I left with Bob on the 12:30 Ferry from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay and driving through the lower mainland of Vancouver on Hwy 1 we made for Hope. One of the little but not so insignificant considerations of driving the Hwy 1 or Trans- Canada from Horseshoe Bay through the city is the absence of any, nil, zero, traffic lights all the way for 170 km. It’s a smooth long flow right on through Chilliwack, Abbotsford and on to Hope, well actually, to the opposite end of the country if you kept on going, the Trans-Can is one of the longest uninterrupted highways in the world.
Bob has a few days of work in Prince George and I’m taking the opportunity to go along for this mini tour. Again, fun for me, poor Bob has made this trek countless times over thirty-five years of working Pulp Mill Shut-Downs, saying he knows every stump and stone all along the way. I contemplated testing him. Naw, I’ll take his word.
Ok, so anyway back to Hope. This is the first and only stop over on the little leg of our journey on our way to Prince George, the second largest city in B.C. in the centre of the Province, a good 7 1/2 hour drive from Hope. In his robust younger days Bob would do the drive from Vancouver Island to P. G. in one go, but really that’s just madness, which makes me question exactly how many stumps and stones would one could actually see driving like a dirt devil for twelve hours? (Total of 15 hours when you include waiting for the ferry and riding the ferry before even starting the drive!) Ferry travel- another post.
We’ve stopped in Hope on previous road trips for gas or a snack on the way to somewhere else and the first time years ago, staying a night in a motel just off the highway, left me somewhat uncomfortable in the place. I mean the massively tall fir-tree covered mountains are RIGHT THERE looming over you, or in the case of that motel, directly behind and above; which caused me to wonder if it came by the name of Hope from pioneer gold miners murmuring a prayer, I HOPE THIS MOUNTAIN DOESN’T FALL ON MY HEAD. Probably not, but that’s what I would (no, I do) say. It’s obvious I don’t enjoy closed in surroundings like in the crevices and canyons of towering rock. Foothills, distant rocky mountain ranges, oceans, meadows, wide valleys, deserts and prairie are more my element.
So to be fair I actually only visited the town of Hope twice, last month on our way to Kimberley and now, because these times we went INTO the town. And it is pretty. And yes, the Looming presence is there, but in town its threat feels slightly benign instead, maybe spectacular. Impressive also is the Fraser River running through the town, one of the longest rivers in Canada, with humble beginnings in Northern B.C.’s Fraser Pass building and running down into Vancouver’s Delta and New Westminster region and into the Strait of Georgia on the Pacific.
We got a room at the Windsor right downtown for $100, our last stay in Hope was at the Skagit Motel down the street from the Windsor which we liked better, and went for a walk through the neighborhood before having dinner at Wallace, good restaurant by the way.
10,000 years previous this region was the home of the Sto:lo first nations until 1782 when, like all the other European contact tragedies, small pox wiped out over two-thirds of their populations within six weeks. Below is the Dream Totem. Life must have been quite glorious and richly abundant here for them along this big waterway.
Hope also holds the oldest church on its original foundation in British Columbia, the Christ Church consecrated in 1861. The cedar trees that surround the church are magnificently huge, in fact the downtown has kept many of the old growth occupants intact, flanking the pathways to houses or lining a bit of the street and through the small park in the town centre, like acknowledging them as part of the residential population, a rightly place in the neighborhood.
On a bit of ground to the side of the little church is a Labyrinth, which of course I had to walk, because I have never waked one before. I can appreciate the meditative aspects of this exercise but I’m not sure I talked to God though. Maybe next time.
Next morning we grabbed breakfast at the Blue Moose across the street and began the long drive to the middle of B.C.