is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada
called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain
ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full
of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity
to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without
Wilderness Adventures - Sept., Week 3/2008
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of the Day.
Goodbye To A Good Friend
had a great day in Bella Coola yesterday. It was a clear,
sunny day and the autumn colors were just beautiful. I
look forward to posting some of the pictures on the next
Today was a really nice day here with sunny skies, although
a little smoky over the mountains. There must be a forest
fire somewhere. It got up to 22C or 71.6F in the shade
this afternoon and was darned hot in the sun. It can keep
it up though. It might not be great for hunting but we
are getting stuff done outside and I like
I have to say good-bye to a good friend today.
Lloyd Wilson and I go back 20 years and we built a house
together. No, we weren't married but it's probably as
close as you can come to it. Lloyd was my carpenter and
was in the process of building a little A-frame at the
other end of the lake that I ended up renting for a few
years. Since it was being built up on the hill above the
cabin I was renting I would often take Lloyd and Henry,
another carpenter, some fresh coffee and sometimes some
goodies. I wanted to get some pointers on building a house
because it had long been my dream to build one of my own.
Both Lloyd and Henry were very gracious and free
with advice and information, and shortly after
I moved into my new rental digs, I began discussing house
building with Lloyd. I had loads of house plans and books
on it but didn't like any of the plans I saw. I had in
mind what I wanted and needed someone that had a good
grasp on structural engineering to help me. I had decided
Lloyd was my man!
Lloyd was intrigued with the idea of building a house
that had never been on paper but he had a few strict rules.
He was retired and wished to remain so. Therefor, if he
wanted to go mushroom picking, hunting, flying or just
take a day, week or month off, he was going to. Cash only
and he wouldn't show up before eleven in the morning at
the soonest. Sounded good to me!
It took us four years to get my dream house to where
it was livable and before I was talked into selling
it. It took that long because I was determined to not
owe money on it, so I would accumulate building materials
over the winter and save some money, then Lloyd and I
would work on it until the materials and money ran out.
The other reason it took so long is that we usually got
to the point where we were about ready to kill each other
and would often go months without talking. Then I would
stop over at his house in late winter or early spring
with a bottle of Baileys and talk him into coming back
to work for me. That was probably as close to begging
I've ever been in my life but it became a ritual and one
I've often been told that many marriages barely survive
the building of a house so I'm not sure how Lloyd and
I managed to keep plugging on without being married to
each other. He was exactly 30 years and one day older
than I, had never been married and was not only
shy with women but actively scared to death of them.
At least of them taking over his life. I, on the other
hand, was outgoing, bossy, domineering, intolerant, impatient,
short tempered and just plain hard to put up with. I also
generally had a string of boyfriends on the line at any
one time....something totally alien to Lloyd.
Lloyd was as stubborn as the day was long, and I
could beat him at that trait. But somehow, over
the course of those four years we both learned a lot of
valuable life lessons from each other. His out and out
stubbornness and own timeline taught me patience and tolerance.
My stubbornness taught him that sometimes other people's
ideas are valid too. I learned from him that if you had
a neat idea, worked hard and long, you could make it come
to life. We both learned that you can make adjustments
just about anywhere in both construction and in your life
and that nothing is written in stone. And we both learned
that sometimes you just have to give in.
Lloyd had never been in a relationship and never had to
learn all those things we all have to learn
in order to maintain a marriage or relationship, so building
that house with a spoiled rotten female that had always
gotten her way was a real adjustment for him, I think.
Out of it we created a house that was beautiful, had never
been drawn out on anything but a napkin or a board when
we met for our morning coffee before starting work, born
of vivid imagination and Lloyd's tremendous ability. Thank
goodness his friend Henry helped, his good humour and
peacemaking ability helping the whole process out by quite
In the end, I considered Lloyd Wilson one of the
best friends I will ever have had the pleasure to know.
Whether by accident or by design, the byproduct of building
that house with him made me into a much better person
than I had been before. And in fact, I trusted his judgment
so much that I asked if he would approve of Andy and I
becoming a couple eight years after we finished working
on the house.
I know this sounds like it's all about Lloyd and I and
it is. Because that's the person I knew. Everyone
that knew Lloyd, snowmobiled, quadded or cut trail with
him all have their stories about him as well.
We can all agree on a lot of things about him, and few
of us would disagree on who that man was. He was definite
about who he was, and like it or not, you liked him, or
not. Few people didn't. Though stubborn, he was also one
of the most courteous people I've ever met, hated gossip,
and was a good neighbour. More often than not, those neighbours
never even knew he had helped them out unless they were
told by someone else. He is going to be sorely missed
both as a neighbour and a friend.
Lloyd's nephew and his wife have been staying over at
his house off and on all summer and have done a lot of
improvements. It seems they like the country and may be
here quite a bit year round. I hope so. They too have
turned out to be damned good neighbours. The kind you
want to keep. They've were thrown into the thick of things
when neither we, nor all his friends could any longer
cope with his disease, and have done a remarkable job
of sorting things out.
Lloyd died this morning in Williams Lake of ALS or Lou
Gehrig's disease. He told few people what he had because
he didn't want his friends or neighbours to worry about
or feel sorry for him. It's a cruel disease, especially
for someone that was as active and fit as Lloyd. Selfishly,
I'm glad it wasn't heart failure or stroke because
I'm sure I was the cause of more than one sleepless night
and much agitation for the man while we worked on the
house. In fact I'm sure that he regretted ever agreeing
to help me build it about every minute or so over the
course of the four years. But it was the finest accomplishment
of my life, and he was the one that helped me to achieve
If there really is a Happy Hunting Ground, may you
see at least a four pointer every day Lloyd.
Happy Trails my friend.
Peaches And Lumber
everyone. This will be short tonight. As usual I'm
a day late and a dollar short. Somehow I shot
down the whole day doing peaches and going to pick up
lumber for the greenhouse today. Of course as soon as
you stick your neck out past your driveway you have to
do some visiting so it was this afternoon before I got
back and could help a little on the greenhouse. It's looking
pretty good! We've got a ridge beam up now and should
be able to get the rafters up in the next few days.
Our weather changed a bit today. When I
got up it was heavily overcast and colder than heck in
the house. It did clear out pretty decently over the course
of the day to where you could see the sun through a high
haze and by this evening it had cleared off. Just about,
anyway. There was some haze over the mountains that actually
looked more like smoke than cloud to the south. It got
up to 18C the only time I looked at the thermometer today
but has cooled off quickly. The forecast for tomorrow
doesn't look too bad, especially for Bella Coola which
is where we'll be headed for the day. I think it goes
down hill after that though.
We sure have some awesome autumn color happening now.
It looks like it's going to be one of those really
beautiful falls where everything turns really slowly.
We've had the bright reds of wild roses and blueberries
for a while but now the gooseberries are turning orange
while the willows and buckbrush tend to turn every shade
of yellow. Most aspen are still a bright green but some
are coloring up to yellow and every shade of orange and
red depending on where they are. It would be great if
we could have the same kind of unending fall we had two
years ago that gave us color for two months.
Carleigh Woods from the central interior sent me an email
about Rimarko Ranch and some photos she took while up
this summer so I've posted them on the right. Thanks Carleigh!
A favorite with everyone that sees Rimarko seems to be
those famous old red trucks used by the ranch years ago.
I know John and Blair had a few tales to tell about them,
especially one that they would drive into Nimpo Lake on
occasion, lack of brakes and all!
Chalmers Morse, Rimarko Ranch
Rimarko Ranch Began Continued.
- As I indicated, the winter of 1961 was a busy one for
my father with the planning. As he got into the process
he found that operating a kid's camp came with a great
deal of government regulations and red tape. So after
a great deal of consideration it was decided to build
a guest ranch that could accommodate the entire family.
Back in those days the road from both Bella Coola and
Williams Lake was pretty rough and the road into Charlotte
Lake from Towdystan was just a trail taking several hours
and often, especially in the spring required the help
of a winch.
With a large construction crew coming in the spring, father
needed a place to house and feed them. Bunk houses were
built and a coffee shop type trailer was purchased from
Home Oil, that they had used in the field. In addition
another trailer was constructed that was the same size
as the coffee shop and held men's and lady's restrooms
with showers and a laundry room. Eventually these two
trailers were placed 24 feet apart and incorporated into
a large building with additional kitchen space, storage
rooms, a rec room for the staff and a number of bedrooms
for the staff.
The trailers sat out at Towdystan for some time while
the road to the ranch was improved. Virtually the entire
road had to be widened and built up with proper drainage.
Much of the materials coming into the ranch was shipped
up from Vancouver through Bella Coola on the old Northland
Prince, where ranch trucks would meet it and bring the
items up over the hill to the ranch. We're talking about
furniture, fixtures and equipment including a number of
large generators and trucks and service vehicles of various
sizes. Other things were trucked in from Vancouver via
Williams Lake with Hobson's and Willis Trucking. Still
we needed the airstrip improved, as it could only take
a small single engine aircraft at that time. BC Airlines
had a 10 passenger Mallard which we often charted to bring
in guests and supplies prior to improving the strip that
landed on the lake. At one point my father Hired "Red"
McQue who had driven for Hobson's for a number of years.
Red had a large dump truck and together with the ranch
heavy equipment a crew the strip was widened to 150 feet
and I think 3600 plus feet long. When completed, many,
many aircraft would fly into the ranch. At one point BC
airlines operated a scheduled 35 passenger turbo prop
nonstop from Vancouver International to the ranch on its
route to Powell River. We also chartered a DC-3 several
times each summer from Harrison Airways to bring supplies
directly in to the ranch, primarily fresh food for the
A dam was built above the ranch where my father had engineered
a gravity feed water system which supplied water to the
entire ranch during the summer seasons. This system supplied
water to the two main kitchens as well some 30 bathrooms.
For the winter months a different well and pump system
had been installed under the old "George Powers" cabin
that didn't freeze (most of the time anyway).
It took a number of years to complete the entire building
plan and I dare say, I'm not sure we ever did, my father
was always coming up with things he wanted added. But
basically when completed, there were more than 35 buildings,
including out buildings and barns. There was a heated
swimming pool, a movie theater (we had top billed movies
flown in each week - remember we are talking about the
days before satellite TV), a main lodge with 8 guest rooms,
a dining room and cocktail lounge, guest cabins, bunk
houses and a marina to house the many boats need to accommodate
the guests. During the peak of operations (1966 - 1973)
the ranch housed between 50 - 75 with staff and guests
combined and approached 100 on a couple of occasions.
During this same period of time we also built a camp on
the lower Dean River near the lumber camp. This facility
had accommodations for about 12 guests and a crew of 4.
Many of our guests would spend time at the ranch with
the entire family with side trips to the Dean for the
more avid fisherman.
- Chalmers I. Morse"
Everyone. That's the last installment I've received from
Mr. Morse so far. Like you, I very much look forward to
Our weather today, as yesterday, was glorious!
I know we made it to 25C yesterday but the only time I
had to check the temperature today it was at about 22C.
Still, nice and warm! Actually, it was quite hot. I love
hot weather but working in it can be a little exhausting
if you aren't used to it.
We went out yesterday evening and caught a couple of trout
for supper for some night this week. We finally get to
fish to eat them instead of freezing them for smoking
later. The fishing is still marvelous and everyone's commenting
on how good it is this year so get your fishing
Our weather is supposed to break down here in the next
couple of days with high overcast expected tomorrow and
Thursday, as a low pushes that high pressure system out
of the way. It's supposed to rain in Vancouver by Friday
but it's hard to say what it will do here. For sure it
will cool down a bit.
Things are looking worse and worse in the States
as one financial institution after another fails.
Although we saw a bit tonight indicating the US government
is going to bail out AIG. It seems strange in light of
the comments made only yesterday that the Feds weren't
going to bail out any more banks. They may not have a
choice if they don't want to see a repeat of the Great
Depression but I suspect that the government is just trying
to shore things up until after the election in the hopes
of helping the Republican party to win.
I see in Canada that Dion of the Liberals is trying to
blame the present economic woes in the east on the Conservative
party. Not valid at all when you consider that any
economic downturn in Canada right now is entirely because
of the situation in the US. Layton of the NDP
is yapping about changing the banking system in Canada
so that the same thing doesn't happen to us as it has
in the States. Again laughable since the inner workings
of our financial institutions bear little resemblance
to those in the US. I'm hoping the Canadian people
can see through the rhetoric espoused by them. It would
be nice if those two jokers could actually come up with
a political platform that made sense instead of the same
old bullshit designed to fool the voters. Making outlandish
promises about how much money they're going to pump into
the economy and spend on saving jobs is designed to do
just that. I actually have to back Harper when he states
with some honesty that there isn't a lot the government
can do that would make sense. We're tied too closely to
the American economy and we'll just have to ride it out.
Again I hope the Canadian voters can see through all the
bull but we'll see, I guess.
Rimarko Ranch Beginnings
There have been many stories and rumors over the years
that like most things in the Chilcotin, have grown bigger
than a ten gallon hat and Rimarko Ranch has had its share.
Long shrouded in mystery and seemingly isolated from the
communities of Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake, stories about
Rimarko abound and while some may have their feet in fact,
it's hard to separate the truth from the exaggeration
and added color.
Chalmers Morse, the son of the previous owner of Rimarko
Ranch, has kindly sent me some emails relating the true
background of the ranch taking us back into its past life
as a resort.
me first begin by saying that my father was not paid to
stay away by the family as some have indicated. He served
on the Board of Directors for both Fairbanks, Morse &
Company as well as the Canadian Fairbanks, Morse & company
until they were sold in the late 50's. He was also the
general sales manager for the company's locomotive division.
Back in those days, Fairbanks, Morse was a major manufacturing
company that made 1000's of products ranging from pumps
and electric motors to windmills, farming equipment and
During the 50's, the children in my town often went away
to summer camp in Wisconsin. When the campers would go
on overnight camping trips we would often find the parks
and campsites crowded, even back then. My parents thought
that it would be wonderful if some day they opened a camp
somewhere where you would not need to camp one tent on
top of another.
In the spring each year, our family would travel to a
resort in Arizona that had horseback riding as one of
its activities. Over the years we became friends with
our wrangler who came from the Kamloops area. It was he
that suggested that my parents look in BC for land to
build a kids camp. Some may remember Merv Carter. My father
hired Merv to look for the perfect place. A beautiful
lake surrounded by mountains far from the city.
Merv spent the summer of 1961 investigating properties
that were for sale. However the task was not as easy as
it sounds, there was always something that tainted the
properties that he saw, i.e. overhead power lines, new
highways etc. Finally in the fall, Merv had heard of some
property that was for sale in the Chilcotins, a place
called Anahim Lake. My father and mother traveled from
Chicago and met Merv in Kamloops where they chartered
a single engine Cessna on (wheels) not floats. Off they
went, not knowing that the charter pilot had no idea where
he was going.
When they got to Anahim, the pilot reported to my parents
and Merv that the Anahim airstrip had not been completed
and that it was too short to land on. While the pilot
circled the area which included Nimpo and Charlotte Lakes,
they spotted a very narrow and short airstrip on Charlotte
Lake. (Mind you, back then there was no strip at Nimpo
either.) My father ordered the pilot to land at the strip
at Charlotte, to which he told my father that there was
nothing there. Father pointed out to the pilot that the
gas gauge was leaning toward empty and that he'd rather
be on the strip with nothing than in the air.
When they landed a fellow by the name of Chick Hudson
came out to meet them, he was accompanied by Handy Jack
who worked for him. It turned out that Chick was thinking
about selling his property where he was trying to build
a small resort called Charlotte Lake Resort. He had not
been very successful. The end results - My family purchased
the property from Chick Hudson, which had been the old
George Powers homestead that is mentioned in the book
"Grass beyond the Mountains".
Over the winter months, my father was busy laying out
a master building plan, getting permits, buying equipment
and hiring a staff.
- Chalmers I. Morse"
To be continued, folks!
I've started a new week so you'll find last week's articles
new search engine. Check it out!!
The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a
remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a
beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search
engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim
Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities
in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large
as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough
room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible
country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip
of the iceberg, so join me!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!