Midway between Yale and Lytton on the Fraser River, the community of Boston Bar is a town steeped in history.
Many of the prospectors in this area were from south of the border, notably the East Coast, and local First Nations took to calling these expatriates “Boston Men”. Named after its American residents, Boston Bar became a busy stopover for traders and those heading north in search of gold.
North Bend, across the Fraser River from Boston Bar, was originally named Boston Bar. When the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, the name was changed to North Bend, and the name Boston Bar crossed the river to the Boston Bar of today.
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) has a small terminal in North Bend that is the halfway point between Vancouver and Kamloops. North Bend is also at the doorstep of the Nahatlatch Valley, a chain of 3 lakes and the Nahatlatch River.
A short distance south of Boston Bar is one of the most spectacular sights in British Columbia: Hell’s Gate, a narrowing of the Fraser River where the water churns through in a tremendous maelstrom. It’s an awesome sight to behold, and certainly a “hellish” experience for the more than 2 million spawning Salmon who must pass through this part of the Fraser River every year.
The North Bend Aerial Ferry was constructed in 1939 and opened in 1940. Prior to that one could only cross the Fraser River from Boston Bar to North Bend by boat. The Hell’s Gate aerial ferry was installed in 1969 and opened to the public in 1971.
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Hell’s Gate Airtram: For a closer look at the fury of Hell’s Gate, ride the Hell’s Gate Airtram across to the other side of the Fraser Rriver. Restaurants, gift shops and an interpretive centre await those daring enough to make the trip over the Fraser Canyon.
Hells Gate Fishways: Hell’s Gate is the name of the rapids located at the narrowest section of the Fraser River, within the Fraser Canyon. Fishways are man-made concrete tunnels that allow sockeye salmon to bypass the powerful Hell’s Gate rapids and thereby reach their spawning grounds more readily. Each fishway tunnel contains a series of baffles behind which back-eddies form. These back-eddies represent small rest areas for the salmon as they swim up the fishway. There are multiple fishways at Hell’s Gate that provide an accessible fishway for the salmon at differing water levels. The construction of the fishways began in the mid 1940s in an effort to enhance salmon stocks on the Fraser River.
Village of Koiaum: Across the Fraser River, at the community of North Bend, visitors will discover a historic First Nations cemetery dating back to the Village of Koiaum, the original settlement in this area.
Scuzzy Creek Recreation Site is a small, remote campsite located in a large mature Cottonwood stand alongside Scuzzy Creek. The 7-site campground is a great location for anglers and hikers to use as a base camp. There are no fees for this site. Access to Scuzzy Creek is by gravel road, suitable for most vehicles. From Boston Bar cross the Fraser River towards North Bend. Cross the train tracks and turn left on Green Ranch Road, continuing 12.5 km on the Forest Service Road.
Recreation: Activities in the area are plentiful, including fishing, boating, hiking, camping, kayaking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting. The varied terrain of the Vancouver, Coast and Mountains region of BC accommodates every outdoor recreation known to man.
Jackass Mountain: Even tough old gold prospectors have a sensitive side, it seems. Just north of Boston Bar is Jackass Mountain, a treacherous part of the Gold Rush trail named in commemoration of the many hapless pack animals who toiled up and down this precipitous grade.
Nahatlatch Provincial Park is an undeveloped wilderness on the west side of the Fraser River across from Boston Bar, accessed via the Nahatlatch Forest Service Road. The park’s main attraction is the Nahatlatch Lake and River system. Nahatlatch River flows from a series of three small lakes (Nahatlatch, Hannah and Frances) and empties into the Fraser River some 20km later. The powerful Nahatlach River features a spectacular series of rapids, ideal for river rafting and kayaking. Idling around the waters of the three lakes in the Nahatlatch system is serene, with the sound of loons, the still surfaces of the water, and the view of Mount Maston in the distance.
Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park: Allow a week or more to cover the entire length of the extended 40-mile (60-km) hiking route that transects Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park, located north of Boston Bar and immediately west of Lytton. This hike is suitable only for very fit, experienced hikers who are prepared to be totally self-sufficient. It’s important for hikers to remember that once you’ve reached Stein Lake, the halfway point, you are at least two days away from any assistance.
Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park, located in Spuzzum, between Yale and Boston Bar on Highway 1, provides an interesting place to stop in the Fraser Canyon. An interpretative display gives picnickers an idea of the canyon’s history.
Emory Creek Provincial Park has a small campground situated at the former townsite of Emory City, which was a tiny but bustling trading settlement in the mid 1800s. When the Canadian Pacific Railway decided that nearby Yale would be its major centre, Emory was left to ‘sigh and die.’ Conveniently located beside Highway 1 and the Fraser River, south of Yale and Boston Bar, historic Emory Creek Park fills up quickly in summer.
To the south of Boston Bar is the community of Spuzzum, immortalized in the early 1980s by the band “Six Cylinder” in a song with the refrain “If you haven’t been to Spuzzum, you ain’t been anywhere.” The name Spuzzum may be a local variant of spatsum, a Chinook Jargon word for the reed used in basket weaving. One source claims that the name is an Indian word meaning “little flat”, and that Spuzzum was the boundary between the Stó:lō and the Nlaka’pamux peoples
South of Boston Bar is the town of Yale, located at the southern entrance to the spectacular Fraser Canyon, the town of Yale is one of southwestern British Columbia’s oldest and most historic communities, having been the bustling steamship navigation capital during the Gold Rush.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on a driving Circle Tour. Head north out of Vancouver for the scenic Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour, or stay on the intensely scenic Sea to Sky Highway, passing through the magical winter resort town of Whistler and Coast Mountains Circle Tour. To explore the rural farmlands and forests of the fertile Fraser Valley, take the Fraser Valley Circle Tour, travelling outbound on the scenic route north of the historic Fraser River, returning westwards along the Trans Canada Highway 1 to Vancouver. Circle Tours in British Columbia.