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Travels of a Trucker The Fraser Canyon

November 24, 2011

The Load

A couple of years ago I was working for a totally different company. I was working for a company called Dolphin Transport based out of Burnaby, BC. I was doing loads up to Quesnel and Terrace for the Brick. My route would be the Fraser Canyon. If anyone is unsure of what the Brick is, it is a electronics/and home furnishings retail store located all across Canada.

The Fraser Canyon

The Fraser Canyon is a twisting winding road that traverses the old section of Highway 1. It is the old link between Kamloops going East and Vancouver or North to Prince George and the Yukon up to Alaska. undoubtedly with all it’s twists and turns, sharp curves and many tunnels, it is a place where accidents frequently occur. I can’t count on my hands and toes the number of times the Canyon has been closed due to fatalities. From trucks going over the cliffs to head on collisions the Canyon has seen them all and more over the years. Going a month in the Canyon without a fatality or a serious collision is a rare occurrence because people tend to push the limits above their abilities.

The Fraser Canyon stretches from Hope to Spences Bridge and winds it’s way alongside the Mighty Fraser River. It is an old highway dating back to the early pioneer days and relatively little has changed along the way except the continual road repairs. Typically the Fraser Canyon because of it;s lower altitude than the surrounding mountain pass roads has little or less snowfall accumulation than the newer roads like the Coquihalla. In fact, some winters it rarely sees snow falling on it’s roads for more than a couple of days in the year. Sometimes though the Fraser Canyon like anywhere else can see some dramatic climatic changes which lead to poor driving conditions. From Black Ice, to Freezing Rain to Snow. Because it does have some steep hills being in the mountains, it does have several commercial vehicle chain up areas. Places like Boston Bar and Jackass Mountain are two such places where the odd chain must be placed on.

Accident Scenes

Frequently as I stated before, accidents are very common on this road because of the narrow highway, speeds, and sharp curves. An accident scene can often shut the highway down for 4 or more hours easily and the resulting backup can be several kilometers long on a single lane highway in both directions. As in this case, I was stuck on the highway for a long time.

Times such as these can be frustrating with no phone reception and very little to do but wait. As I drive through the Canyon I can almost remember exactly where every memorial has been placed on this route from years of seeing them. From simple flowers to pictures to crosses they line the Fraser Canyon like a ghostly reminder of past tragic events. Some of which I have actually been in the lineups waiting to get through.

Not all is bad though. There are many occasions where I’ve had a great ride chatting on the VHF with other drivers and chatting my way through the Canyon. The scenery is spectacular and oftentimes in the summer I see lots of wildlife from Black Bears to Wolves, Coyotes, Deer and even the odd field mouse scurrying across the road at breakneck speeds that if you blinked you would miss them. Definitely have seen lots of carcasses splayed across the road from those unfortunate enough to have strayed in the path of an oncoming truck.

With it’s many hills and curves and corners, the Fraser Canyon is quite magnificent and a great tourist destination with it’s world famous Hell’s Gate. It is one of those wonders that if you haven’t seen it yet, you haven’t lived your life fully. If you have a chance to truck this way I recommend taking a trip up the Fraser Canyon.

The bottom line

If your a driver and you find yourself driving in these types of roads, slow down! No load can be that desperate that you would place your life and the life of your fellow road commuters in jeopardy. The curves are well marked with rollover warning signs. It has been told to me by a transportation worker that when multiple rollovers happen at certain spots they mark them with truck rollover warning signs or flashing lights along with reducing speed limit signs. And I can tell you, there are a lot of these signs in the Fraser Canyon which makes me wonder just how many trucks have actually rolled over. The answer is one too many (even though there has been a lot). If drivers obey the posted speed limits, take the time and stay aware, we can all get home safely.

Thanks for reading my blog and I hope you enjoy my pictures and my stories. Please follow along with me if you are not already. Stay safe and keep it sunny side up!

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One Comment
  1. Doris C permalink

    Hey Roger, always read your travels:)

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