Vanderhoof group builds path to showcase pre-European north central B.C.

Residents and visitors of Vanderhoof can soon get a glimpse of local living before European contact through a leisurely stroll.

A Carrier fisherman with salmon basket.

A Carrier fisherman with salmon basket.

Residents and visitors of Vanderhoof can soon get a glimpse of local living before European contact through a leisurely stroll.

On over 20 acres of land southwest of Nechako Valley Sporting Association’s grounds, some remnants of the Carrier fishing village of Noonla remain undisturbed by modern development to this day. The NVSA, having recently acquired the property, is looking to build a 3.5-kilometre self-guided trail that showcases archaeological features such as culturally modified trees, fish cache depressions, and pit dwelling remains, said NVSA director Paul Collard.

“I think it’ll be interesting because most people don’t have any idea how people [in the area] used to live,” Collard said. “That’s the only piece of land left not disturbed by industry use.”

To be accompanied by interpretive signage, the proposed trail will be built entirely with hand tools — without motorized excavation of any kind — to preserve the archaeological values, said NVSA director George LaBrash, who presented the project to Vanderhoof’s district council with Collard on Nov. 7. Chief and council of Saik’uz First Nation supported NVSA’s acquisition of the property, and the First Nation community would be involved and consulted throughout the project, he said.

Though only a preliminary archaeological impact assessment was conducted on the site, oral accounts from Saik’uz elders in the 1970s and 1980s provided snippets of what Noonla may have looked like, said LaBrash, an archaeologist and retired teacher who managed Saik’uz’s adult learning program and studied the once-thriving Chinlac village at the confluence of Stuart and Nechako Rivers.

Noonla, situated by a shallow portion of the Nechako River, was a river crossing location for the “grease trail” indigenous trading route that extended west to Bella Coola and north to Stuart Lake. Grease refers to the trading staple Eulachon, a small fish that was rendered into fat — drops of which often fell onto the trail.

Before the construction of Kenney Dam, the location was also a spawning area for Chinook salmon and an important fish harvesting site for local indigenous people.

“I believe in about 1903, ice blockage on the Nechako flooded out Noonla, leading to loss of lives,” LaBrash said. “Survivors decided to no longer have a permanent settlement there as a result.”

Abandoned as a permanent home, the site was then used occasionally for teaching young people how to put up fences to harvest some salmon. Now it’s not used by the local aboriginal people, as a general rule, he added.

“Our objective is to try to provide a window into the past, for not only local residents and also school children and visitors and anyone who would be interested to get an idea of the area’s prehistory,” LaBrash said.

With the possibility to be connected with the nearby Redmond wetland conservation and under-development trail system, the project can help expand local tourism and provide education opportunities for students, he added. A traditional pit dwelling would be added to the site for the project’s phase two.

“We hope that this will become a fairly well-used resource, particularly for Grade 4 to 6 students dealing with Pre-European contact in this area,” LaBrash said.

“This site, being so close with intact surface features, will give the little people a chance to see what life was like before Europeans.”

In the winter, the new trail can add to NVSA’s existing system as a dog-friendly cross-country skiing trail.

Totalling $35,000 for local labour costs in building the trail and accompanying amenities, the project’s budget depends on grant funding approval from the B.C. Rural Dividend program.

 

Just Posted

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. Northern Health confirmed it has the lowest vaccination rates amongst the province’s five regional health authorities. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Vaccination rates in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St James well below provincial average

COVID-19 immunization clinics for youth 12+ coming up in Fort St. James

Steve McAdam (left) is studying substrate conditions in the Nechako River and how they impact sturgeon eggs. The work will help design habitat restoration measures, said McAdam. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Sturgeon egg studies to help inform future habitat restoration

“It’s an interesting, challenging issue,” says Steve McAdam

Saik’uz First Nation Coun. Jasmine Thomas and Chief Priscilla Mueller speak about the need for addiction treatment facility near Vanderhoof, March 2021. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof addiction treatment centre tries again with ministry support

Agriculture minister insists she is not interfering in land commission

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read