We arrived in the tiny town of Sicamous just before 6pm. Sicamous is most famous as the houseboat capital of BC. What’s houseboating? It is exactly what it sounds.
It’s a giant two storey boat that can accommodate 10-24 people, depending on the model. It’s a popular summer activitiy in Sicamous, which sits on the giant Shuswap Lake. Folks rent these boats for days or a week and just take it around Shuswap Lake and sleep on them. It’s essentially an RV on water.
However, we weren’t in Sicamous for houseboating. Houseboating season hadn’t even started yet. We were here for (that’s right) Chinese dinner.
Just off to the side of Highway 97A sat this tiny roadside restaurant called the Goldstar Family Restaurant. The restaurant inside felt like it might have been a German restaurant at one time. There was a brown trim around the white walls. The outside was pink with a green roof. The food was something to write home about, but not for exactly the right reasons.
We got three veggie dishes that were almost exactly the same. Even one of the other travellers commented to the server that she got the same dish as the one before. The server exclaimed, “No! Look here. This one has beef and the other one didn’t.” I was just laughing my head off. Three dishes with the exact same sauce and the exact same veggies. The only difference was beef versus canned corn versus who-knows-what.
However, I did deeply appreciate the classic 60’s/70’s dishware that the food was served upon. I hadn’t seen these dish patterns in quite a while. The soup at the beginning of the meal actually made for a great photo. Talk about living vintage.
After our mediocre Chinese meal in Sicamous, we were back on the bus and we turned onto the Trans-Canada Highway and pointed the bus towards Banff.
The next stop on our journey was Craigellachie, BC. If you haven’t heard of this town, I don’t blame you. It’s a tiny village along the Trans-Canada Highway. However, it is an important landmark in Canadian history. Craigellachie is home to the Last Spike that completed the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885.
I had been here a few years ago with my wife on our way to Calgary in 2012. So I had already taken all the pictures I want of the little historic site. Rocky, our tour guide, was pointing out which exact nail was the Last Spike. He said that it was hard to tell which one it is because it wasn’t the busy tourist season yet. You see, the powers that be paint the Last Spike a golden colour every spring after the long winter. We were too early in the year for that.
There is also the history of Chinese railroad workers who came to build the railroad and send money home. Many lost their lives building the rails along the treacherous cliffs of the BC mountains. So naturally, almost all Chinese-language bus tours that travel this stretch will stop here in Craigellachie.
Dusk was starting to set over the land and we were back on the bus to our first night in Revelstoke. Revelstoke is built along the shores of the Columbia River. It was a major hub for the railway in the early days. This was the last town on the way east before entering all the Monashee and Rocky Mountain passes. There is a great Railroad Museum in Revelstoke, but that wasn’t on our itinerary this trip. Thankfully, I had already visited the Railroad Museum back in 2012.
Funny enough, the Chinese name for Revelstoke sounds nothing like the English. It is actually known as “Grey Bear Village” in Chinese. A grey bear is apparently a grizzly bear. When I first heard the Chinese name on the itinerary, I was confused. I didn’t know any place by that name. It turns out it was Revelstoke. Apparently, the Chinese railroad workers in the day named Revelstoke “Grey Bear Village” because of all the grizzly bears spotted in and around Revelstoke. Even now, there are two pillars that mark the entrance into town that have two giant grizzly bears sculpted into them.
We shacked up that evening at the Sandman Inn just off the Trans-Canada Highway. The next day, we would be climbing up through the Rocky Mountains on our way to Banff.