An outstanding biography of James Teit, author of The Shuswap

It is an exceptional book about a remarkable man who never received the recognition he deserved for his major input to what was then the new science of anthropology. Written by University of Victoria professor emeritus Wendy Wickwire, At the Bridge, not only describes James Teit’s extraordinary life and achievements, but it also explains how his employers took him advantage of him and why the academic community discounted his vast contributions.


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Shuswap’s Hunt family totem pole’s fascinating history

photo by Doug Armstrong

It is an incongruent sight, a giant totem pole on the shoreline of Shuswap Lake near the mouth of Bastion Creek. The pride and joy of Strata K 46 at the Totem Pole Resort, this massive work of art has a remarkable lineage and a fascinating history that is well documented in the book by retired physician Doug Armstrong called “Giants of the Pacific Northwest – The Hunt Family Totem Poles.”

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More stories about Scotch Creek prospectors

 The forest service burned down all the old cabins form the 1930s except this one, which was last used by a prospector in the 1990s.

The dream of striking it rich in the Scotch Creek valley attracted the interest of more than one eccentric prospector. Records indicate that in addition to Billy Henstridge, George Bourgeois and the short-lived placer mine operation, there were other leases in the 1930s and 40s. The list includes Mr. Greenwood and Henry Danroth, Charlie Johnson, Les Carson, F.W. Redforn, Cyrus Flanders, Bob Bristow and the original bushman of the Shuswap, Bunny (Theodor) Bischoff.

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Stories of those who were lured by gold

Emerging from George Hood’s cabin with a 19576 newspaper addressed to George

While little is known about those who panned for gold in Scotch Creek during the first and second gold rushes, there are still old-timers around who remember the solitary men who lived in crude cabins and barely made wages in their quest for the motherlode. Except for the walk on the flat ground just south of the forks, searching for their cabins has been challenging, due to the steep ground, fallen trees and thick bush. It is no doubt that these gold miners were a tough breed who could endure the hardships, the loneliness, and strenuous work.

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The third Scotch Creek gold rush

 Chinese diggings at Scotch Creek

After three exploratory hikes in the Scotch Creek gold country, I look forward to at least another one because there are still more historical sites to document. So far, the remains of four Chinese cabins and more recent cabins have been located, along with many examples of old hand diggings including large piles of rocks, pits and channels. North Shuswap old-timer Larry Speed was my guide for a tour of the area near the forks, where as a youngster he had seen the abandoned placer mining operations that began in the early 1930s.

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Shuswap gold rush history fever

The remains of William Lee’s cabin can still be found adjacent to the creek named after him, where he likely tried to pan for gold.

1858 gold notice

With news that the next exhibit in the R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum will be about gold, I began doing some research into the Shuswap gold rush that began as early as 1865, when miners began heading to the Big Bend on the Columbia River via Seymour Arm and to Cherry Creek. While the story of the gold rush town of Ogdenville, which was later named Seymour City, is well known, there is little information available about the gold mining that occurred in Scotch Creek likely by miners returning empty handed from the Big Bend.
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Fostering a Secwepemc sense of place

Lower Adams Lake – Cstélen

Words are not enough to do justice to this story. You need to be there and not just once, but regularly so that it becomes a tradition for you. As Secwepemc educator and historian Robert Mathew described, that is what is needed to foster a sense of place, which is the goal of the place name project he and many others have been working on for the past 20 years. Continue reading

Everything Shuswap finally off to press

Kathi Cooperman enjoys the spectacular view from the top of the Blind Bay Bluffs. This photo by Jim Cooperman appears in the beginning of the book.

Everything Shuswap, the first comprehensive book about our glorious Shuswap region, is finally off to be printed and will be available soon. The process to create this book began 12 years ago in 2005 when I began writing these columns, which were re-written and combined with other material for the manuscript. Developing the manuscript into the final book was a monumental effort that involved: reviews by local and provincial experts; the collection of many images and historic maps; the preparation of unique maps, graphs and tables; the excellent design and layout by Shuswap Press; extensive fund raising, and seemingly endless proofreading.
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150 years ago in the Shuswap

Shuswap Chiefs in Victoria, 1867 for Queen’s birthday, photo by Frederick Daily courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives

As communities prepare celebrations to commemorate Canada’s 150th year since Confederation, it is a good time to reflect on what the Shuswap was like in 1867. By then, the Secwepemc people had adapted to the impacts of the European invasion, but their numbers were fewer because of smallpox and other diseases brought by the miners. The fur trade, which had passed its peak in 1827, still continued, as the 1867 Hudson’s Bay Company journal has two entries about marten skins purchased from “Adam’s Lake Indians.”
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Arthur Manuel’s Legacy

Arthur Manuel addresses a group of activists in 2014

The Shuswap lost a true community leader and a powerful, effective advocate for Indigenous rights and title last month, when Arthur Manuel passed away at the age of 66. Thankfully, he wrote two books that provide a better understanding of the over two centuries of Canadian injustice that First Nations have had to endure and what actions are needed to rightfully address the problems.
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