I recently visited Fort St. James after a 29 year absence.
I rode the Greyhound van from Prince George with no other passengers. It was like having a chauffeured limo take me 100 miles for $34.
Mount Pope appeared on the horizon. In 1972 a friend and I scaled the face of the peak. No one told us there was a trail.
On arrival to town, I crossed the street to the library, but it was closed. The librarian saw me peering through the window and let me in to have a look around.
I stopped at the District office and spoke with staff. We had already exchanged e-mails about when the old mission church was built. It was actually finished in 1878, not 1873.
Then I went down to the lake and gazed at this uncluttered pre-glacial expanse bordered by low mountains.
An employee at Nak’albun school told me a nun lives in the only remaining house below the school. I timidly tapped on the door of the rear entrance, but no one was home. I wanted to relate a story I heard about papers of A.G. Morice being stored in an old garage in a metal can.
I wanted to rummage through the two old garages in a dismal hope of finding this treasure. I imagined writing an article about, “The Lost Papers of A.G. Morice”.
RVs were parked by the lake near a large chunk on concrete where I once spent the night.
I walked around the Fort for some time. A store clerk shook my hand and welcomed me back. I spoke with a former student who works in town. Good to see a familiar face.
I entered the CNC building and sat down. After a few minutes I realized the door was open for a contractor. No summer staff. The van that delivered me returned to Prince George minutes after arrival, so I was faced with the prospect of staying at a motel for four nights.
That chunk of concrete on the lake shore was beckoning.
Everywhere I went helpful people offered suggestions on how I might find transport to Vanderhoof to catch the Prince Rupert bus to Prince George.
A summer staffer at the Historic Park informed me that three employees are from Vanderhoof. They dropped me off at the depot in the Hoof and I caught my bus to Prince George.
The next day I viewed an e-mail from friends in Prince George saying they were driving to the Fort and would I like to accompany them.