Exploring the Smithers area – Telkwa, Round Lake and more

In real time, I got home yesterday, on Day 62 of the trip. In blog time, though, I’m still a week behind.

Day 55 of the trip, June 19th, started off wet and dreary, but the afternoon was a few hours of wandering backroads in the Smithers area to see what I could find. I had a historic community hall and a fossil park on the list, but was open to anything, and it turned out to be much more interesting than I’d expected.

After a morning of writing and dog-walking, I left the RV park at about 12:30 and drove east on Highway 16 as far as the community of Quick, deciding to work my way back to Smithers from there. At Quick, there was a cute Little Free Library with its base made from skis. Nearby was a house with a few things made from skis.

Little Free Library at Quick, BC
For decades I’ve been driving by signs pointing to “Historic Round Lake Hall”, always wondering what it might look like. Today was the day to find out.

Sign on Highway 16 pointing to Historic Round Lake Hall
The road around Round Lake is certainly a nice one for wandering on.

The road around Round Lake, BC
It’s an especially nice road to wander on if you like cows, which I do. I’d soon find out that the building directly above the nearest cows, on the far side of the lake, is Historic Round Lake Hall.

Farm at Round Lake, BC

Cows at Round Lake, BC
The Historic Round Lake Hall began life as the Fidel Hotel in the town of Hubert. In 1921, the abandoned building was moved across the frozen Bulkley River to its present location. in 2008-2009, the building was extensively renovated, and the grand reopening in April 2009 drew over 300 community members.

Historic Round Lake Hall
The Round Lake Hall Web site says: “In those days, it was the Women’s Community Club who oversaw the happenings and the original cornerstone bears testimony to their hard work.”

The cornerstone of the Historic Round Lake Hall
The view from in front of the hall. At the side of the hall is a picnic area, and out back is a camping area.

The view from Historic Round Lake Hall
Peeking through a window of the hall, I see the rafters hung with quilts.

Historic Round Lake Hall
Retracing my route back to Highway 16, I caught a glimpse of another old building off to the south, and did a U-turn. I took it at first to be a one-room school.

But it’s the community of Quick’s St. John the Divine Anglican church, which was also moved from the ghost town of Hubert, in 1928.

St. John the Divine Anglican church in Quick, BC
The door of the little church was unlocked. Inside, the walls and ceiling are lined with narrow tongue-and-groove fir. Up front, carved oak altar rails and lectern, and off to one side, a pump organ, with a pot-bellied wood stove to warm it up on the other side.

St. John the Divine Anglican church in Quick, BC
Small stained glass panels are at each end of the building. As you walk in, a rope hangs loose, to ring the bell with.

St. John the Divine Anglican church in Quick, BC
After having a good look at the church, I retraced my route east for a couple of miles to get some photos of Vic’s Garage, a classic design probably from the 1930s.

Vic's Garage in Quick, BC
Driving back towards Smithers, I stopped in Telkwa – “Where Rivers Meet & Friends Gather”, say the sogns at each end of the town, which has a population of 1,160. I’ve stopped briefly at Eddy Park on the Bulkley River a few times, but had never had a good look around. The bride on the left in this photo is a one-lane road bridge across the Bulkley River; the bridge on the right carries the Canadian National Railway across the Telkwa River.

Bridges in Telkwa, BC
A closer look at the railway bridge.

Railway bridge in Telkwa, BC
Timing is everything. The locomotive, a GPA-30a series F40PH-2D, sports a special wrap as part of this year’s “Canada 150” celebrations to mark the country’s 150th anniversary.

Train on the railway bridge in Telkwa, BC
Telkwa has some interesting churches. The most bizarre paint job I’ve ever seen on a church is on this one on the hill across from the school. The fire-breathing dragon wrapping around the side and front of the building is pretty awesome! I neglected to get closer and see which church it is.

church in Telkwa, BC

church in Telkwa, BC
St. Stephen’s Anglican church, built in 1910, is managed by the Telkwa Museum.

St. Stephen's Anglican church in Telkwa, BC
This is the United Church from 1920.

This 1910 building is now the Cointe River Inn as well as a general store and cafe.

Now almost 2:30, I needed to find a fun place for Bella and Tucker. Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park looked interesting in the brochure I picked up at the Visitor Information Centre, so we headed back towards Smithers. The highway signs signify that BC Highway 16 is part of the interprovincial Yellowhead Highway.

Highway 16, the Yellowhead
On the way to the park, I got stopped by the charming Driftwood Schoolhouse, built in 1944. The school closed in 1965 and was eventually sold to the Glenwood Hall Committee in 1989 for $5000. It’s available for rent for $75 per day, a rate which includes toilet paper for the outhouse and wood for the stove 🙂

Driftwood Schoolhouse, BC
Off to the park, which is 13.4 km off Highway 16.

The road to Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park, BC
Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park – the picnic area is very nice. The park Web site says that “Driftwood Canyon is recognized as one of the world’s most significant fossil beds.”

Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park, BC
Open-grate bridges often freak the kids out, but although initially hesitant, they got across this one, which leads to the fossil beds.

Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park, BC
There are many interpretive panels along the trail. They’ve very attractive, but with a high-gloss finish and just the right angle to reflect the sky, they’re very difficult to read and impossible to photograph for future reference. The angle would also make it impossible for kids to see them, and many are clearly aimed at kids.

Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park, BC
The fossil beds are high above this viewing area, and signs say that climbing the bank is no longer allowed. Overall, I consider the park to be a dud, despite being a good place to walk the dogs. No fossils to see, and signs that are just too hard to read to bother.

The drive back to Smithers from the park is very nice, though.

Driftwood, BC

The rain had mostly held off for our wander, but began to fall as we neared Smithers, and soon was too heavy for any more activities outside the motorhome.

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