Day 5 (July 4): Hazelton – Prince Rupert

I finally had a good night sleep 🙂

I spent a few hours in the morning planning my day and booking hotels in Alaska while enjoying couple of cups of coffee and the view of the mountains.

After that I spent some time preparing my bike for today and loading bags. Bill (the owner) joined me for a nice chat while I was adjusting the tire pressure. Half way through our chat we realized that I will be riding by his hotel in ten days on my way back from Alaska. Great opportunity to stay at the Robbers Roost Motel again and catch up with Linda and Bill.

There was a light rain when I left the motel.


The rain stopped within ten minutes and the rest of the day was a mixture of clouds and sun. My first stop was a little Indian village, Kitwanga (people of the place of rabbits) half hour from Hazelton. There was another nice collection of authentic totem poles.

But more surprising was an old Anglican Church in the middle of the village with the wooden tower dating from 1893.

On my way to Terrace I finally saw my first bear on this trip. It was a young black bear standing on his rear legs, eating berries and staring at me. I wasn’t quick enough to take a picture before it left.

The road and the scenery on my way to Terrace were great.

I drove through Terrace and detoured north for 15 min on one of the side roads to meet with Joe. Then I took a side road off the side road and then another side road and finally made it to Joe’s place. It took some effort to find him in the deep forest.


Joe Mandur is a native totem pole artist. Well, …., not exactly. His real background is Hungarian, German, Mongolian and Gypsy. But as a young child he was adopted by Haida & Cree family and they raised him in their culture and traditions. So Joe’s DNA is not native but his mind is.


Joe is carving a totem pole in honor of Freda Diesing. Freda was a highly accomplished and respected native Haida curver/artist. In 2002 she was presented with the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation award by then Governor General.
Joe is not just carving this pole alone. Every one of his visitors has to do a bit of work. Including me 🙂


He is hoping to get 4,444 people to contribute their work before the pole is finished. I was contributor 2,250 or so. This is a small model of what it is going to look like when it’s finished.


What you see on this picture is a work in progress. This Cedar log is 40 feet long, 5 feet wide on the bottom and 4 feet wide on the top.

In addition to carving Joe is making traditional native prints. When I asked him for the price of some of his prints, he said that he prefers to trade them, ideally for the tools. Occasionally, he needs some money too.

He has some other work going on as well.

While Joe and I were talking, another man showed up. He was visiting Joe for the first time. His name is Walter and he’s been teaching traditional carving for 25 years. In a few minutes the two of them started to talk with a passion using the trade language that I could not understand at all. Their passionate discussion soon turned into actual work on the totem pole. They were using different tools with the finesse and precision that made my “work” on the pole look like scars rather than an artistic contribution.


Here are some of the tools.

Soon Walter left and Joe and I finished our conversation while he was sitting in his favourite chair. I learned much more about Joe than what I am sharing in this blog but he was very specific on the parts that he didn’t want me to post. It wasn’t sensitive, but in his tradition it wasn’t the right thing to do. I respected his request.


I left Joe’s studio with one of his small prints.


The ride from Terrace towards Prince Rupert continued to offer phenomenal views of the mountains and the Skeena River. The Skeena along the way went through a number of M&As and became this massive river that reminded me of the Danube in Europe.

Just before Prince Rupert I decided to take a detour to Port Edward. The scenery became even more attractive.


And after riding for a while on a tiny road …


And hanging out with some wild life, … And finding yellow blackberries ?!?!?


I made it to the North Pacific Cannery – National Historic Site.


It was built in 1889 on Inverness Passage, part of Skeena delta to the Pacific Ocean, and use to run for almost 100 years.




I came late and they were not providing the tours any more but Leslie, the manager, was nice enough to give me a quick personal tour which was greatly appreciated.


Today was one of the shortest rides of this trip but with many stops. By the time I made it to Prince Rupert I was quite tired. I was pleasently surprised when I got into my hotel room. The room was very nice but the view was fantastic.



Tomorrow I am boarding the ferry and after two days I will be arriving to Haines, Alaska traveling through the Inside Passage. I am not sure what the WiFi situation is on the ferry, but you may not hear from me for couple of days.

Stay tuned!


2 thoughts on “Day 5 (July 4): Hazelton – Prince Rupert

  1. Zoran, great mini vignettes in your blog. I have been wondering how your BMW has been performing and how much you need to rely on it to perform as you travel so many lonely spots where it needs to keep you safe. The wilderness is a beautiful confluence of God’s creatures and you are but a privileged observer. Joe seemed like a man of purpose, knowledge and creativity. What a wonderful memory for you. This is the essence of travel and photography. As time moves on these memories will become richer in their meaning to you. I also note your willingness to reach out and acknowledge each of your special people you have met along the way. Somewhat like your Leadership in the workplace. Safe Travels in the Wifi silent zone.
    Peter B


  2. Hi Z, Just catching up on your blog after being in Montreal for a few days. What a great adventure so far! Love the pictures, the stories and the people you are meeting. Hope the 2 day ferry trip was smooth (bet the water can be rough). Look forward to your Alaskan posts. Janice


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