Right: The cover of a book which began after the author was inspired by a legend sung to him one evening inside a hunting cabin in the Manson Creek area. The song sparked the author’s interest in the local legend of prospector Hugh Gillis.

Omineca inspiration

Guide-outfitter Larry Erickson in the Manson Creek area pulled out his guitar one evening in a hunting cabin and sang a song.

Guide-outfitter Larry Erickson in the Manson Creek area pulled out his guitar one evening in a hunting cabin and sang a song.

Little did Erickson know he would inspire his guest Lloyd Jeck to write an entire book.

The song told the story of Hugh Gillis, a miner seeking his fortune in the Omineca gold fields in the 1870s.

The legend is Gillis, a successful hotel owner with his partner in Quesnel, B.C., had gone up to the Omineca to find his fortune, leaving his love behind with the promise he would return to marry her in one year.

As Gillis was leaving the Lost Creek area of Manson Creek in 1872, the story goes he received a letter from his betrothed, walked off the trail and killed himself.

The song and the story it told sparked the imagination of Lloyd Jeck, and he decided to investigate the unanswered questions, and ended up writing an entire book on pioneers of B.C. and their stories.

The book is called British Columbia Trail sHeading North, and it includes 33 pages on the story of Gillis, going all the way from where he was born in Prince Edward Island to what is known about his death on Baldy Mountain, where a gravesite still exists to this day.

“It makes quite a story,” said Jeck, who published his book in 2000, but only recently held a book-signing event at Books and Company in Prince George this fall.

The author himself has spent quite a bit of time in the area, as he worked as a forestry contractor in Vanderhoof and Fort St. James for four years before he became the area manager for the Minister of Highways in Vanderhoof for six years until he retired.

The 10 years in the area took him up into the Omineca area many times, and he and his son were visiting the Erickson hunting camp when he heard the tale which sparked this ambitious historical project.