Saturday, December 08, 2007

"Notes from the Century Before" by Edward Hoagland

I've always had an affinity for British Columbia. Maybe it is my family's history of coming to the New World via Canada. Maybe it's because I spent many summers camping here with my parents, or more recently with my husband. Whatever the case, now that we've discovered Powell River, it is a place I want to call home.

When I travel to someplace new, I always read several books about the area and its people first. Even though it isn't new any longer, I've been reading about British Columbia for several years now. Here's a book I discovered that you might like if you are planning a trip to northwest BC. It's called Notes from the Century Before by Edward Hoagland. I found my copy during one of my used bookstore adventures. If that doesn't work for you, it is available from or

In 1966 Edward Hoagland visited Telegraph Creek in northern BC. It's a small town (population 400) on the Stikine River, accessible then only by river through the panhandle of Alaska, by dogsled in winter or via bush plane. A combination of gold rushes, trapping and fishing helped the wilderness town survive even when the telegraph didn't. Hoagland lived in nearby Hazelton and heard stories about the Telegraph Trail leading to Telegraph Creek. He dreamed of taking that grueling trek for himself, but opted to arrive at Telegraph Creek via the more traditional river route.

The land was still "very silent and wild," but not for long. Even though Telegraph Creek is isolated by it's remote geography, nearby logging and mining would soon take their toll. As a novelist, Hoagland wanted to tell the story of this rugged land and its people. He chose to write in a journal format since he would be using interviews and journals from original settlers as his primary source of information. The result is a book that chronicles his 1966 trip up the Stikine River from Wrangell, Alaska, conversations with the "Old Men of Telegraph Creek," backcountry truck trips to remote cabins to hear the stories of their hardy occupants, and flights into the yet unspoiled bush.

With today's transportation and technology advances, it's easier to experience the beauty and self-reliance of a town like Telegraph Creek. You can now get there by road from Dease Lake for hiking, backpacking, kayaking and river boating adventures. But before you go, step back forty years with Hoagland and see it through the eyes of Tahltan First Nations people and early pioneer settlers in Notes from the Century Before. -- Margy

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