Ever wonder why Hope exists, and how it received such an evocative name?
In 1848, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) built Fort Hope as a key transfer point linking the Fraser River to Fort Kamloops. The new fort represented the HBC’s best “hope” of replacing fur trading routes lost to the Americans after the 49th parallel was established in 1846. The trail was completed in 1849 and served as the HBC’s critical fur trade route between B.C.’s coast and interior for more than a decade.
From 1849 to 1860, brigades comprised of hundreds of men and pack animals carried many tons of cargo over this rugged mountain trail. Valuable furs from the B.C. Interior travelled west on the trail, were loaded onto boats at Fort Hope, then shipped downriver to Fort Langley and world markets beyond. On the return trip, food and supplies were carried east over the Cascades to re-supply Interior forts. The trail played an important role in the early development of British Columbia and Canada.
The HBC Trail was originally a First Nations trail used for hunting and east-west trade. An Upper Similkameen chief at Otter Lake named “Blackeye” described the route to A.C. Anderson (an HBC employee) in 1846. Stó:lo and Nlaka’pamux guides helped to locate the route from Fort Hope, over Manson’s Ridge and Mount Davis, connecting with Blackeye’s Trail across the Tulameen Plateau.
The HBC Trail of 1849 is now a designated heritage trail protected by the province.
A local non-profit society, the Hope Mountain Centre, has re-opened the trail for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
Four new campsites were built in 2012, and 50 kilometres of the original trail have been cleared and flagged. Funding comes from the New Pathways to Gold Society and Recreation Sites and Trails BC, with the support of a passionate group of volunteers.
For trail info visit hopemountain.org