Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Puzzling artifacts and noises rise from canyon's depths


Terrace Standard

KITSELAS CANYON is giving up more of its secrets.

A series of artifacts have been found in the mud of the canyon this summer after the Skeena River's high water receded.

And it's set the Kitselas people abuzz with speculation that some of them might be from the Mount Royal . the old paddlewheeler that sank in the canyon almost a century ago.

The first find was what was initially suspected to be the hub from the riverboat's paddlewheel.

The cylindrical item, found last month by Gitaus subdivision resident Ron Gerow, was examined by Terrace city freeman Bill McRae.

It's not from a riverboat, he decided, but appears to be the hub of a wagon wheel with historic value in its own right.

Most upriver freight bypassed the canyon via a mile-long wagon road so the paddlewheelers could make the tricky run empty.

Another artifact unearthed from the sandbars appears to be a part McRae believes came off an old Cat bulldozer.

The newest discovery has been spotted embedded in the bar, but not yet unearthed, says Wilfred Bennett Jr., who heads the band's development of a national historic site in the canyon.

It appears to be a door with a port hole window in it . and again the hope is it could be from the Mount Royal.
"We're waiting for low water to go in and have a look at it," Bennett said.

"The bars change shape and form each year," he said. "Every time they change there's new stuff that washes up."

Getting McRae's advice about the canyon finds paid other dividends for the Kitselas. The city freeman took the opportunity to give the band an old adze carving tool that had once been found in the canyon and passed on to him.

"Hopefully we'll have a display built for them," Bennett added.

The sinking of the 138-foot Mount Royal on July 6, 1907 has long been one of the region's most famous tales from the riverboat days.

Records indicate there was a safe on board, but it sank to the bottom of the canyon when the ship capsized.
"Some people say there was gold in it," Bennett said. "That's one of the stories I've heard."

The passengers on the vessel escaped but six crew members died when the sternwheeler drifted sideways through the canyon and overturned.

And if that's not eerie enough, some Kitselas band members say they can sometimes hear strange noises emanating from the canyon's waters.

"They say you can hear a kind of a knocking sound, like metal hitting the canyon rocks," Bennett says.
He hasn't heard the noise.

But band office employee Frances Bennett says she has.

Her father would take her down to the canyon to watch the wild water.

"We'd go down to the canyon when it's at high water and you can hear a knocking and it's not rocks," she says.
Pieces of something . maybe the Mount Royal .are wedged deep underwater inside the canyon, and bang around when the current is at its most powerful, she and others believe.

"To me, I think it's a boat .that old sternwheeler," she says.

Copyright 2003 terrace

GITAUS subdivsion resident
Ron Gerow holds the mystery
artifact he found in the waters
of Kitselas Canyon last month.
It is believed to be the hub from
an old wagon wheel.

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