Celebrating Fraser Canyon history

Event Aug. 17-18 commemorates the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Cariboo Wagon Road, from Yale to Spuzzum

Sarah Penner of In the Garden plants a shrub in the Beth Clare Memorial Garden at Yale Historic Site. The garden restoration project will be completed in time for the Cariboo Wagon Road 150th anniversary celebration this weekend.

Yale Historic Site and Hope Mountain Centre are teaming up for a weekend of activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Cariboo Wagon Road, from Yale to Spuzzum.

Declared the “eighth wonder of the world” when it was completed in 1865, the Wagon Road played a key role in the gold rush economy of the 1860s and in the development of the new colony of British Columbia.

“It’s an interesting part of history,” said Yale Historic Site supervisor Deb Zervini. “We thought this would be a  great event to entice people to come up and check out this really cool place. It’s a community event that brings together people from all areas of the region. There’s something for everybody.”

On Aug. 17, Hope Mountain Centre will lead a historic guided tour of the Cariboo Wagon Road. The bus will take participants up the canyon to see Lady Franklin Rock and some surviving sections of the Wagon Road that are still in remarkable condition. Near the Fraser River, people will also see traditional salmon-drying racks used by the Yale First Nation and others, attesting to the ancient traditions that continue in the canyon today. After a scenic lunch beside the Fraser, the bus will head up the highway to Alexandra Bridge before returning to Yale Historic Site for a salmon barbecue at 6 p.m. hosted by the Yale and District Ratepayers. Tickets to the barbecue are $15 in advance, or $20 at the door, and are available through Yale Historic Site or Barry’s Trading Post. There will also be guided walking tours of Historic Yale starting at 10 a.m. and a performance of “Tales and Trails of the Canyon” by Hope Performing Arts Community Theatre at 7 p.m. The show is included with a barbecue ticket or by donation at the door.

On Aug. 18, St. John the Divine will be hosting historian John Mitchell’s talk, “B.C.’s Road to Gold: The story of the Cariboo Wagon Road” at 11 a.m. At 12:30 p.m., there will be a re-dedication of the Cariboo Wagon Road in the park at the foot of Albert and Front streets in Yale. A park enhancement project, which includes a new National Historic Site plaque, information kiosk and picnic table, was just completed through a partnership between Parks Canada, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Emil Anderson Maintenance, Province of B.C., Fraser Valley Regional District Area B, Yale & District Historical Society, and the Yale & District Ratepayers. Following the re-dedication ceremony, there will be an open house and refreshments on the grounds of the newly conserved Ward House at 1 p.m.

Throughout the weekend, visitors can check out the Living History Tent City, participate in self-guided walking tours of Historic Yale, learn how to pan for gold, eat bannock, and watch historical re-enactments by Black Powder and the Royal Engineers.

For more information on the weekend event, call 604-863-2324, visit historicyale.ca or email info@historicyale.ca

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