This is a long one, folks!
Today I had the luxury of sleeping in and not needing to load up the bike and go. I met my friend Jane at the Cargo Kitchen for lunch. They have a great menu and I can personally recommend their Wicked Coffee…. Jane told me about the sunken gardens behind the courthouse and the path along the waterfront. She dropped me off at City Hall, where I began my self-guided walking tour of Prince Rupert.
Charles Hays is the big name in history around here. He was a railway magnate, visionary and astute businessman whose plan was to turn Prince Rupert into a major north-western port. Prince Rupert was to combine rail and ship - bring goods from across western Canada to take advantage of the Asiatic market. Unfortunately for Prince Rupert, Charles Hays travelled to England to raise funds for his ambitious plans and perished on the Titanic on his return voyage. While Prince Rupert remains a significant port in the northwest, Charles Hays’ big dream was never realized.
Stopped at the local Mark's to pick up some toe warmers for my boots for the next leg of the journey. Across the way was Drift Apparel, which had a selection of helmets and motorcycle gear, so of course I had to pop in and take a look. Had a quick chat with the friendly sales guy there.
I had a good conversation with a couple of local gentlemen, one of whom had fished the waters of the area for 44 years. It seems the fishing industry is threatened in Prince Rupert due to low fish stocks and over-regulation. They said many fishermen are closing up shop because they just can’t make a living anymore. With fishing being a major industry here, it is disappointing to hear and reminded me of the hard time that small farmers have in the prairie provinces. Why is it that everyone needs food, but the people generating it can’t make a living at it? Makes no sense.
I went through the Museum of Northern British Columbia, having coughed up the outrageous fee of $1.00 for the privilege. (Actually, I gave her $10, and told her to keep the change). The museum is really well done. It uses story boards and displays to chronicle the history of the region, including indigenous and European art, culture and industry. There is also a video room where one can select different historical videos to watch. Included in the building is an art gallery and very beautiful gift shop.
Finding the waterfront walk at Rotary Waterfront Park, I wandered it to Cow Bay and the Waterfront Market. There is a cruise ship terminal and various tourist attractions – gift shops, restaurants, coffee shops. Prince Rupert is a common stop for cruise ships as they have to stop and clear customs in a Canadian port as they pass through to and from Alaska. Bear and whale-watching tours can be booked here as well as fishing expeditions. The Ice House Gallery has some gorgeous art work from local artists and the First Nations jewellery, textiles and art on display are varied and stunning. The Home Work shop has a different flavour but is also a fun and interesting little store.
Strolling back up the hill towards the museum, I stopped to see the unique boat framed into a shelter for preservation. Not the usual fishing vessel, I found a plaque telling the sweet, sad story of the Kazu Maru. The vessel’s owner, Kazukio Sakamoto, had set out for a fishing trip and never returned. The Kazu Maru was discovered off the coast of the Queen Charlotte islands 18 months later. Upon discovering that it was from Prince Rupert’s sister city of Owase, Japan, it was restored and sheltered here for display.
In the same area, is a statue and a little labyrinth of short walls with plaques honouring the mariners who have died at sea. I felt quite choked up seeing all the names and the plaque below the statue stating “We Are Out There”. There is an unexpected power in those words and my mind was crowded with images of the unbound nature of the sea taking its own home.
I visited the courthouse, which has a lovely war memorial and peaceful, tree-lined paths. The courthouse itself is a beautiful building. The sunken gardens there would have remained unknown to me if Jane hadn’t mentioned them. I walked around the back of the building and was greeted with the most beautiful little garden. The gardens have a plaque honouring Lloyd Pierce, who created and maintained the gardens and grounds surrounding the courthouse. Known as a kind, gentle man, he was clearly loved by many. I was forcibly reminded of how Tracey loved her living, growing things and I had to go down, sit on a bench in the garden and have a little cry for my lost sister. She was in my mind a lot today – kept seeing things that would have delighted her.
Composing myself, I made my way back to the grocery store to pick up fixings for chicken stew. My crazy friend Leslie was out running the Skeena relay today while I was being lazy, so stew and biscuits have been prepared for tomorrow night’s dinner. Tomorrow will be a time to have a visit and spend sometime pampering Night Fury before the next leg of the journey.
Hit "Play" in the upper left corner of the slide show below!