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Come out O Little Mocassins and frolic on the snow
Come out O tiny beaded feet and twinkle in the light
I'll play the old Red River reel, you used to love it so,
Awake, O Little Mocassins and dance for me tonight.
Robert W. Service

Jerry W. BirdI
I am the Yellowhead ...
by Jerry W. Bird

My vast domain spans half of Canada, the world's second largest country, with ports facing three great oceans. I follow the trails of natives and voyageurs westward from Lake Winnipeg and the forks of three historic rivers to the misty *Haida Gwa'ii, where British Columbia meets the North Pacific. Near majestic Mount Robson, Canada's highest peak, my second branch meanders south via Kamloops to Hope, gateway to the Fraser Valley. Crossing me is a journey into history, with Indian encampments older than Egypt's great pyramids, pristine national and provincial parks, ancient shrines and battle sites. Ethnic dances and pageants salute every facet of Canada's heritage, and if you love the magic of serendipity, a new surprise awaits around each bend. If you find some parts of the country a little "behind the times " ... a popular Saskatchewan Tourism poster says, "Count yourself lucky. You've discovered the true Canada." Get a copy of my official Road Map, or a reasonable facsimile? Stretch it out on the table or across the hood or your vehicle. Glancing from east to west, you'll see that my eastern terminus is Winnipeg, Manitoba at the foot of two large lakes. Tracing my path westward, I parallel the North Saskatchewan River to Edmonton, and follow the Athabaska River into Jasper National Park, Canada's Rocky Mountain playground. Further west near Mount Robson, I give motorists the option of heading directly west via Prince George, or south via Kamloops to the town of Hope at the entrance to the Fraser Valley and port of Vancouver. On these segments I follow the North Thompson, the Mighty Fraser and Skeena Rivers.

Canada's Historic Route. To begin your journey down my pathway to pleasure, imagine your auto or RV is a time-capsule, as you cruise along this broad ribbon of Canadiana, in the wake of nomadic hunters, voyageurs, missionaries, traders, sodbusters, fortune-seekers and railroad builders. Before we dim the lights and start the movie, you're curious to know how the name Yellowhead was derived -- right? In the 1870s, a roving Iroquois Metis guide, dubbed Tete Jaune for his golden locks, gave title to a mountain pass near Jasper House, and gained instant immortality. Fly-Drive Holidays are all the rage, in an age when time has become more valuable than money. You can fly the "Air Highways" to dozens of gateway airports from east to west, then take your pick of ground transport, be it an automobile, van or RV rental or Via Rail Canada's Yellowhead- Skeena Route to Prince Rupert.

A Taste of Canada. I appeal to nature lovers and adventurous souls with a taste for the finer things. So, get out the fishing rod, thermos jug and picnic basket! This great drive might easily be called a Great Canadian Taste Tour. Why? -- the Yellowhead crosses and parallels famous rivers and nameless streams, skirts many lakes great and small, visits orchards, ranches, farmers markets and unique dining spots. You can feast on Winnipeg Goldeye, rainbow trout, Pacific salmon, Alaska king crab, oysters, mussels and clams, prairie chicken, moose steak, buffalo burgers, award-winning Alberta beef and Okanagan wines. Add the world's finest cereal grains and 1001 varieties of ethnic fare -- how near to heaven can you get? And if you like to sing on long car trips, there's always a cinemascopic backdrop to enhance the performance; prairie skies, tumbleweed, moose pasture,. More

There's a land where the mountains are nameless
And the rivers all run, god knows where.
There are lives that are erring and aimless
And deaths that just hang by a hair.
There are hardships that nobody reckons
There are valleys unpeopled and still
There's a land, how it beckons and beckons
And I want to go back, and I will.
Robert W. Service

Alaska Highway celebrates 60 Years

Imagine you are a time traveler. The year is 1942. The month is February - and our whole world is gripped by total war. For the moment, Axis forces hold the initiative, and for weeks following the Pearl Harbor disaster, every ship leaving North America's Pacific ports is threatened. The president's directive is clear: Furnish a supply route to the network of northern airfields - an overland route to supplement our air and sea lanes; one secure from attack." Approval comes swiftly, and the task begins, with end points set up by the military at
Dawson Creek, BC. and Big Delta, Alaska. Overnight, the entire North mobilizes, as the rugged Trail of '42 rivals the famous Trail of '98 in worldwide focus. Those of us living in the Yukon at the time felt suddenly in the forefront of the action. What some called North America's greatest construction project since the Panama Canal began as a marvel of mobility at the time. U.S. Authorities combed the entire coast, seeking available water transportation, creating a patchwork flotilla of yachts, cargo vessels, tugs fish boats and barges.

This story is from the opening of a half hour commemorative video, written by Jerry W. Bird for the Canadian Government as a salute to the Alaska Highway's 50th Anniversary. See photos taken during construction phase

The Alaska Highway was also a massive sea-bridge, spanning the coastal fjords of the Inside Passage to historic Skagway, then over the
White Pass by narrow-gauge railway to Whitehorse on the Yukon River, or up-coast to Valdez, Alaska, near Anchorage. Inland, a 500-mile connection existed via rail and dirt road, from Edmonton to the staging point at Dawson Creek, BC. Mere dots on the map soon became feverish anthills of activity, as mountains of supplies and acres of equipment were stockpiled along the way. The fleet of paddle wheelers that plied the Yukon since the Gold Rush of the 1890s was pressed into service, since there were no real roads connecting the territory's main communities. More-

Explore BC's Gold Rush Trail

In the 1850s, BC's Gold Rush drew prospectors from around the world, most of whom made their way by various forms of conveyance, up the Mighty Fraser, from its mouth near Sea Island (Richmond) to the head of navigation at Yale. North of Hope, the is a rugged stretch or road and trail that hugs the shoulders of the Fraser Canyon, as down below, the foamy white rapids churn and roar. Places to visit along the way include Hope, Hell's Gate with its famous Air Tram, Spuzzum, Boston Bar, Lytton, Lillooet (original Mile 0 of the Cariboo Trail) and a string of frontier towns. We visited the historic Fraser Canyon again last summer, heading west from Merrit to Spence's Bridge, and took the time to truly appreciate the awesome scenery. You can see how challenging it was for the gold prospectors in their difficult quest. This route between Hope and Cache Creek is a 'great drive' experience you'll never forget, with its sharp turns, railway tunnels, historic sites and exciting view points. So take your time, and don't forget to stop and smell the flowers. They were blooming on every hillside on our last trip. More->

Great Drives to Canada's Hot Springs Heaven

The eternal icefields wear a "necklace of thermal springs", fed from water trapped in fissures and caverns deep in the roots of the Rockies. Raging rivers, glutted by the seasonal runoff, churn and boil like some concoction from a giant soda fountain. Oh the joys of steamy, bubbly-hot, sulfur-scented waters; Solus Par Aqua (health by water) to the Romans; a sacred rite to Canada's native peoples, and Shangri-La to we hot springs fanatics. Speaking of natural spas, the Kootenays have them in spades; Ainsworth, Halycon, Nakusp, Ram Creek and Wild Horse. Many of these natural spas along the Columbia Valley and Continental Divide are so enticing, you'll want to stop the car right there and take the plunge. More->

East Kootenays and Columbia Valley to Golden, Banff and Jasper
You can relax at one of the local hot spring resort locations, such as Fairmont Hot Springs, which has four pools with an average temperature of 40 degrees Celsius or Radium Hot Springs, with two springs averaging 35 degrees, both north of Cranbrook on Highway 95. Nearby and hottest of all is Lussier Hot Springs near Canal Flats, whose waters hit a healthy 44 degrees. .Map of river and area below shows access via airports and highways.. Click for map