100 YEARS AGO AT TUMBLER RIDGE: OCTOBER 5, 1914

Charles Helm

 

In 1914 Samuel Prescott Fay led a party of five men and twenty horses on a scientific expedition from Jasper to Hudson’s Hope. Part of his journey took him down what would become known as the Murray River. On October 5, he passed below what is now Tumbler Ridge.

His diary entry provides the first known written description of the area:

We came to the “big flat” where a creek comes in from the southeast, on which is a trail from the Wapiti, and also a creek from the west. This flat is at least a square mile and covered with the best of grass and pea vine but now all frosted and brown. In the summer it would easily be a sufficient range for 200 head of horses. It is without doubt the finest flat I have ever seen in the foothills. Its edges are mostly fringed with poplar with here and there a clump of spruces. Tipi poles and meat racks were numerous.

Fay’s “big flat” refers to the area below town now occupied by the Lions Campground and surrounding valley-bottom area. The creek that “comes in from the southeast” is Flatbed and the “creek from the west” is the Wolverine. The vegetation has clearly changed in the intervening century, and has become densely forested.

Little could Fay have imagined the changes that would occur in this area in the century that followed his expedition.