Wednesday, April 23, 2014

North of 52

We crossed 52 degrees of latitude today.  We’ve spent a lot of time working our way northwesterly since we left Cow Bay but  from now on we’re grinding steadily north. 

We’re seeing some spectacular scenery but not many boats.  We meet the occasional tug and this morning we met a great humming big BC Ferry but other than that, zippo. 





The scenery has always been pretty good but – if its possible – it is getting even better. 
IMG_7186 This last one is of Ocean Falls, which is where we are tied up tonight.  We wanted to come here just to say we had been here.  There’s not much to see.  It was a company town until the company left town.  The BC government ended up owning the town and eventually sent in the bulldozers.  Before they got the town flattened whoever was left in town did an Arthur Dent and got the bulldozing stopped.  It looks to me as though they should have let the government finish the job.  You can buy property really cheap in town – cheaper even than in Buchanan.  But you probably don’t want to. 

A brief history of Ocean Falls, excerpted from the bulletin board on the wall of “The Shack” at the Ocean Falls dock:

1783 – Captain Vancouver stops in, June 5th.

1906 – Site clearing for Bella Coola Pulp & Paper Co mill at Ocean Falls.

1909 – Union steamship “Camosun” ships the first load of pulp from Ocean Falls.  Lumber is being produced at the local sawmill.

1912 – new owner for the pulp mill – Ocean Falls Company

1913 – O.F. Company in receivership

1915 – Pacific Mills buys O.F.Company

1918 – Concrete dam 677 feet wide by 60 feet high with a 112 foot high spillway built to produce power.

1941 – most of the local labour force was forcibly relocated inland (WAY inland) because of WWII.

1954 – another new mill owner, Crown Zellerbach this time

1971 – Crown Zellerbach walks away, leaving the BC government to pick up the pieces.  In typical government business operating fashion, this plan does not work out well.

1980 – BC Government finally throws in the towel.  The power plant was sold to private interests and continues to provide local power as well as power for Shearwater & Bella Bella.

1986 – Government doozers show up to flatten the town with bulldozers but can’t even get that right. 

Currently whoever wrote the notice on the bulletin board claims 40 fulltime residents - “a mixture of workers and children of workers from the mill days, also of those seeking an alternative lifestyle.” (my italics)  They clearly don’t live here in Ocean Falls proper – the only citizen we saw on our walking tour yesterday was a tramp apparently living in a panel van in the parking lot.  There does appear to be an active Post Orifice – what a relief that must be on Friday (when the welfare cheques arrive).  There is another community about 2 miles east called Martin Valley which appears to have 20 or 30 well maintained houses in it.  All in all we’re glad we came.  We saw.  And we won’t come back.


Reluctant Cowboy said...

The Scenery is outstanding!
Kind of sad about the decay of commerce on the coastal outposts.

Keep safe

Jorgito's dad said...

You're right Skip - its sad to see the towns disappearing. A lot of them were mostly float communities so the whole town has rotted away and sunk to the bottom of the bay. Occasionally we see some old dolphins still standing back in a bay where there must have been float homes tied up at some point in the past. This whole coast was home to hundreds of thousands of people 100 years ago but not any more.