The Victoria sternwheeler
was a passenger and freight steamer that was built for service on the Soda Creek
route on the upper Fraser River
in British Columbia
She was built at Quesnel by pioneer shipbuilder James Trahey of Victoria
for Gustavus Blin-Wright
and Captain Thomas Wright and was put into service in the spring of 1869 to augment the service of the Enterprise
also built by Trahey for the Wrights. Although the Victoria's
hull was new, her engines and boiler had originally been in the Prince of Wales
from Lillooet Lake
The Victoria was the second of twelve sternwheelers that would work on this section of the Fraser. She was larger than the Enterprise and more powerful. The two steamers worked together for only three years, when in 1871, the Enterprise was taken up to Takla Landing and abandoned on Trembleur Lake. The Victoria would work alone on the Soda Creek to Quesnel route for fifteen more years until 1886.
The Fraser River
was not considered navigable by sternwheeler between Yale
and Soda Creek due to many hazardous canyons and rapids. The last obstacle to navigation was just downriver from Soda Creek, the Soda Creek Canyon
, so the terminus of river navigation on the upper Fraser River was located at Soda Creek. From there a steamer could travel with no obstructions to Quesnel where a stage road ran to Barkerville
The stages of Barnard's Express
would travel on the Cariboo Road
up from Yale and connect with the Victoria at Soda Creek, a distance of 167 miles. Passengers and freight would then be transferred onto the sternwheeler and travel upriver 56 miles to Quesnel. Once there they would be transferred to company stages again to Barkerville for the last 54 miles. The Victoria
made this trip three times a week, from May to October, from 1869 until 1886.
She would be taken out of the river and berthed at Steamboat Landing near Alexandria
in the fall of 1886. With her departure the upper Fraser River would be without steamer service until 1906.
References and further reading
- Downs, Art (1971). Paddlewheels on the Frontier Volume 1. Foremost Publishing.
- West, Willis (1985). Stagecoach and Sternwheel Days in the Cariboo and Central BC. Heritage House.
- West, Willis (1949). The BX and the Rush to Fort George. British Columbia Historical Quarterly.