Winner (second prize), 2019 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Historical Writing
A revealing history of the ancient trail that served as a major transportation route between Washington and British Columbia and shaped the cultural and economic ties between the two jurisdictions.
Trails are the most enduring memorials of human occupation. Long before stone monuments were created, pathways throughout the world were being worn into hardness by human feet. Travellers along the stretch of Highway 97 from Brewster, Washington, to Kamloops, BC, may not know that they are travelling a route as old as humankind's presence in the region. In fact, this north-south valley, a natural corridor linking the two major river systems that drain the Interior Plateau, has served as transportation route for tens of thousands of years.
Trail North traces the origins of this iconic trail among the Indigenous people of the Interior Plateau and its uses by the three different fur trading companies, before turning its focus on the period of 1858 to 1868, when the trail was used by miners, packers, and cattlemen as the major entry point into British Columbia from Washington Territory. The historical use of the trail in both jurisdictions is a fascinating episode in the history of the Pacific Northwest.
Ken Mather has been involved in researching, writing, and interpreting western Canadian heritage for four decades, working in curatorial, management, and research roles at Fort Edmonton Park, Barkerville, and the O'Keefe Ranch since the early 1970s. He is also the author of four previous books on pioneering, ranching, and cowboy history: Ranch Tales, Frontier Cowboys and the Great Divide, Bronc Busters and Hay Sloops, and Buckeroos and Mud Pups.