After our soup, we headed off to Old Hazelton. First we cross the Hagwilget suspension bridge.
Hazelton, British Columbia
|— Town —|
|• Type||Municipal incorporation|
|• Mayor||Alice Maitland|
|• Total||2.80 km2 (1.08 sq mi)|
|Elevation||305 m (1,001 ft)|
|• Density||96/km2 (250/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC−8)|
|• Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC−7)|
The Hazelton area comprises two municipalities (the Village of Hazelton and District of New Hazelton), three unincorporated settlements (South Hazelton, Two Mile and the Kispiox Valley), four First Nations’ villages: 3 of which are of the Gitxsan people - (Gitanmaax, Glen Vowell and Kispiox) and 1 of the Wet'suwet'en people - (Hagwilget).
First Nations historyThe Hazeltons are home to the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en First Nations.
Old Hazelton and Two MileHazelton is one of the oldest settlements in Northern British Columbia; its European settlement dates back to 1866 when the Collins Overland telegraph went through.
Omineca Gold Rush of 1869-73. Besides the hunt for riches, there was one other important reason to visit: it had the only proper hospital for hundreds of miles in any direction. One of its other, less appreciated, distinctions was in having dozens of roaming, foraging and howling sled dogs, as nearly everyone had their own team and many were allowed to run free. Transportation options got better in 1891 when the Hudson's Bay Company’s sternwheeler Caledonia arrived from Port Essington. Being the head of navigation on the Skeena, Hazelton was to play host to more than a dozen sternwheelers throughout the next twenty-two years.
Two Mile was a community two miles out of Hazelton. During the gold rush and rail construction, it was home to a roadhouse and a prosperous red-light district.
New Hazelton and South HazeltonGrand Trunk Pacific Railway would be coming through near Hazelton, another flurry of excitement erupted and hundreds of settlers poured into the district, buying whatever land they could get a hold of. Everyone was certain there was a fortune to be made and Hazelton was widely advertised as the "Spokane of Canada". What made Hazelton even more attractive was her mines, the Silver Standard and the Rocher de Boule. In 1911 two rival town-sites, Robert Kelly’s New Hazelton and the Grand Trunk Pacific’s South Hazelton both came into existence and competed to sell the most lots. Thus, the original Hazelton was called "Old" and together they became known as the "Three Hazeltons". Where the railway station would be built was an issue for many years until both South and New Hazelton received one.
The first car in Hazelton 1911Seattle. It did not arrive by rail, which wouldn't be completed from Prince Rupert until 1912, nor did it come in by sternwheeler. It was brought in overland. None of the people in town believed that story, as it was nearly impossible to walk into Hazelton overland in 1911, much less drive. Everyone went to go see the car where it was parked in front of the Hazelton Hotel and questioned the owner, PE Sands, on how he had accomplished the feat. At a banquet held in his honor later that evening, Sands revealed his secret. He had brought along two mechanics and they had often had to disassemble the car and load it unto mules. Clearly they'd had enough of doing that by the time they reached Hazelton. They packed the car up on a sternwheeler and went to Skeena Crossing (Gitsegukla) where the car was loaded on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway for the trip to Prince Rupert. There the car was loaded on a coastal steamer for the trip back to Seattle. Note: This automobile is now on display at the Kittitas County Historical Musem in Ellensburg,WA.
The Union Bank robberies of 1913 and 1914
last spike of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway was being driven 180 miles away in Fort Fraser. Little did anyone know that an equally historic event was about to happen right there in New Hazelton, one that would be remembered in hundreds of Canadian history books. Luckily, someone was there with a camera. Those pictures would become among the most famous of that era in British Columbia.
Home of legendary charactersHazelton was home to several famous and infamous characters.
CatalineCataline, the most famous packer in British Columbia, served Hazelton throughout most of his career and also chose to retire there and died at the Hazelton hospital. People who knew his love for his mules, which he called his "ponees", were not surprised to hear what his biggest concern about the afterlife was. On the night before he died, Cataline asked his nurse if she believed that God would let him have a least one "ponee" in Heaven. When she replied that she believed He would, Cataline was satisfied and never spoke another word. He is buried at the Hazelton cemetery.
Willie MansonWilliam "Willie" Manson came to Canada from the Shetland Islands in 1869. In 1871 went to the Omineca district and staked a claim on a small stream that ran into Babine Lake. His claim was one of the richest ever found in that area at Manson Creek. Wille, like most of the other gold rush miners, would buy his supplies in Hazelton. Besides having one of the richest claim, one other thing set Willie apart, he was careful with his money. Willie worked the claim himself and then sold out to a mining syndicate and returned to the Shetland Islands. Back at home, he couldn't help but notice the poverty of some of his countrymen and he decided to do something about it. Using his gold rush wealth, he purchased large flocks of sheep from Scotland and sold them to his neighbors at cost and on credit. Then he built a wool processing mill and a knitting mill, which employed many more Shetland Islanders.
"Dutch" Sperry Cline"Dutch" Sperry Cline was a decorated Boer War veteran, who spent his many years in Hazelton in several different occupations, from mushing the huskies down the frozen Skeena River to deliver the mail, to canoe freightman, mine boss and frontier policeman.
Black Jack MacDonellBlack Jack MacDonell, who owned the Ingenika Hotel in Old Hazelton had been known from San Francisco to Dawson City as the "king of saloon keepers". In September 1911 on the eve of the federal election, Black Jack kept the Ingenika open, even though it was against the law to do so, and served free drinks all night long. Soon he had many happy and talkative customers who were quite willing to tell him who they were going to vote for. Black Jack didn’t want Laurier re-elected because of his stance on Free Trade, so every customer that commented he was going to vote Liberal found themselves sitting in the jail on drunk and disorderly charges the next day, while the others who were voting Conservative were all free men.
Harry Tracy’s horseThere was even a famous horse, Tracy who was named after the Pacific Northwest outlaw Harry Tracy who had stolen him as a colt. With Oregon lawmen hot on his trail, Harry Tracy was forced to abandon the horse, which was returned to its owners and eventually ended up working on a Pat Burns cattle drive from the Chilcotin country before finally winding up in Hazelton.
A really nice day. It takes me most of 3 hours to get here, but I was just hangin around getting smelly anyway. On my way back, I stopped at the Village of Gitseguecla.
I'll post some pix of totems tomorrow.