Named for the jade deposits found to the east of the high community, Jade city is located on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway 37 in northwest British Columbia.
Jade City boasts a Jade Store, post office, a 40-site RV campground, a small playground and a highway maintenance camp. Gas is available just a few kilometres up the road in Good Hope Lake.
The huge jade boulders that visitors can see being cut here are from the Princess Jade Mine, one of the largest jade claims in the world.
Nature, it seems, conspires to keep this region a secret, but for those who are prepared, the Stewart-Cassiar Highway supplies unimaginably rich rewards. The far northwest offers explorers huge areas of unspoiled wilderness and a handful of wilderness parks – Mount Edziza, Spatsizi Plateau, Tatlatui, Atlin, and Tatshenshini-Alsek – covering some of the toughest territory on the continent.
Getting off the beaten path – even as meagre a one as Highway 37 – is a must for explorers. Many areas can be reached only by foot, horseback, helicopter or floatplane. Those seeking solitude can go for days or weeks in some areas without sharing this rugged beauty with anyone else. Forged in fire, carved with ice, coloured with sprawling verdant forests, crystalline blue lakes, and fragile alpine meadows: welcome to the backcountry.
The linchpin between the Yellowhead and Alaska Highways (finally completed in 1972), the Stewart-Cassiar Highway is the only road that delivers adventurers to this awe-inspiring wilderness. Part of the Cassiar Highway doubles (or trebles) as an emergency landing strip – duck, sucker! Sections are still unpaved and services are few; be prepared for any eventuality, including a passing bear asking for a hand-out.
Two roads branch west of Highway 37 and connect with Stewart and Telegraph Creek, respectively. And for those who must find the real edge, Highway 7 south from Jakes Corner on Highway 1 (Alaska Highway) in Yukon nips through the extreme northwestern corner of the province to Atlin. Along the way it runs alongside the immense, uninhabited wilderness of the Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Wilderness Park, which is in turn bordered on the north by Yukon’s Kluane National Park and on the south by Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. Up here, it’s a tight little world of parks.
The Coast Mountains grow larger and larger as you travel farther north. The Central Coast’s Mount Waddington, at 13,176 feet (4016 m) is the largest peak in the province; Mount Fairweather, in Tatshenshini-Alsek on the British Columbia-Alaska border, is even taller, at 15,299 feet (4663 metres).
Jade Products: An extensive selection of raw jade, jade jewellery, and jade carvings crafted from local Cassiar jade can be viewed at two Jade stores.
At the Jade Store and Gift Shop, rockhounds will appreciate the extensive selection of raw Canadian gem stones. The beautiful Jade rock is sold by quality and quantity, and can also be cut to order on site.
The Cassiar Mountain Jade Store and Mine sells jade direct from their mine to the public, by the pound or by the ton. They offer custom-cut jade, semi-precious stones, gold nugget jewelery, and an interactive museum.
Church: Jade city has a non-denominational church that is open to the public for prayer and meditation. There are no scheduled Sunday services at the moment.
South of Jade City are Twin Lake and Simmons Lake, 10km and 13km down the highway respectively, two small lakes set deep in mountain folds, surrounded by towering spruce trees.
Right next to Jade City is the Cusack Gold Mine, which is not operational at this time – previously called the Erickson Gold Mine. The whole area is rich in high quality minerals – gold, asbestos, jade and many more.
Holloway Bar Placer Mine on McDame Creek is a working placer gold mine located in the beautiful Cassiar Mountains just off the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, 15 km north of Jade City. Watch for the signs and stop at the pull-off overlooking the property to watch the mining, or visit their website at www.hollowaybar.com for more information about the mine or to arrange a tour. McDame Creek is where one of BC’s largest solid gold nuggets (72 ounces) was found in 1877 – just downstream from the Holloway Bar project.
Cassiar: Tucked into an impressive mountain valley is the abandoned and long-prosperous asbestos mining community of Cassiar, located west off Highway 37. In 1992, this thriving community of 1,500 became another BC ghost town, having being created 40 years before to help satisfy the postwar need for asbestos. It eventually became too costly for the Cassiar Asbestos Mine to develop new underground mines and transport the asbestos to world markets. Virtually the entire town site has been removed, including the school, company buildings, and homes; in its place is a ghost town that doesn’t even have houses for the ghosts! The abandoned site is now closed to visitors. The named Cassiar derives from Kaska, the First Nation people of this region of British Columbia and Yukon.
Private Campsites: Although sparcely populated, this is a beautiful area – it really is God’s Country! Nestled high in the Cassiar Mountains, Jade City RV Park offers a respite from the pulse of the highway. Check ahead to ensure that this campsite is open for the season. Cassiar Mountain Jade Store also offers an RV Park with roomy pull throughs, tent sites, and showers.
Camping: Organized camping is sparse in the great wilderness of the northwest. Boya Lake Park, east of Highway 37, offers scenic camping, hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and wildlife viewing. The blue waters of this lake coupled with the sight of the Horseranch Range and the Cassiar Mountains will make you cry. Boya Lake Park lies within the traditional territory of the Kaska Dene First Nation, who currently live in and around the settlement of Good Hope Lake. Glaciers formed the interesting landscape of this park about 8,000 years ago, leaving a maze of gravel ridges (eskers) and pothole lakes.
Recreation Sites: A few miles downriver from Telegraph Creek is a trio of Forest Service recreation sites on the banks of the Stikine: Glenora, Winter Creek, and Dodjatin Creek. Together, these provide space for more than 40 vehicles on the banks of this spectacular river. The Stikine River is considered one of the great rafting rivers of the world. As far back as the early 1860s, prospectors were struggling up the Stikine from the coast, lured by the idea and sometimes the reality of gold.
Dease Lake is located 120 km north of Iskut on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. Along with the Dease River, it was once part of a major transportation route into the north for the Hudson’s Bay Company traders and trappers. Now popular with modern-day paddlers, the Dease River flows out of Dease Lake through the Cassiar Mountains and north to the Liard River, offering a rich panorama of moose, stone sheep, mountain goats, black and grizzly bears, and for bird watchers, great horned owls, kingfishers, loons and bald eagles.
Broad Dease Lake and curvaceous Boya Lake offer fishing for char and a variety of northern specialties, burbot and whitefish, while the Dease River, which flows north from Dease Lake through Boya Lake Provincial Park and north to the Liard River, has good grayling fishing. Access is from the town of Dease Lake, from pullouts beside Hwy 37, and from Boya Lake Park’s boat ramp.
North of Boya Lake is the small village of Good Hope Lake, 21 km north of the Cassiar junction, home to the Dease Lake people.
A rough Forest Service road southwest from the town of Dease Lake, skirts the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River. There are two moderately short hiking trails in the Stikine River Provincial Park. The first leads from a pullout near the northern park border to a viewpoint overlooking the Tuya River Valley. About 6 miles beyond, a trail leads to the floor of the valley and on to the confluence of the Tuya and Stikine Rivers. This was the trade route for the Hudson Bay Company in the 1800s.
Mountain Goats: At last count, the Grand Canyon of the Stikine, located in the Stikine River Recreational Area, was home to more than 360 mountain goats, which use the sheer canyon walls as effective protection from all natural predators.
Southwest of Jade City off Highway 37, Telegraph Creek gets its name from an overland telegraph line to the Yukon, the assembly of which was started in 1866. The project was stopped when the first trans-Atlantic submarine cable was laid, then started again during the Klondike gold rush. The cable was finished in 1901, and abandoned in 1936, when wireless radio killed it. Though the Yukon Telegraph Trail is mostly grown over to the south of Telegraph Creek, a 161-mile (265-km) stretch still survives between Telegraph Creek and Atlin, and is open to the serious backpacker. At Telegraph Creek itself, the Hudson’s Bay Company post is a cafe, general store, and lodge. But it is the atmosphere and the rushing river, more than old buildings, that recall an era when steamboats fought the current upstream and goldseekers panned the sand bars and drank in the town bars.
Telegraph Creek, on the Stikine River, is also the nearest community to Mount Edziza Provincial Park – a truly remote park in northwestern British Columbia. The most common modes of transportation into the park are by horseback and floatplane, but you can also hike in. Mount Edziza Provincial Park also supports a large population of mountain goats, as well as Stone sheep, moose, Osbourn caribou, grizzly and black bears, and wolves.
‘Spatsizi’ means “red goat” in the tongue of the original inhabitants of the area around Spatsizi Plateau, the Tahltan. The goats aren’t really red, but roll in iron-oxide dust, coating their otherwise white coats. The Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park is the second-largest park in the province and is located East of the Village of Iskut, off Highway 37, south of Jade City. The park must be accessed by foot, horseback, or canoe.
Circle Tours: See the best of Northern BC on one of the Circle Tours that capture the wonders of the north. The Circle Tour of Northern British Columbia incorporates the Alaska Highway through the Rocky Mountain foothills to Watson Lake in the Yukon, linking with the Stewart/Cassiar Highway and Yellowhead Highway 16 in the south. The Inside Passage Circle Tour and the Native Heritage Circle Tour follow the same route, from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island north by ferry to Prince Rupert. Catch another ferry to the Queen Charlotte Islands, or venture east on the Yellowhead Highway to Prince George, and south through the peaceful Cariboo to Vancouver along the historic Cariboo Wagon Road.
Circle Tours in British Columbia.