Day 11: Hazelton to Telkwa

Distance: 90 km

Elevation: 937 m

Date: August 12, 2022

After a good night sleep, Stacey had prepared a hearty and healthy breakfast.

Marti had been gone fishing again early so it was just the two of us. Although I have not met him in person, he seems to be a bit like MacGyver. He likes to fix things and improvise, especially with cars. It is not so much about perfection with him but about ingenuity. One part of the property was entirely full with old cars in different stages of disorder and driving readiness.

During breakfast I dared to ask her about the history of the Residential Schools. Here is what I learned.

Around 1850 the Canadian Government wanted to „civilize“ the indigenous people to turn them into good laborers or farmers This was part of an initiative to achieve independence as a country.

The government asked the different churches to launch Residential Schools, a sort of boarding school only for kids from the First Nations.

There were up to 3,000 of these schools in all of Canada. The kids were taken from their homes by government officials against their will. The families obeyed because they were fearing punishment. The kids would return home only during the summer holidays.

In the schools they were not allowed to speak their language or live their traditions. Their hear was cut „properly“. If they would not obey they would be beaten and punished in many ways.

There were many cases of sexual abuse by members of the church in Residential Schools which were kept secret for way too long. Many kids also died because of sickness, extreme punishment, suicide or because they ran away and died trying.

In 1969 the situation had become so dramatic in the schools that the Canadian Government took over. But things did not get much better. The last schools were only closed in the 1990ies.

Only in the last decade the full dimension of the injustice of this perverse system has started to become unearthed.

Generations of kids have lost the roots to their families and to their way of life. They did not know how to be First Nations and remained aliens amongst the „white“ people.

To numb this pain, alcohol and drugs were often used. And as they grew older, they passed on this trauma to the next generation.

For more details you may want to follow this link:

After our conversation I buckled up, thanked Stacey for her flexible last-minute hospitality and for what I had learned from her both on Canadian history and concerning Warmshowers.

Stacey Brown

Around 9:30 am I was on the road again. The first 40 km were a massive climb and it became quickly very hot again. In hintside it had been a good idea to stay in Hazelton.

I cycled across one beast of a suspension bridge. The floor was made of meshed metal so you could see right through it. Scary!

Gradually, the roads are becoming worse here and the shoulder (German “Seitenstreifen”) is often not there, broken or gravel. On the other hand, the logging trucks are becoming increasingly aggressive. I had a few situations today that were both scary and entirely avoidable.

Going through Smithers the road left the Skeena River and follows now the Bulkley river. Actually, Hazelton was the most northern point on my route this year.

I had short breaks in small First Nation villages were the gas station was the main meeting point. The energy was heavy and I felt also desperation. Hence I never staid very long.

I saw some signs along the way that were going in Hugh’s direction with regards to the Covid measures.

One official looking sign warned people of a coming food shortage. People should keep a supply of dried food that would last for 3 months. How should this be even possible in reality? I wondered if this was maybe a hoax.

After 90 km and a lot of climbing I arrived in Telkwa which has a provincial campground right by a lake. Camping seems to be free here if you are a cyclist. At least, nobody wanted any money from me.

I took a swim in the lake and showered. This is always one of the best parts of the day. I talked to my neighbor while sitting on a bench. It turned out that he was German from Saxony who was visiting his daughters and grandkids here. Funny story.

I made dinner when a thunderstorm was building up. My neighbors agreed to let me stash away my food bag in their car since there was no bear cache here. I had a rope meanwhile but roping something up 3m high and 2m away from the trunk is easier said than done.

Later my neighbors Peter and Maureen invited me over for a beer. They came from Vancouver and where on their way back from Alaska. Both were in their sixties. Peter was in the wood industry and Maureen worked in the administration of a hospital. Oh, and they were both leaders in a Boy Scout / Girl Scout organization. We had a very nice chat.

Around 10:30 pm I was in bed awaiting the thunderstorm to come.

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