On Aug. 17, 2002 Wade Christian was killed when he was hit by a vehicle while riding his motorbike near Fort St. James.
The 32-year-old was in the process of building a house on the Necoslie River for his partner Laurie Mason, who was pregnant at the time with their daughter Taylor.
Ten years after the tragic day, Christian is still remembered, and now his memory is honoured on maps as well.
Christian was employed up at Kemess mine, working on the North Kemess Project shortly before his death. He was operating a cat, building roads for a drilling exploration program.
It was a fly-in operation, and over the two months he worked with pilot Ryan Hines, Hines said he got to know Wade well.
“He was a great guy,” said Hines. “He was just kind of haywire, but in a good way – he just kind of enjoyed life.”
Hines considered Christian an asset to camp life. With morale being a hard thing to maintain during long shifts away from friends and family, it is people like Christian who help.
“A really positive guy, all the guys really, really liked him, he was a lot of fun,” said Hines.
One ridge in the centre of the copper and gold deposit they were working on was a particularly steep obstacle for exploration, so the plan was to put the drill in place with a helicopter.
However, Wade Christian decided to give it a try, and so he worked his cat on the steep ridge, and ended up building a road to the spot.
“Which none of us … thought he would be able to do,” said Hines. “But he did it.”
So from then on, the ridge became known as Wade’s Ridge, as Hines then used the name “Wade’s Ridge” as a pilot to call his location each time he went in and out to pick up the workers.
Kemess then created their maps for the drill program using the name on the maps to mark the spot.
“It’s official,” said Hines.
Christian reached the ridge with his machine only a few weeks before he was killed, but he clearly left his mark on the project.
Sharon Buck, Christian’s mother, heard about the ridge named for her son through Laurie Mason, now Laurie Liske.
“I started to cry,” said Buck. “I couldn’t believe it, I was just so pleased.”
The timing could not have been better, because Buck had wanted some way to mark the 10-year anniversary of her son’s death.
She said her son was planning on going back up to work at Kemess when he was killed.
“He loved it up there, he loved the mountains,” she said.
It was in mountains where Buck and Christian had become close as mother and son.
The two had been running a hunting camp up north, guiding hunters in the Yukon Territories, and the remote wilderness experience was how she said she and her son got so they really knew and understood one another.
He would guide most of the larger animals, but he would give her breaks from the cooking and camp duties so she could still get outside, work with the horses and guide hunters on caribou. He guided caribou, bear, moose, and sheep.
A man who had tried his hand at many different occupations, Christian is said to have lived life to it’s fullest and Buck said one of his friend’s once told her “it’s like he just crammed so much into his life it was like he had a premonition.”