This container that once held coffee was found at the trap cabin believed to be owned by Tommy Archie of the Canim Lake Band. (Chance Breckenridge / Facebook)

This container that once held coffee was found at the trap cabin believed to be owned by Tommy Archie of the Canim Lake Band. (Chance Breckenridge / Facebook)

Valley Voices: Old trap cabin a part of Wells Gray history

The cabin is one of many left in the park from early pioneers

A short trek along the Clearwater River led a couple of avid backcountry backpackers to an old trap cabin in Wells Gray Park. With a map of the park from 1932, directions from someone who last saw the cabin 50 years ago, and a few months of discussions, Chance Breckenridge and Dennis Greffard believe they found the building that belonged to Tommy Archie, a member of the Canim Lake Band.

The Canim Lake Band had a trap line that ran north/south along the west side of the Clearwater River. Based on the description of the location and the trap line, the two trekked to where “x marked the spot.” They hopped into a couple of kayaks and made their way down the river and onto the other side.

As they searched for specific geographic features based on the description given to them, the two arrived at some cut stumps. They investigated the area, walked away and later decided to return to the stumps. Shortly after, Greffard spotted a half-buried wood stove.

“We looked around a little more and then we found what remained of where the cabin was,” Breckenridge told the Black Press Media. “There were bowls, pots and pans. We found a bottom end of an old boot. We found remnants of an alarm clock. It was quite an amazing little treasure trove of goodies in the ground.”

The cabin itself was nonexistent, he added, other than a few boards in the bushy ground. They were about 25 metres away from the mark they made on their map. It was fairly easy to find, compared to others they had searched for in the past.

They’ve searched and found other old trap and family cabins in Wells Gray Park. They were even given a hand-drawn map of a local pioneering family’s trapper cabin, which they also found, said Breckenridge. He added it’s neat to find the history in the park and to help reinvigorate lost or forgotten stories.

“The folks that do know about it have passed on and the people that are still around, I find it makes them happy knowing that somebody is interested in their family’s history or just the history in general in that area,” said Breckenridge.

He added he enjoys the backcountry hiking aspect as well, getting to areas that most people may not be able to see and to document them, take photos and share the adventures so people can vicariously visit those places. In doing so, though, the exact location of the sites aren’t noted because “you get disrespectful people,” said Breckenridge, and those who share their knowledge with him know he won’t post where they are publicly and the site will remain as is.

In the future, Breckenridge said he hopes to go back to the park to search again for a cabin built by Mike Majerus, one of the early pioneers of the area in the early 1900s. The cabin in question was built before the famous Majerus Farm homestead trail in Wells Gray Park.


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Various dishes and pots and pans were found at the site of an old trap cabin. (Chance Breckenridge / Facebook)

Various dishes and pots and pans were found at the site of an old trap cabin. (Chance Breckenridge / Facebook)

The remnants of an old trap cabin in Wells Gray Park believed to be owned by Tommy Archie of the Canim Lake Band. (Chance Breckenridge / Facebook)

The remnants of an old trap cabin in Wells Gray Park believed to be owned by Tommy Archie of the Canim Lake Band. (Chance Breckenridge / Facebook)

A small wood stove was what gave away the location of the trap cabin. (Chance Breckenridge / Facebook)

A small wood stove was what gave away the location of the trap cabin. (Chance Breckenridge / Facebook)