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Photographer's Note

These rocks, in the deadly part of the Fraser River known as Hell's Gate, have been worn to a smooth finish from the water, like hands on a wooden bannister.

The Fraser River was named after Simon Fraser, who believed it to be the Mackenzie River and wanted to see if it reached the ocean. He led an expedition of 24 men from Fort George (now Prince George, and a fort Fraser had established) in 1808 on behalf of the North West Company with this aim. First Nations people told him that it was very treacherous, but he was perhaps somewhat under-prepared for what the river held: treacherous cliffs, waterfalls, slippery slopes. Even portaging the canoes around the difficult sections was incredibly dangerous. After thirty six days of hair raising travel, with gun accidents, broken canoes, missing men, and moments gripping rope dangling over certain death, Fraser and his crew reached very close to what he had hoped for, an open route to the ocean. However, with Vancouver Island blocking his view, and the Cowichan First Nation band chasing him away, he had to flee north again, under pursuit. It took only thirty seven days to return to Fort George, which shows how slow and treacherous the descent was... or how fearsome the Cowichan were at his heels!

Fraser had found the lost crew members, so everybody survived. He viewed the trip as a failure, having no route to recommended to the North West Company, but his journals were published (like Mackenzie's), and he received some interest for them. If you can find a copy, it is good reading today, too.

I have another picture posted on the Fraser River, with the First Nations preparing salmon for smoking.

I wonder... were the rocks this smooth when Simon Fraser looked at them, almost 100 years ago?

***Update: Another source maintains it was the Haida who chased Fraser back to Hope. The Haida's home is the Queen Charlotte Islands, way up north, but they certainly travelled and traded in this region, and had a fearsome reputation. Vancouver Island, a decent distance by canoe from here as well, is home to the Cowichan band. How they got so far in canoes carved from single trees is a marvel.***

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Viewed: 2022
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Additional Photos by Andrew Coppin (Boots) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 67 W: 15 N: 96] (495)
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