Emory Bar RV Park
 

History

Emory Creek - Home of the Lost City

  The route between Hope and Yale holds a hidden secret - a lost city that faded into the woods with the coming of the CPR.  Just five kilometres south of Yale, visitors travelling through the Fraser Canyon will come across Emory Creek where once stood a bustling frontier town.
 
  In 1858 over 25,000 men had travelled up the Fraser River staking claims and working the sand bars in an attempt to strike it rich, and 500 men are recorded to have spent the winter of 1858-1859 camped at Emory's Bar in tent and shingle dwellings.  Although considerable gold was found at Emory's Bar, the mother-lode was never found.  Emory again came into prominence in the fall of 1879 when it became the Canadian Pacific Railway's western terminus.  Emory City soon consisted of 13 streets, 32 blocks, and 400 lots of "goodly" dimensions.  The Inland Sentinel Newspaper, the first on the mainland, erected a two story building on Front Street and the Emory City Sawmill was producing 21,000 feet of lumber in a 24 hour shift.  Two hotels, nine saloons, a brewery, blacksmith shop, general  
  store, residences and "less reputable businesses" rounded out Emory City's economy.

By late 1881, it became obvious that the CPR would make Yale, located 5km upstream, their centre for railroad activities and Emory City was abandoned.  By the late 1890's people travelling through the area said that not a trace of the city could be found as the forest had reclaimed the site.

Travelers can still explore the history of Emory Creek at the Hope River General Store, discover the workings of the Chinese miners and take a break in a peaceful park that was once part of the Cariboo Wagon Road.

Even today visitors to Emory Creek can catch gold fever at the annual Fraser River Gold Panning Competition and Metal Detecting Competition hosting by Yukon Dan, August 28-30, 2009.  For more information on the competition see www.yukondan.com.
 

Yale's Pioneer Cemetery

  Yale's Pioneer Cemetery is the final resting place for many of the province's pioneer souls.  A tour of the cemetery, just south of Yale, will touch the hearts of visitors as they hear the tragic stories of the many pioneers who bravely faced life in the frontier.

Located about two minutes south of Yale and right across the Trans Canada Highway #1 from the Spirit Caves Trail, the cemetery is nestled in a lovely setting - a lush green meadow overlooking the Fraser River.

The headstones are scattered throughout the cemetery and are lovingly maintained by members of the Chrane family and the Yale Historical Society.  Some of the oldest headstones that can be seen today date back to 1862.  However, through continued excavating and landscaping, older ones may still be unveiled as the cemetery was established in 1858.

One of the more prominent headstones lies in the centre of the cemetery, dedicated to the Teague and Chrane family, who have a long ancestry attached to Yale.

Visitors can tour the historic cemetery on their own or book group walking tours to learn more of the history and symbolism behind many of the headstones.  Cemetery tours are by appointment.  Visitors to Yale can also join scheduled tours of the original Yale town site.  Contact the Yale Museum at 1.604.863.2324 for more information.


Onderdonk's Way

There are six marvellous albums in the collection of the British Columbia Archives containing over 200 photographs that document, in one way or another, the building of the railway from Port Moody on Burrard Inlet to Craigellachie near Eagle Pass between 1880 and 1885.  A complete exhibition of every image in these albums would only only tell us a great deal about the engineering achievement of this huge public work, but would also tell us something about the various people who brought it about.  The albums were assembled by the family of Andrew Onderdonk, who was the contractor for the building of the railway for the Canadian government.

  On one level, the exhibition Onderdonk's Way offers a standard narrative of the heroic building of a portion of a great railway.  For the people of British Columbia, this project was nothing less than one of the conditions of this province's entry into the Canadian Confederation.  From then on, Canada could claim all the lands a mare usque ad mare, from sea to sea.  The expression bespeaks the Imperial ambitions of the time and Canada's role within the British Empire.
 

It was a time of great hope and great expectations.  The railway link lessened the young Province's dependency on the United States and reinforced Canada's self-sufficiency and new-found nationhood.  No longer would travelers to British Columbia have to reach their destination via San Francisco.

Beyond the political level, the building of the railway and the images related to it affirm the cultural beliefs of a time and place.  We may read the history today with disbelief and horror and, paradoxically, with a great sense of price in what was achieved.  The majority of British Columbians, for instance, were racially prejudiced against the Chinese workers who came to Canada by the thousands.
 

Without Chinese labour, the railway in British Columbia could not have been built during the time allotted.  The indigenous people were looking upon as indigent, although many of them also helped to build the railway.  Such views were expressed by the elected political officials of the day in Victoria and in Ottawa, as well as in the press.  Civilization was synonymous with having Christian beliefs and values.

The construction of a public work such as a railway was fraught with danger.  Safety standards are minimal.  The building of the railway meant accidental death or injury on a weekly basis to a workforce that, for the most part, was inexperienced and unaccustomed to the nature of the work.  And the workforce required was enormous.  At one point, it was believed that 6,000 to 7,000 men were employed in British Columbia on the Onderdonk contracts.  Of that number, half or more were imported Chinese labourers.

  The photographs also reflect a prevalent attitude towards nature at that time.  The right-of-way was literally blasted through the landscape. Nature, as far as railway building was concerned, was an obstacle to the integration of British Columbia with the rest of Canada.  British Columbia would only be settled if that obstacle was removed, or if nature was 'civilized' and made to yield its mineral and agricultural promise. Until nature was 'tamed' by the work of pioneers and settlers, it was an obstacle to 'progress'. This was an age when the right to alter nature was not questioned by held as a right of a mission.  This was not a time that contemplated environmental impact studies. So nature was scarred, unalterably, but nature would remain a great power to reckoned with, as very flood, rock slide, avalanche and forest fire insistently made clear.

Just as very tunnel, every bridge and every cutting represents a strategy in the struggle again the natural obstacle, the portraits of locomotives, with their human operators, are symbols of power and technology and the means by which this conquest was to be realized.

Onderdonk's Way, then, is the way of our 'progress' through the rugged terrain of British Columbia, and an expression of a determined ambition that came at a very high price.  The end justified the means, as it often does today.