Tuesday, August 18, 2015

TRAVELLING BEAUTIFUL BRITISH COLUMBIA

            Did anyone else notice my mathematically challenged subtraction in last week’s column? If you didn’t, then shame on the both of us. It was not Canada’s 118th birthday, like I stated it was; it was Canada’s 148th birthday on July 1st, 2015. I’m sure she’d be flattered that I thought she looked a lot younger than she really is, though.
            As mentioned in last week’s column, as well, we did get to celebrate the country’s 148th Birthday on the shores of Okanagan Lake watching the July 1st fireworks at Peachland, BC. In a province surrounded by spectacular beauty the quaint community of Peachland is, as promised, a beautiful peach of a place. It turned out to be a great place to spend Canada Day watching a parade, going swimming, eating ice cream and ooooing and aahhing at the fireworks.
            Of course, as with all good things, they must come to an end so after an eventful, full and fun 10 days in West Kelowna we had to say goodbye to our youngest daughter Emily and the beautiful Okanagan valley and make our way back to Kipling.
            In a reversal of last year’s trip, this year we travelled out to British Columbia via Highway #3 through the Crowsnest Pass and made the return trip through the Kicking Horse Pass on the Trans-Canada Highway. I know it’s all mountains and rivers and forests and streams and winding roads but you wouldn’t believe the difference in the road views when you reverse the directions.
            The Crowsnest highway was built in 1932 as a Great Depression project and mainly follows a mid-19th century gold rush trail that had originally been traced out by an engineer named Edgar Dewdney. Dewdney later served as Lieutenant-Governor of the North West Territories and he was also the fifth Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia. The Crowsnest Pass’s highest elevation reaches 1358m (4455ft).
            The Kicking Horse Pass and the adjacent Kicking Horse River, were named after James Hector, a naturalist, geologist, surgeon, and a member of John Palliser’s 1858 Palliser Expedition, who was actually kicked by his horse while exploring the region. It seems the name stuck. The Trans-Canada Highway was constructed through the pass in 1962 following the original CPR rail route. The Kicking Horse Pass’s elevation is 1643m (5390ft).
             Driving the highways through either of these passes can give you the willies at times but one has to admire the sheer determination and mind-boggling feats of engineering that were employed to complete the roadways through the mountains. The drive along Highway #1 from Golden through the Kicking Horse Pass was especially nerve-racking for me and I’m driving it on a finished pristine highway. Can you imagine what the road builders would have seen while they were constructing this thing? Yowza!
            I don’t know how they did it and I don’t know why they did what they did when they did it but the construction of those highways through those mountains is an absolutely awesome great Canadian achievement. And this tourist is happier for it.

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