Trekking Tales: Assignment at Moose Camp

Piecing together the visits of the Brown family was challenging enough, but I soon realized that the resort has its own history

  • Jul. 2, 2012 5:00 p.m.

It’s one thing to write a Trekking Tale describing my own experiences but pretending to be a reporter is a different story altogether. I discovered that when editor Keith McNeill asked me to visit Moose Camp Fishing Resort recently. Piecing together the visits of the Brown family from Seattle and Tacoma for 50 years was challenging enough, but I soon realized that the resort has its own history, which goes back much further. As always, deciding what to omit was the hardest. (Perhaps other reporters before me, novice and experienced, also became “misplaced” en route and arrived in a “tizzy” with fears of being late and missing the whole event!) I was most fortunate that this assignment was happy, interesting and took me to a lake in the “Management” that I had not seen before.

Moose Camp Fishing Resort, 34 km from Clearwater, came into being when Ed Rioux started a trapline in the late 1880s and built a cabin by the pretty lake that now bears his name.  It is hard to imagine those early treks and experiences. “When he got tired of one cabin,” former owner Glen McNeil explained, “he built a new one.”

These cabins and others, renovated and modernized, provide accommodation for guests like the Browns.

“In one of the oldest ones we found a receipt for 10 lb. of Nabob coffee,” added present owner John Meyers. “Dated May, 1887, the price was 35 cents!”

Brothers Herby and Benjy McNeil bought the trapline from Rioux in 1943, and guests had a bumpy ride before they caught their first fish. First they travelled to 94 Mile, then drove east along dirt roads via Lone Butte to the McNeils’ ranch at Canim Lake. The following morning the ranch’s jeep bounced them over the potholes for 12 km to the corral. Here their gear was loaded onto packhorses and they rode for some four to five hours (along a trail that still exists) to Moose Camp.

Herby was the owner when the Browns started coming in 1962, Benjy having moved on to other ventures. In those early days, after breakfast Herby would guide the Browns on horseback to a lake, hobble the horses, leaving the men to fish from rafts, hand-axed, while he built trails. Those rainbow trout were descendants of ones “planted” by the McNeils above the Canim-Red Creek Falls and which quickly migrated into Rioux, Coldscaur, Twin and other lakes in the area. Herby was also the cook for his international guests, but did employ a helper.

Benjy McNeil’s son Glen, and his wife Carol, bought the property and business from his uncle in 1969, remaining there for two or three years, more than enough time to build happy memories and a smoke house, and to get to know the Brown family during their annual visits.

Dave and June Jones were the next owners; their addition to the dining room gave more space in the building that had been Carol and Glen’s home, but is now devoted to food storage, preparation and serving of meals.

Frank and Pam Novak were next, followed by Mike and Sharon Thain. John Meyers bought the resort in 1991. He, with Nonie’s able assistance, has been there ever since.

 

I now have a lot more respect for reporters and a job well done. Armed with pen and paper, with or without some background information, they arrive at their destination, challenged with taking everything in at once and ultimately, deadline looming, presenting a balanced and entertaining assessment of the situation before them. Good on yer….