The small town of Yale was once the largest city north of San Francisco and west of Chicago.
Originally established in 1848 as a Hudson’s Bay trading post, Yale grew to an estimated 30,000 people during the 1858 gold rush. With the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road in the 1860s, Yale became the terminus for one of the largest sternwheeler routes in North America and bustled with the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s.
Today, only a few of the original buildings remain in what was once a booming gold rush town. At Yale Historic Site, you can visit the museum where artifacts and collections from Yale’s historic past are on display in the Creighton House, an original home built in the 1870s.
Visit the Living History Tent City to relive life in the 1860s. There’s a general store, jail, saloon, Chinese boarding house, gold commissioner tent, medical tent, and blacksmith tent.
From May 3 to Sept. 30, Yale Historic Site presents Christopher L. Murphy’s exhibit The Sasquatch Mystery. The display features plaster casts of footprints, skull replicas, and detailed charts and scientific posters.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of one of the oldest churches in B.C. St. John the Divine was built in 1863 and houses the original altar pieces as well as Enduring Threads, a collection of antique linens hand-stitched by the students of All Hallows girls school. Yale Historic Site is hosting an anniversary celebration Aug. 17-18 with guided walking tours and historic reenactments. On Aug. 17, there will be a guided bus tour of various points along the Fraser Canyon section of the Cariboo Wagon Road, as well as a salmon barbecue. A special church service takes place on Aug. 18 followed by high tea on the Ward House grounds. After being used as a private residence for many years, the historic 1880s Ward House recently went through an extensive conservation process and will be open to the public for guided tours starting this spring.
You can also try your hand at gold panning, either on site or on the banks of the Fraser River. Gold pans and guide books are available locally.
For history buffs, walking tours of the old town sites and Pioneer Cemetery can be booked through the Yale Historic Site or self-guided by purchasing a guide book.
Spirit Caves Trail is located directly across from the Pioneer Cemetery on Highway 1. One of several day hikes in the Fraser Canyon, it offers a spectacular view of Yale.