with Mt. Truax at far left, Mt. Williams being the highest one and (I think) Mt. Bobb being the one in the left-centre of the background; if that’s correct guesswork, that’s the flank of Whitecap Peak at extreme left.  The mountains beyond are the Birkenhead Ranges, in the centre anyway; the tiny bit in the distance at left may be part of the Cayoosh.

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
This is very similar to the shot at upper right, showing (if I’m right) Shulaps Peak to the left and what I think is Big Dog, or one of Big Dog’s unnamed neighbours, off to the right.  In this shot, the Dickson Range is in the left background; the Warner Range, one of the highest subsets of the so-called Southern Chilcotin Mountains, is at extreme left.  The 1280×960 pixel original of this at No. 107 on
gives an amazing panorama of the ranges that make up one of BC’s newest provincial park.  Details available in the higher-resolution image include the Lillooet Crown Icecap just left of centre (here a dim white glow) and, as noted, the Warner Range at left, beyond which is the REAL Chilcotin (the Bridge River Country is NOT part of the Chilcotin, despite “urban environmentalists” renaming of it as such, and the government doggedly following suit when the park was created.  The Shulaps and Camelsfoot Ranges are technically part of the geographical unit known as the Chilcotin Ranges, but the Shulaps and the Yalakom Valley are no more part of the Chilcotin than the Dickson Range or the Eldorados are…..

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Big Dog and Big Sheep Mountains

The panorama above is wider than even a 1024 resolution screen will handle, but it’s got so much detail on its edges I didn’t have the heart to break it up; it’s a zoom-in on the 097 shot above in the Big Dog Mountain section, and is looking straight down the strike of the Shulaps Range.  Big Sheep and Big Dog Mountains are in the foreground, with Shulaps Peak and Rexmount hidden in the massif just right of centre – Rex would be the pointiest peak at the left-rear of the massif, I think, although that might be Shulaps Peak looking along the length of its spine, which appears trapezoidal in the pictures above.  The snowy lower crag at left is (I think) Yalakom Mountain, above Moha, the snowy bit to the left of it is Camelsfoot Peak down nearer Applespring.  The hazy low range in between Yalakom Mountain and the Shulaps is Fountain Ridge, the Chipuin Mtn area of the Clear Range to the left of it and behind Camelsfoot Peak amd Yalakom Mountain.  Mt. Brew is just visible beyond the central massif of the Shulaps, and to the right of the massif in the background is the Cayoosh Range.  The “near background” range at extreme right is the Bendor Range, with the low summits in the hazy mid-foreground being the lower “foothills” of Rex Peak visible in the Rexmount section above.  This picture was taken on November 2, 2002, so the full blast of winter’s not yet on the Shulaps or its neighbours; still, the snow doesn’t get much deeper than shown here due to the incredible aridity of the winds after they’ve comeover the ranges between here and the Coast; the Camelsfoot Range and this northernmost part of the Shulaps doesn’t often get much snow at all, despite incredibly bitter subarctic cold at these altitudes in the Interior.

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
The picture at right is the image from which the panorama at the head of this section was cut.  It shows the plateau at the upper end of the Shulaps well, including of course the extensive clearcuts that have taken place in this once-remote region in the last twenty years.  Poison Mountain, which is just to the left of this vantage point, is generally assigned as part of the Camelsfoot Range but it really marks a point where the Shulaps and the Camelsfoot merge; north from Poison Mountain the designation Camelsfoot Range continues past Red Mountain and to Black Dome and ultimately to one last flat butte north of that, just shy of Gang Ranch.  A couple of flat summits in the plateau area shown are named Buck Mtn and Quartz Mtn, but I’m not sure how to pick them out; we drove across here in a Ford Econoline back in ’82 or so, long before logging mains got up this far, just following old mining roads – and wound up at the bottom of the infamous Churn Creek Hill for our trouble, rutted out and waiting for a tow; this was the back end of the world in those days; now it’s probably a pretty easy drive but I haven’t tried it but might this summer.  
Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
The view from the plateau shown here takes in the whole upper Bridge River Basin, including the so-called Southern Chilcotin Mountains, and also one of the more striking views of the Bendor I’ve ever seen, but the most amazing part for me was seeing the northern horizon – a rare sight anywhere in BC! – and the deep gorge of the Fraser’s big trench cutting into the Interior Plateau to the east of here.  A gold prospect here in the late ’30s (early ’40s?) generated a lot of excitement, and there was talk of building a road to access  what would have been the new minetown near Liza Lake either via this area or another higher pass farther down the range, since the Bridge River Canyon was an unbuildable route and remained so until the 1950s.  The prospect didn’t play out and has long since been forgotten, like many, including another at Black Dome.  More about the Black Dome strike and one-time plans for a copper smelter at Poison Mountain will be found on the Camelsfoot Range page once I get time to research and write that up.



Aerial pic from Photos by Kat

Aerial pic from Photos by Kat
The panorama above is excerpted from the image at left, which was taken from above the end of Carpenter Lake above Gold Bridge, looking ENEand showing the main peaks of the Shulaps; “Vast Mountain” is hidden but its very top spires are visible in the original.  That’s Mission Ridge at far right.  Gun Creek and Tyaughton Lake are behind the ridge in the right foreground.  The bare patch beneath the last main peak at centre-right are the bluffs depicted in black-and-white in the Rexmount section.


Photo by Kat
This is a closeup of the Truax-Williams summits of the Northwest Bendor, but in the background there’s a pretty good view of the Shulaps, save for the bit that’s obscured behind the peaks at right.  The pyramidal peak at left of centre is Shulaps Peak – I think – while Big Dog and Big Sheep and the more northerly part of the massif are to the left; “Vast Mountain” above the Bridge River Canyon is mostly hidden at right.  The pass at mid-left is above Liza Lake/Liza Creek, I think, where gold hopes were once high, and through there a road might have one day been built; it’s one of the only passes through the Shulaps; the other is at Noaxe Creek, farther to the left.  The range visible hazily through that pass is not the Camelsfoot, I think, but rather the Marble Range on the other side of the Fraser, in the area of Pavilion Mountain.  Again – I think I’ve got these descriptions right – people more familiar with the range are invited to write mewith corrections and comments.


This is a view of the very northern end of the Shulaps, which is about the right-hand half of the background here; the main summit showing is (I think) Big Sheep Mtn.  This aerial is taken from over the Relay Mountain area of the Eldorados; in  the valley in between are the headwaters of Tyaughton and Churn Creeks, and off to the left the vast swamps and plateau of the country towards Big Creek, now a Provincial Park.  The snowy summits at extreme left are Red Mtn (at the picture’s edge) and Poison Mountain.  The low pyramidal summit in mid-photo is Quartz Mtn – I think – with Buck Mtn to the right of it (also flat but snow-covered here).  The snow-covered area behind these two in the distance is Nine Mile Ridge, one of the many flat summits of the upper Camelsfoot

The Bridge River Goldfields:

The Early Years

BC Archives # D-03831: Original Lorne Mine on Cadwallader Creek
BC Archives # D-03831
BC Archives # F-07583: First Cabin on Gun Creek
BC Archives # F-07583
BC Archives # A-09595: Noel Cabin above Bralorne
BC Archives # A -09595
The Bridge River Country remained virtually unexplored by non-natives until near the end of the 19th Century, its mountainous ramparts and canyoned gates keeping out idle adventurers as well as the many, many prospectors who would otherwise have explored the valley for the motherlode of Fraser placer gold that was believed to lie in the Bridge River headwaters.  Even today the difficulty of physical approach to the valley helps preserve tits isolation to a certain degree, despite the building of new roads into the district via the Bridge River Canyon and Railway Pass in addition to the old goldfields road via Mission Pass from Shalalth.  But also keeping out prospectors and settlers rather more directly than mere physical obstacles was Chief Hunter Jack of Shalalth, who claimed the valley as his own and is said to have been promised it as his personal domain during a visit by British Admiral Seymour in the 1870s, who was one of his many high-class outfitting clients.  Hunter Jack’s legendary placer mine was said to be in the Bridge River Country, which was the reason he so jealously protected his territory from prospectors and what would follow, although certain individuals such as Arthur Noel and Lazack Lajoie took up these activities in the time of Hunter Jack’s dominion over the valley, which ended by his death at Seton Lake under mysterious circumstances c.1919.  The cabin at top left is said to have been the earliest built in the upper Bridge River basin and was located in the Gun Creek area, near Minto City.  As it is rough-built in the Indian style,  it was likely of Hunter Jack’s own construction – unless it was one of the cabins of first non-native settler, Lazack Lajoie, although his residence was supposed to be over by Little Gun Lake.  Hunters and prospectors in the valley had to pay their respects to Hunter Jack, if they were tolerated at all – and many were not.  During the gold fever in the region surrounding the development of the Golden Cache Mine at Lillooet in 1898, a new wave of prospecting talent began to roam into the area, which was barely on the map for the first time – literally; older maps show rough-drawn lakes and little more, based on hearsay but no actual surveys.  Placer rewards were rich in the region, but ultimately investigations of hard rock potentials had spectacular results.  The picture at upper left is of the first drift of the Lorne-Pioneer Mine in 1898 on the banks of Cadwallader Creek, which was the foundation of the huge Bralorne-Pioneer Mine complex for which the valley became famous.  Pictures further below are of the main stope and entrance portal of the Bralorne Mine, which was developed in the 1930s a few miles downstream from the original Pioneer Mine, major development of which had taken place just prior to the onset of World War I.  Bralorne’s wealth was vast – three hundred and seventy million 1930s dollars in half a dozen years, and it kept on producing until 1971 when it was shut down due to engineering difficulties concerning the mine’s increasing depth – over a mile below sea level, from an entry at 3400′ above.  It has recently been re-opened because of engineering advances in the region, as well as changes in gold markets and resurveying of the subsurface geology in the region.
BC Archives # C-08635: Main Stope of the Bralone Mine 
BC Archives # C-08635
BC Archives # C-08637: View of Bralorne Mine Main Buildings 
BC Archives # C-08637
BC Archives # I-29085: Train entering Bralorne Mine Main Portal 
BC Archives # I-29085


Pioneer Mine

BC Archives # I-29087: View of Pioneer Mine Main Buildings 
BC Archives # I-29087
Artie Phair Photo: View of Pioneer Mine Main Buildings 
Artie Phair Postcard
This is how the entry to Pioneer Mine looked in its heyday; I’ll post a parallel view of it as it stands today (in ruins) shortly. The residential and commercial parts of the town lay beyond the buildings visible, as well as above on the left; Pioneer lies in a narrowing of the valley of Cadwallader Creek and its upper neighbourhoods verge on the alpine meadows and flanking ridge of the Bendor Range’s Mount Ferguson. Pioneer was the first of the great Bridge River mines to boom and build a company town – in the 1920s – and eventually was merged with the nearby Bralorne diggings and townsites, to which community it was effectively the uppermost neighbourhood. Although some of the mine structures still (just barely) stand, nearly all of the townsite’s residential and commercial buildings were demolished at the town’s abandonment in the early’70s – to prevent a takeover by hippie promoters in Vancouver who wanted to settle Bralorne-Pioneer’s emptied houses with pioneers of the counterculture variety. Since then, Bralorne has been eyed repeatedly for its high skiing potentials and expanses of develpable land but its isolation from major highways kept it a semi-inhabited ghost town with a small core of permanent residents and vacation owners – and a very proud identity rooted in the history of the mines and their towns. As logging activity expanded in the region even as tourism plans were repeatedly stymied, houses in Bralorne were bought up by visiting loggers and the town’s population has grown a bit, although it’s still pretty quiet. Recent re-opening of the main Bralorne mine in the midst of a general increase in mining activity in the Bridge River Country are expected to herald a rebirth of the town of Bralorne. Skiing and other forms of tourism are bound to spur further growth – market pressures and the area’s proximity to the Whistler-Pemberton tourism region and the recent promise that the once-forbidding gates of Railway Pass would soon be kept open year-round to give the Bridge River Country the greater access to the nearby Coast and Highway 99 Corridor that it has always wanted.

Artie Phair Postcard

Andy Cleven Photo



Artie Phair Photo: View of Bralorne Main Buildlings & No. 1 Townsite
Artie Phair Postcard
Bralorne was once the richest gold mine in Canada’s history and is one of the world’s deepest delvings – the main “stope” (horizontal entry) in the front centre of the picture on the left is at elevation 3400 ft. above sea level; inside the mountain the deepest parts of the mine go to over a mile below sea level. When Bralorne and Pioneer Mines were merged, their tunnel systems were integrated although it was not until recently that it was discovered that the discrepancies in the tunnel surveys had concealed the fact that a cubic mile of mountain in between the two mines had not been explored! Throughout the vicinity of Bralorne, the presence of hidden air shafts and other old openings into the mine make casual hiking extremely dangerous, so if you pay a visit be very careful while walking in the bush.  The valley’s busiest times were from the 1930s to the early ’60s, and at its peak the population of the Bridge River goldfields towns was well over 10,000 – larger than today’s Lillooet, and comparable to Squamish of only a few years ago.  Most of the Pioneer townsite was torn down immediately following the mine’s closing in 1971 (to keep the hippies from taking it over), but Bralorne has hung on in the form of a retirement and recreation town – with huge skiing potential – and throughout the area, abandoned side roads lead to older dwellings and industrial buildings.  Both pictures below are of the No. 1 Townsite, which contained most of the major commercial buildings as well as the Royal Canadian Legion, Community Hall, and fire hall; the workyard of the main stope is in the foreground in the picture on the right, and immediately below and to the right of the camera in the picture on the left, which was taken at the junction of the main Bralorne road with the one leading down to the Cadwallader Creek bridge and the mine’s main yard (and, before recent improvements, to the wild track of the Hurley Main road to the Pemberton Valley).  Note that the name “Bridge River” on the road sign refers to the BC Hydro townsite at Shalalth.
Mt. Truax and the Kingdome from Lajoie; Brexton in centre of picture 
BC Archives # C-08636: Jnctn Sign & View of Bralorne No. 1 Townsite
BC Archives # C-08636
Strange as it may seem for such a remote if once-thriving town, but Bralorne is a crossroads, even if two of the roads eventually lead to nowhere; well, not quite nowhere, but they do fade off into “goat tracks”, one towards McGillivray Pass, the other towards the Hurley Main Road; you can still get through on the latter, at the risk of your muffler and an engine mount or two.  From the signpost at left, which stands where the main road from Gold Bridge and Brexton leaves Bralorne’s “suburb” of Ogden, is at the head of a steep descent to the Cadwallader Creek bridge and the mine gates and workyards, the main road into town continuing to become the main street hidden between the buildings at centre left.  Town continues up the side of the valley as visible at right, with a further more residential area – “Second Townsite”, which also held the hospital and school and church – around the next bend in the valley; a switchback beyond that leads to “Third Townsite”, usually known as Bradian, and eventually to the then-busy town of Pioneer Mine, which was the first of the big deep hardrock mines in the Bendor Range.   All these views are much-changed today due to the disappearance of many buildings, and the logging of the main mountainsides visible at left.  The view at right was taken from up the mountainside in an area known as Honeymoon Hollow, which was outside the minetown boundaries and still has a number of private residences; the four-by-four track that continues on from here leads to Hurley Falls and was the original route into the Hurley Main before the new road was built over Gwyneth Lake from Gold Bridge.
BC Archives # I-29086: View of Bralorne Mine Bldgs & No. 1 Townsite 
BCArchives # I-29086


The Mines Hotel (“The Main Stope”)

BC Archives # E-05212: Mines Hotel, Ogden (Bralorne) I was curiously elated to find this picture in the BC Provincial Archives.  It’s not a remarkable building, nor is it very old.  It’s not even standing anymore, having burned down around 1984 in a middle-of-the-night furnace explosion.  But the Mines Hotel was imbued with the spirit of the Bridge River goldfields country until its very end, and perhaps better than anywhere else in the rambling ghost-town gave visitors a taste of what life was like during the heyday of the Bridge River mines.  Located between bends in the canyon road just outside Bralorne’s company-town limits, the Mines was the closest bar to thousands of hungry miners, who dubbed it “the Main Stope”.  In tribute to this name, above the mock hearth in the bar (there was no fireplace per se) was a toy mine, with miniature carts and miners with pickaxes, rock crushers, and sluices.  Innumerable business deals were struck here, and nearly anyone who ever visited or lived in the Bridge River country passed through its doors.  The view from the plain front stoop was incomparable – the green slope of the forested Noel Range immediately opposite, with Mt. Sloan towering off to the right.  Like thousands of others, I have sharp memories of standing outside the Mines, both drunk and sober, on hot summer days and stellar autumn nights, taking in the mountain scenery and the rich flavour of the place.  I don’t think there was a bar like it anywhere in the world, not even in the rest of the Bridge River Country.  I stayed in one of its plain 1930s-era rooms about a year before it burned down – actually the one just to the left of the fire escape – a privilege I will always cherish, as well as remember with some sadness for the loss of this seedy but wondrous old miner’s bar.

The Old Arrastra

Artie Phair Photo: The Old Arrastra with Dixon Range in background The famous “Arrastra”, or water-driven rock-crusher, today lies on its side in the undergrowth but was a noted symbol of the Bridge River goldfields for many years, dating from the earliest years of the mine’s workings (which is why I chose its picture and setting for the top of this page. During the first eight years of the mine’s opening in the early1930’s, the value of the gold ore extracted was over $370,000,000, and the extraordinary quality of the ore – rock quartz studded with huge nuggets – was without equal. Engineering difficulties to do with the mine’s increasing depth led to its closing in 1971, although advances in technology and changes in world gold markets have led to the mine’s recent re-opening. During its heyday, Bralorne-Pioneer was the largest town in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District with around 10,000 residents (more than today’s Lillooet). Both these photos are postcards by pioneer photographer Artie Phair; the picture on the left is of the main mine buildings and the “first townsite” of Bralorne’s chain of three that extend up the Cadwallader Valley to Pioneer. The view of the arrastra featured at the top of this page, with Mt. Sloan and the Frost Fiend behind (Bralorne is immediately below), and is perhaps the most evocative image of the old rock-mill: 
BC Archives # D-07821: The Old Arrastra with Sloan Range in background 
BC Archives # D-07821

Mt. Sloan


Artie Phair Photo: View of Mt. Sloan from Greenmount Lookout 
Photo: Artie Phair Postcard
Once known as the “Queen of the Bridge River Country”, Mt. Sloan is one of the principal peaks of the Bridge River goldfields, standing at the head of the main part of the upper valley and reminiscent of the Matterhorn as one approaches up Gold Bridge along Carpenter Lake. Standing as the last peak in the promontory of mountains between the Bridge River and the “South Fork” of the Bridge (properly known as the Hurley River), Sloan dominates the view in Bralorne and Gold Bridge as well as nearby Gun Lake. This view was taken by pioneer photographer Artie Phair from the summit of Greenmount, or Green Mountain, a grassy dome a couple of thousand feet lower than Sloan’s 9790 ft. which was once road-accessible because of the old fire lookout there. Immediately above in the section on the Old Arrastra is another view of Mt. Sloan, from considerably to the left of the above image.  Other views of Sloan and the other major peaks and ranges of the Bridge River Country will eventually be posted here….. 
This picture for a while now I’ve attributed to the Bendor Range; upon fiddling with the contrast a bit to bring up the relief I realize this seems to be the view of Frost Fiend from a few miles up the Hurley from the Crossing; Bralorne would be over to the right, Mt. Sloan in behind the Fiend, which is the central of the three knolls apparent here, but actually over 9000 ft in height (the valley here would be c.3000).  Older views of the Hurley Range are pretty rare – the road out even this far was well-out-of-the-way during Dad’s time up there.  It’s a fairly common sight today for a good chunk of the Bridge River Country’s visitors, who drive this route up from the Coast during the few months a year the road is open.


The Red Hawk Mine

BC Archives # G-00618: Dump Car at stope of RedHawk Mine, Bridge River goldfields
BC Archives #G-00618
Not all the mining activity in the region was monopolized by the big companies.  The picture above is representative of the many smaller outfits, both hard-rock and placer, which made the region a dynamic one for small miners and venture prospectors – who still can be found at workings in hidden bits of the basin.  I’m not sure where the Red Hawk Mine was, but by the look of the mountainside in behind I’m guessing it to be high up on the sides of the Piebiter or Hawthorne Creek drainages upstream from Pioneer (I’ll check this later).

 The Mountains of the Bridge River Country

Mt. Sloan
Mt. Dickson
Hurley Range
The Bendor

Gold Bridge

BC Archives # F-04087: View of Gold Bridge from Bralorne Road
BC Archives # F-04087
BC Archives # E-05214: Royal Hotel, Gold Bridge
BC Archives # E-05214
The old laundry building in Gold Bridge, BC Photo E. 'Andy' Cleven 
The bridge at the top of this page, over the Bridge River, gave the town of Gold Bridge its name, even though the town proper lies about a mile up to the left across the bridge.  The locality visible in the Bridge is called Haylmore (pronounced Haleymore by older locals) and beyond it in this view is a locality called Southfork, which is the location of the main operating placer mine in the area today, immediately at the mouth of the Hurley Canyon,which is the gorge wall visible in the centre-right of the picture.  The cabin of Will Haylmore, famed assay officer and mines officer for the district, lies hidden from view behind the bridge, but lay just past the bridge’s abutment.  In more recent times this area served as the location for the community baseball diamond as well as a few residences and a horse paddock, but was inundated by floods that issued from the Bridge River and the Hurley(properly the South Fork of the Bridge River, and almost as large as the main branch that comes out of Downton Lake via Lajoie Dam).  The road from the hither side of the Bridge leads towards Lajoie Dam and the Gun Lakes to the right, and Tyax and Lillooet to the right.  In the lower reaches of Hurley Canyon are a network of mine trails and old roads that lead to various small diggings in the canyon wall, and some small hardrock exploratory diggings continue there today.  It is a tough eight miles upstream to the base of Hurley Falls, which lies in a tree-shadowed gorge just downstream from the river’s confluence with the Cadwallader just below Ogden.  Gold Bridge is the largest of the Bridge River communities today, and its central location within the region along the route of the Hurley Main road from Pemberton probably means it will be the focus of increasing development in the valley in coming years.  Located near the confluence of the main Bridge River with the South Fork of the Bridge River (usually known as the Hurley River), Gold Bridge was essentially a base town for the company towns of Bralorne and Pioneer, as well as for the many small mines, lodges, and hunting outfitters and other recreational operations in the region.  A little more rough around the edges than the strict life of the company-run towns, Gold Bridge had an unhealthy supply of saloons and other such ventures, including a couple of “sporting houses”, as well as a variety of services related to the mining and outfitting businesses.  The bridge depicted below is the Gold Bridge, as it’s known, the low-lying locality shown here just across the Bridge River known as Haylmore in honour of that Gold Bridge neighbourhood’s most distinguished resident, mining recorder Will Haylmore.  The cleft in the centre-right of the picture is the opening of the Hurley Canyon, through which the South Fork/Hurley runs after its confluence with Cadwallader Creek about eight miles up (the road past Brexton to Bralorne runs along the left side of the canyon rim).  Just below the canyon’s mouth is a rich placer claim still in operation today.


BC Archives # I-22302, Bridge over Bridge River at Haylmore, Gold Bridge (called the Gold Bridge) 
BC Archives # I-22302
This is another view of the bridge over the Bridge River that gave the town of Gold Bridge its name, even though the town proper lies about a mile up to the left across the bridge; apparently it was once painted “gold” (yellow) although whether this was to salute the town’s name or was the source of the name I’m not sure.  The locality visible in the Bridge is called Haylmore and beyond it in this view is a close-by locality called Southfork, which is the location of the main operating placer mine in the area today, immediately at the mouth of the Hurley Canyon ,which is the gorge wall visible in the centre-right of the picture.  The cabin of Will Haylmore, famed assay officer and mines officer for the district, lies hidden from view behind the bridge, but lay just past the bridge’s abutment.  In more recent times this area served as the location for the community baseball diamond as well as a few residences and a horse paddock, but was inundated by floods that issued from the Bridge River and the Hurley and covered in gravel and other debris (the Hurley is properly the South Fork of the Bridge River, and almost as large as the main branch that comes out of Downton Lake via Lajoie Dam).  The road from the near side of the Bridge leads towards the Dam and Gun Lake to the right, and Tyax and Lillooet to the right.  In the lower reaches of Hurley Canyon are a network of mine trails and old roads that lead to various small diggings in the canyon wall, and some small hardrock exploratory diggings continue there today.  It is a tough eight miles upstream to the base of Hurley Falls, which lies in a tree-shadowed gorge just downstream from the river’s confluence with the Cadwallader; if Hurley Falls were more visible it would be one of BC’s more famous waterfalls, as it’s very powerful and thunderous; worth the hike from Bralorne if you can find the way.
The Hurley Canyon viewed from the Gun Lake Road near Haylmore-Gold Bridge, BC Photo E. 'Andy' Cleven 
Photo: E. “Andy” Cleven