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Old 11-14-2015, 12:06 AM   #1
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Butedale

In 1977 on my way back south to ship my Land Rover back home to Hawaii after a five week fishing/camping trip to the Yukon the BC ferry Queen of Prince Rupert went past the Butedale cannery. The captain (or somebody) announced we were passing the cannery on the ship's PA system, and added the comment that it had the distinction of being the largest cannery on the west coast.

I don't think the cannery was in operation then: all I recall was a bunch of big buildings which in my mind's eye were painted red (but maybe weren't). But it seemed pretty intact. It was on that ferry passing through that landscape that I made the decision to leave Hawaii and move to the PNW. Two years later, I did.

In 1985 when my wife and I made our first flight up the Inside Passage with a Beaver on floats we landed at Butedale and tied up to what was left of one of the floating docks. We spent several hours there, talking to the caretaker and exploring the place. The huge cannery building had burned down but the rest of the community was still intact. There were even still some items on the shelves in the store although the store itself was closed.

On our subsequent flights over the years we couldn't stop at Butedale itself because there were no docks left that were conducive to mooring a floatplane. So we would fly into the lake up behind the site, back the plane up to the shore, and eat our picnic lunch before finishing our flight to Seal Cove in Prince Rupert.

As the years went by the remaining buildings deteriorated rapidly, with some of them including the store toppling sideways as the pilings under them rotted out.

This evening Butedale came to mind for some reason. Even though it figured in one of the stories in my book about Kenmore Air Harbor Bob Munro, Kenmore's founder, had never taken any photos of the place when'd he'd stopped there when it was a going concern. So I did a little web search.

I know a number of people here have taken their boats up and down the Passage in recent years so I thought I'd put the photos I found up so they could see what Butedale was like when it was actually canning salmon.
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Old 11-14-2015, 12:50 AM   #2
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Thanks Marin
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Old 11-14-2015, 02:00 AM   #3
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Thank You.
I;ve not been but it still is nice to see shots f some of these places.
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Old 11-14-2015, 07:22 AM   #4
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Great shots Marin. We pass Butedale regularly on our jaunts. It is not a fun or easy place to tie up anymore but certainly has the nostalgia factor.

The PNW has several other once thriving communities that have nearly disappeared such as Namu and Ocean Falls in BC and Pelican in Alaska. Many in BC are doing their best to shut down Kitimat and will likely be successful in a few decades as the aluminum industry suffers from constant oversupply.

One of our favorite stops is Pelican in Alaska which relies solely upon retirees, charter fishing and Alaska state support. Most of the fascinating PNW communities share inaccessibility except by water or plane. Certainly a cruisers delight and a boon for the lower mainland boating establishment. Party on
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Old 11-14-2015, 08:18 AM   #5
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Many in BC are doing their best to shut down Kitimat and will likely be successful in a few decades as the aluminum industry suffers from constant oversupply.
Say what!??!

People have been living at Kitimat (Kitamaat) for thousands of years, and there are more than a few of us "newcomers" who'll remain even if the smelter shuts down.

Also...PNW is a USA-centric view...BC has a south coast, a central coast, and a north coast.
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Old 11-14-2015, 09:52 AM   #6
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Love this kind of first hand history, the backdrop to the third pic shows just how breathtakingly beautiful it was. I wonder if the dam is a natural phenomenon or man made? Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-14-2015, 10:04 AM   #7
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Say what!??!

People have been living at Kitimat (Kitamaat) for thousands of years, and there are more than a few of us "newcomers" who'll remain even if the smelter shuts down.

Also...PNW is a USA-centric view...BC has a south coast, a central coast, and a north coast.
Figured you'd bite .

BTW, Kitimat, Ocean Falls and Namu are arguably on the mainland aren't they?
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Old 11-14-2015, 10:49 AM   #8
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Figured you'd bite .
Jerk!

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BTW, Kitimat, Ocean Falls and Namu are arguably on the mainland aren't they?
Yup.
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Old 11-14-2015, 10:59 AM   #9
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...the backdrop to the third pic shows just how breathtakingly beautiful it was...
As is the whole area. See my avatar, Canoona Falls, which is just south of Butedale.

Got a float plane story for you Marin. My wife and I were sea kayaking south towards Bella Bella in Princess Royal Channel in early November when a float plane went over us heading north. It swung around and gave us another pass overhead, lower this time, and rocked its wings slowly from side to side to say hello. It was our first human contact in weeks and gave us a huge boost.
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Old 11-14-2015, 11:49 AM   #10
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Marin,
Thanks for posting the photos. We passed it this last May and there is not much left. I recall reading in one of the cruising guides that the present owner plans to build a fishing lodge there. Perhaps someone can update my memory blank on the plans for a lodge.
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Old 11-14-2015, 11:55 AM   #11
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As it happens, the last caretaker is on my letter carrier route...I'll have a chat with him next time we bump into each other.
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Old 11-14-2015, 01:02 PM   #12
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I wonder if the dam is a natural phenomenon or man made? Thanks for sharing.
To my knowledge there is no dam or dike on the lake. The tumbling waterfall into the channel is natural. The cannery was powered by electricity that was generated by a couple of small water turbines that were fed by a large wooden pipeline that came down from the lake. The height of the drop in elevation provided the water pressure.

When we visited this system was still running. A wooden walkway ran beside the pipe and we tried to walk up to the lake but partway up our progress was stopped by huge jets of water that were arcing out into the forest from cracks or holes in the pipe.
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Old 11-14-2015, 01:34 PM   #13
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Passing Butedale on my way to Juneau in August, 1982 (cellphone pic of a slide):
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Old 11-14-2015, 01:45 PM   #14
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My first wife and I stopped at Butedale in the early 70's. Kathleen really really liked long hot showers and she was delighted when they said she could shower all day w as much hot water as she wanted.
We hiked up to the lake along the pipe as it was in good shape then.
The last time Chris and I were there was in 2012 when we brought Willy down. Tom is there still a caretaker there? In 2012 the guy said it was his last year but I had the feeling he said that every year and is probably still there. Acording to him the new owners were very undesirable.
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Old 11-14-2015, 02:34 PM   #15
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I went by the first time in 1985, the wooden pipe that ran the generators was still basically intact but had a hole in it that shot water 30-40' out on side just above the generators. Every cabin in the "town" had a light on in it, deer wandered the streets, and the caretaker was present but not friendly. The dock was basically a couple of logs along the shore with boards named down over them and the buildings were basically intact, there was even a shed over the fire hydrant and rotting hose in it.

My last trip past was in 2013 and almost all of the houses were gone, the main building roof had collapsed, and the shed over the hydrant was gone. The dockage was still a couple of logs along the shore with boards nailed over them, the big orange cat that came down to visit could get them bouncing when he came prancing down. The wooden pipeline had been cut by some jerk with a chainsaw up close to the lake (according to the caretaker), and he had built a sluice box to channel water from the stream back into the open end of the pipe above the cut pipe so one of the generators was still spinning and generating. The metal covers were missing off the generators and it was getting pretty run down.

The caretaker said the property had just been sold, and that there were plans to build a resort there. He also indicated there was a white black bear (not an albino) that frequented the area, and he had put barbed wire around trying to capture some hair off of it to sell to the tourists.

One cabin was set up as a rental, and the caretaker sold trinkets from the cabin he lived in. He asked for a couple of dollars to be tied for the night, and was happy with the $20 I offered. It was well worth it given the lack of decent anchorages in the area, and there is a lot of debris on the bottom so you would't want to risk your anchor there. A large sailboat also came in for the night I was there, so I assume mooring transients is a steady small income for the caretaker. He said when one of his dock logs gets too waterlogged, he runs out in the channel and captures another one to replace it.

I have always loved that place, and wouldn't consider going past it without stopping.
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Old 11-14-2015, 02:41 PM   #16
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As is the whole area. See my avatar, Canoona Falls, which is just south of Butedale.

Got a float plane story for you Marin. My wife and I were sea kayaking south towards Bella Bella in Princess Royal Channel in early November when a float plane went over us heading north. It swung around and gave us another pass overhead, lower this time, and rocked its wings slowly from side to side to say hello. It was our first human contact in weeks and gave us a huge boost.
I thought your Avatar looked familiar!
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Old 11-14-2015, 03:13 PM   #17
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I thought your Avatar looked familiar!
Here's one a bit bigger (black lines are the clear edges of the 4x5 film, printed through a glass carrier, which would be cropped out when matted)
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Old 11-14-2015, 04:02 PM   #18
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Great shots Marin. We pass Butedale regularly on our jaunts. It is not a fun or easy place to tie up anymore but certainly has the nostalgia factor.

The PNW has several other once thriving communities that have nearly disappeared such as Namu and Ocean Falls in BC and Pelican in Alaska. Many in BC are doing their best to shut down Kitimat and will likely be successful in a few decades as the aluminum industry suffers from constant oversupply.

One of our favorite stops is Pelican in Alaska which relies solely upon retirees, charter fishing and Alaska state support. Most of the fascinating PNW communities share inaccessibility except by water or plane. Certainly a cruisers delight and a boon for the lower mainland boating establishment. Party on
The BC government gave Alcan a sweet (and still highly controversial) deal on the water for the hydro electric generation at Kitimat, and I don't believe they will be shutting it down anytime soon. That said I'm no expert on the economics of aluminum oversupply.
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Old 11-14-2015, 04:22 PM   #19
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Thanks for the info, Marin.

I rafted up to the current owner of Butedale several years ago in Hartley Bay. At the time he was boating with his family and had just visited Butedale and learned it was for sale. Fast forward a few months and he bought the place. Since he's owned it he's done some limited clean up, but not made any huge changes. He put a new ramp in recently and had the docks resurfaced.

Technically Butedale is closed for business, but they never turn people away. Cory Lindsey is the caretaker now. He's a nice guy and happy to show visitors around. Although there's no charge for moorage, tips are greatly appreciated!

Lou Simoneau (not sure I have that spelling correct) was the caretaker for many years. A couple years ago he was heading to Kitimat from Butedale during the winter. It was just above freezing and the wind was blowing 40+ knots. Lou's main engine died and while he was in the cockpit getting the kicker started the boat hit the rocks and he was tossed overboard. He managed to swim several hundred yards to shore and covered himself in moss to stay warm. Before he went overboard he'd radioed the Coast Guard and told them what was going on. Lou's spent the night on shore and the Coasties found him the next day. At least that's the story Cory told me last year.
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Old 11-14-2015, 06:09 PM   #20
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Tough old goat...it was -14C (7F)

Kitimat Daily: SURVIVING A COLD NIGHT ON THE DOUGLAS CHANNEL

He has his boat, "The Butedale Express" in his driveway. I'll try and get an update.
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