The Cariboo Wagon Road
Cable Cars and the Ferry
Paddlewheel steamboats arrived soon after the pioneer miners of the first Fraser Gold Rush in 1858. The first vessels on the Fraser were sidewheelers which had
two paddlewheels, one on each side, but soon proved impractical. A sternwheeler, by contrast, had a single paddlewheel at the stern and were much more successful (Art Downs. Paddlewheels on the Frontier. P.8,9).
On June 6th, 1858 the sidewheeler "Surprise" became the first vessel to travel as far up the Fraser as Fort Hope. The Surprise made about 15 round trips to Fort Hope, carrying approximately 500 passengers at a time and charging $25.00 for each passenger (Coutant, Frank R., Yankee Steamboats on the Fraser River British Columbia. P.15)
The Umatilla was the first sternwheeler on the Fraser and became the first vessel to reach Yale on July 21, 1858. She made the trip from Fort Hope to Fort Yale in 5 hours, one of which was spent a ground. The Fraser soon became a busy shipping lane for sternwheelers, and Yale became the bustling town known as "the head of navigation."
The S.S. Fort Yale
This ticket was recovered from the wreck of the Fort Yale which had a boiler explosion at Union Bar on April 14, 1860. The blast was so great that a 90 pound chunk of the boiler was blown a quarter mile inland (Art Downs. Paddlewheels on the Frontier. P.26).
Ticket Recovered from the Fort Yale Wreck
(BC Archives: MS 2434)
The Henrietta was a sternwheeler built in Victoria for low water operation and had a draft of only 20 inches when loaded. It arrived at Yale in late February, 1860, and was piloted by Captain Billy Moore.
The S.S. Onward
The British Columbia and Victoria Steam Navigation Company - a forerunner of the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company - was incorporated in February 1860, in the Colony of B.C. to operate steamers between the ports of Victoria, New Westminister, and Yale. Shortly thereafter, William Irving bought into the company and in 1865 placed the newly built steamer Onward in service on the Fraser River run (BC Archives: MS-1894).
The Skuzzy was built by Onderdonk with the intent of moving railway supplies to camps north of Yale further along the Fraser. Aided by a powerful steam winch and 150 Chinese people hauling on ropes the first load successfully passed the treacherous rapids up river through hell's gate to Boston Bar (Art Downs. Paddlewheels on the Frontier. P.31)