Tall northern tales

The kids and I took a trip to the north coast last weekend to visit my month-old nephew. We flew into Terrace on a Dash 8 (i.e. a Westfalia on wings), then drove from Terrace to Prince Rupert. The route took us past looming cliffs (including one that arced right over the highway and dumped a waterfall onto our windshield) and the wide and wild Skeena River.

But wow, Prince Rupert is rainy. People who decide to live there have special IV lines permanently inserted, so they can receive daily infusions of vitamin D. (Not really.) (But they should.)

As we walked along the waterfront in the rain on Saturday, we met an octogenarian who had lived in town since World War II. He told us about Prince Rupert before there was road access. Then he pointed to a barge in the harbour carrying a collection of multi-coloured shacks. It was a floating logging camp, he said, and just like the ones on which he used to work.

As we were about to part, he said, “But the best thing about Prince Rupert is the climate.” My sister and brother-in-law and I all stared at him. “We don’t get the big storms they get in other places,” he said. “It’s peaceful here.”

He’d obviously had his vitamin D infusion that day.

According to my brother-in-law, Prince Rupert was supposed to be a major city. Charles Melville Hays, president of the Grand Trunk Railway, thought it could be the greatest deep-water port on the coast. But Charles died on the Titanic, and Prince Rupert’s big-city aspirations went with him.

I thought the whole trip was worth it just for that story. And for my nephew, of course, who is just as adorable as his big brother and who so far shows no signs of sunshine deficiency.