Fraser and Thompson Canyons

Fraser and Thompson Canyons

Harsh mountain landscapes with pine forests, gradually turning into rocky canyons with fast rivers, this nature met the pioneers who founded British Columbia.

Moving east from Vancouver along the Trans-Canada Highway and north along the Fraser River to its tributary, you will inversely repeat the great path laid by fearless fur traders from the prairies to the Pacific coast.

Millions of Pacific salmon follow this route to spawn. And it was he, despite the rugged terrain, who was chosen by the builders of the railway to transport ore and wood (as well as the first tourists) across the continent.

One eternally recalls the eternal rivalry between two railway companies, the National and the Pacific, when you see endless freight trains stretching on both sides of the canyon (often, to pass difficult sections of the track, attached to two powerful locomotives).

Turn north toward Yale, the former fort of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the final destination of its ships: they could not overcome the upstream rapids. At low water, you can see the mooring rings that they used when they approached the shore. In a small museum (open: May-Saint. Daily 10.00-17.00) you will be told how this village, with a population of several hundred people, was a prosperous city during the Gold Rush and a large construction depot for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The threads of British Columbia’s fate are woven together where the Fraser Canyon tapers over the whirlpools and rapids of the Hell’s Gate. For millennia, this stretch of river along which salmon go for spawning has been a favorite fishing spot among the Indians.

It was here that in 1808 they helped the fur merchant Simon Fraser guide his canoe through the rapids using a rope made of twigs along the canyon wall, allowing him to swim to the mouth of the river (now she bears his name).

Of the five species of Canadian Pacific salmon — sockeye salmon, pink salmon, coho salmon, chum salmon and chinook salmon — coho salmon is most appreciated for the quality of the meat. Caught before spawning, it has a bright red color, a thick fat layer and retains its color and aroma during cooking.

Coho spawns in streams and tributaries above the lake. Hatched fry descend into the lake, feeding on midges and water striders, until they grow to 7.5-10 cm. After one or two years, they begin their 1600-kilometer journey into the ocean. Three years later, salmon — already weighing 1.8-2.6 kg — returns to spawn in its native river in the fall.

Moving upstream, through obstacles, he instinctively searches for the stream where four years ago he was born. In the spawning zavad, the female builds a “nest” with her tail and lays about 3,500 red eggs in it. The male, who has grown a hump and a fiercely arched mouth to fight rivals during the mating period, releases milk over the caviar. After 10 days, adult salmon die, and a new cycle begins next spring.

     In 1913, a series of explosions in the canyon, undertaken to lay railway tracks, blocked the way for salmon. This led to a 90% reduction in annual coho salmon catches; it was restored only 30 years later, after the passage channels for steel were made of steel and concrete, which cost many millions of dollars.

Today, the Indians are fishing here again, but their modest catch cannot compare with the profits of commercial fish farms fishing in the Fraser estuary. Cross the gorge by cable car to take a look at the rapids from a short distance. In the restaurant at the last stop, try grilled salmon, and you will understand why this fish is so appreciated.

At Lytton, the Thompson River flows into the Fraser River. Before turning to the section of the Trans-Canada Highway along the Thompson River, take a small detour, turning north on the city, onto Highway 12, and look at a picturesque place where limestone silt from its tributary mixes with the clear mountain waters of the Fraser River.

Compared to the Fraser Valley, the dry Thompson Valley looks more severe, with wormwood islands and mountain sheep in a semi-desert area, sometimes not too different from lunar landscapes. Similarity

In Southwest America, this area is attached to a ranch around Kamloops Lake.

If you come here in October, you can see an impressive salmon run when the water turns scarlet due to thousands of coho salmon rising upstream.

At Squilax Bridge, turn to the mouth of the Adam River and Lake Shuswap. In the summer, tourists can watch the progress of salmon closely during rafting down the Thompson River, organized in Vancouver. For details, contact the city tourist information office.