Boat Encampment National Historic Site of Canada

Warsaw Mountain, Red Rock Bay, British Columbia
General view of Boat Encampment National Historic Site of Canada, showing its proximity to the Colombia River, a prominent trading route, 2002. (© Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, Roger Eddy, 2002.)
General view
(© Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, Roger Eddy, 2002.)
Address : Big Bend, Warsaw Mountain, Red Rock Bay, British Columbia

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1943-05-20
Dates:
  • 1811 to 1811 (Construction)
  • 1811 to 1861 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • David Thompson  (Person)
  • Northwest Company  (Organization)
  • Hudson’s Bay Company  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Boat Encampment  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1969-030, 2007-CED/SDC-019, 2007-CED/SDC-038

Plaque(s)


Original Plaque: 1953 on Big Bend Highway / 1972 near Mica Dam Big Bend Highway, British Columbia
Existing plaque: 1953 on Big Bend Highway / 1972 near Mica Dam Mica Dam (Sprague Bay north of Mica Creek), British Columbia

Located on the Big Bend of the Columbia River and now lying under the Mica reservoir, Boat Encampment was an important trans-shipment point where fur traders and travellers from Jasper House, having crossed the Athabasca Pass, boarded boats for Fort Vancouver. First visited by David Thompson who wintered there in 1811, Boat Encampment was for nearly 50 years an important transfer point on the express route from the Pacific Coast to Montreal and York Factory. It lost importance with the growth of Fort Victoria, advances in ocean transportation, and changes in the trading activities of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Description of Historic Place

The Boat Encampment National Historic Site of Canada was originally located between the mouths of the Wood and Canoe rivers, at the Big Bend of the Columbia River. In 1973, preceding the hydroelectric development of the Columbia River, which flooded the area of the original site, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada monument marking the site was relocated to a site near the Mica Dam. Relocated again in 2000, the monument now rests on a point in the Sprague Bay Recreation Site. The monument looks out towards the original boat encampment site, currently under the waters of the Mica Dam Reservoir. Official recognition refers to the site as it existed prior to 1973.

Heritage Value

The Boat Encampment was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1943 because: first visited by David Thompson in 1811, it was, for nearly 50 years, an important transfer point on the express route from the Pacific Coast to Montreal and York Factory; it was an important transshipment point where fur traders and travellers boarded boats for Fort Vancouver.

The Boat Encampment served as an important transshipment point for the fur brigades moving to and from the Columbia River across the continent. David Thompson, a fur trader under the employ of the Northwest Company, first visited the site in 1811, wintering there after traversing the Athabasca Pass. The location remained a meeting place for the following half century for the fur brigades of both the Northwest Company and later the Hudson’s Bay Company as they awaited pack trains coming over the mountain from Jasper House, an important supply depot for fur traders. Previously inaccessible by land, the construction of the Big Bend loop of the Trans-Canada Highway opened up the area to travelers and tourists in the spring of 1940. Three decades later, the site was flooded during the hydroelectric development of the Columbia River.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1943, July 2007

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of the site include: its proximity to the Colombia River, a prominent trading route. the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent.