The Angel of Mt. Cheam spreads her wings on the side of the mountain, overlooking Agassiz. This angel forms more often than not in the spring or summer as the snow melts off the mountain and has been featured in many photographs and even a postcard. (Contributed photo/Sarah Gawdin)

As snow melts, angel emerges once again on Mt. Cheam

Many stories surround the snow and the mountain herself

It’s a different kind of snow angel and a familiar sight in Agassiz-Harrison.

The angel on Mt. Cheam has made her appearance again to watch over the Fraser Valley from the side of the mountain. While not visible every year, the angel is formed when the snow melts off of Mt. Cheam during the summer and forms an angelic shape in one of the mountain’s ravines, where some snow remains – no matter how hot it is – until winter comes to cover her again.

Some say the size of the angel is a barometer for how well the land will produce this year while others say its presence indicates whether or not fish will be scarce. Still more say she protects the valley from flooding.

If the angel were to dry up completely, locals say it could mean trouble ahead – which, depending on who you ask, varies from bad luck to a plague to the end of the world itself.

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The various pieces of lore on the angel aren’t the only legends surrounding the mountain or the snow on it. Mt. Cheam herself (named Lhilheqey), according to Stó:lō legend, is married to Mt. Baker, and together they had three boys, who were older, and three girls.

After the boys grew up, she had the three girls and decided to go back home to watch over her people, the Fraser River and the fish that feed the people. Sometimes, if the snow isn’t completely melted, the head of a dog (Sqwema:y) that followed her home can be seen behind her. Legend says she told the dog to go home, but it stayed.

Regardless of whether you believe one legend, the other, both, or neither, the snowy figure is a sight to behold and a sure sign of the warmer season.


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adam.louis@ ahobserver.com

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