I’ve lived in Canada for years now and yet after spending time in Stewart, I feel like I’m in a different country. It feels like I live on the very edge of civilization, with no cell phones or Tim Hortons and one Gas station.
The closest closest major town, Terrace, ( pop: 10,000) is well over 300 km away from here on wet, winding roads at the foot of majestic , snow-capped mountains. Vancouver is about 1,400 km away. Every now and then as I drive down to Terrace, I’d see a black bear on the edge of the road, munching away at its food and casting a lazy glance at me as I speed by. Sometimes they would wander across the road so that I have to slow down and repeatedly honk my horn to get them out of the way… They look at you as if to say "Whats your problem? can't you see I'm walking here".
I remember the first time I got here, when seeing a bear was a novelty, now its become almost routine. Something like Canada geese on UW’s campus, but nowhere near as irritating. I’ve settled into a pretty rigorous routine of waking up at 5a.m., breakfast at 6 a.m. and a 45 minute drive up rugged mountain side to our construction office.
I tend to drive in the middle of the road because I neither want to get too close to the mountain as there is a risk of rock falls nor do I want to get too close to the edge…a 600 ft+ drop that no one could possibly survive. There’s not much room for manoeuvre when you encounter another vehicle on the road so there are always scary moments when I’m going around bends and I can’t see what’s coming at me. It doesn’t help that there are some absolutely mad individuals on that road that do 100 km/h on stretches that I would hesitate to do 50. It takes some getting used for sure but i certainly prefer it over a Mississauga traffic jam.
It’s helped considerably that the tourists are no longer in town, driving up to see the breathtakingly beautiful Salmon Glacier. The comedy of watching old couples driving up in huge RVs along narrow roads is something I miss but the frustration of having to wait behind them bothered me no-end….
I’ve seen all types of cars come up these roads, everything from 7 series BMWs to Fiats and Jettas, Jeeps and Corollas. The summers make this place a true beehive of activity as tourists from all the U.S and Canada swarm the tiny little town. I've seen plates from Quebec, Florida, New York, Michigan...places thousands of miles away. Occasionally you see a clueless bastard try to get cell phone service when they are walking around Town…there’s nothing up here of course, but no one says a word …it’s too much fun watching their faces as they figure it out…