Rosswood is a kind of ‘last frontier’ in British Columbia. The community of about 150 people is located 37 kilometres north of Terrace where Kalum Lake Road and the Nisga’a Highway meet. You have probably wondered ‘why do people even live out there?’ And you’d be right to be sceptical.
The tiny community was off the BC Hydro grid until 1999 and only received phone service in 2001. Even I, a young adult of the late Generation Y, remember the days without electricity and using the old radio phone.
Yet people do live out there; they even thrive out there. Rosswood has a long history dating back to when a young pioneer named Annie Ross ran a post office for the bustling community of 300 in 1909. The pioneer settlement was built on Kitsumkalum territory at the north end of our first stop: Kalum Lake.
1) The deep blue giant, Kalum Lake, used to provide the only access to Rosswood (by boat) until the first road to Rosswood was built in 1954.
Kalum Lake is now a boating attraction and, if you brave the cold water, you can even go swimming. There are three entrances to the lake. The first is a campground at the south end of the lake, just past Goat Creek, in the Kitsumkalum Provincial Park. The second, just north of Maroon Creek, boasts a large boat launch area called the Kalum Lake Recreation Site. The last entrance is just past Wesach Creek and provides walk-in access to the spawning channel. Come by during the summer months to see the channel absolutely full of spawning fish as well as the bald eagles and bears that come down to enjoy the feast.
2) Wesach Mountain (also called Goat Mountain) and Wesach Falls are the next stops.The entrance to Wesach Falls is located just before Wesach Creek. If you pull into the little parking space off the highway, to your left you will see the unmarked trail that leads you to the roaring falls.
To hike the mountain you can drive part way up on an old logging road (located just south of Douglas Creek) and then you can hike to the top. There is also an abundance of blueberries to keep you going on your way up.
3) Probably the most memorable landmark in Rosswood is the Peeing Tree. Originally called the ‘Magic Tree,’ some 40 years ago the tree was outfitted with a pipe connecting it to a neighbouring stream, which it then grew around. Don Parmenter, the creator of the tree, remembers thinking “it would be so much easier to collect water if we just put a pipe in that tree.” Since then, the tree has been a water collecting hotspot for Rosswood residents and, with the introduction of loggers into the area, the name slowly shifted towards the ‘peeing tree.’
It’s famous for its crystal clear drinking water that comes straight from the stream – “I haven’t tasted anything like it since,” said Parmenter. Make sure to bring water jugs to fill up.
4) When you stop at the Peeing Tree, look across the road to what used to be the Parmenter’s place and you’ll see the newest edition to Rosswood: the Rosswood Teepee.
This towering structure is actually a horse barn with five levels: the ground level is for horses, the second is for hay, the third is a tack room, the fourth will have solar panels on the east, south and west side, and the fifth is an observatory with sleeping quarters so you can sleep close to the stars.
Stan Brazeau, the fellow building it, is relatively new to Rosswood and says that he “is kinda replacing the barn [which is old and rotting] in a different style.”
Brazeau was inspired by his Cree roots in Northern Alberta and set out “to build the largest teepee in all of BC.” The retired logger has never built something like this before, but has created the structure, which is 48 feet across at the bottom, with only farm equipment and no help.
Also in the works is a wooden sculpture called the Rosswood Mosquito, so keep your eye out for that along the road.
5) Now, continue on until you pass Egan Road and take the next left down to the Rosswood Community Hall, ball-field, and campground. This hall was built through volunteer labour in the 1980s and recently had a new roof put on it, financed by Terrace lottery winner Bob Erb.
Every Saturday morning from May to mid-August there’s a pancake breakfast and garage sale. Plenty of folks from Terrace come out so just look for the sign guy, Walter, guiding you to the entrance. All money raised through the breakfast and garage sale goes toward new playground equipment for the community grounds.
6) Last, but not least, is the general store which is located right off the highway past the hall. The building was bought for $1.00 in 1983 by Wilf Geier. Wilf ran the store for many years and it has now passed down to an in-law in the Geier family, Clarke Hanna.
The general store boasts an unusual line-up. Along with basic snacks, the store provides gluten-free, vegan, and other natural food options not readily available elsewhere.
Clarke was inspired to bring in these new products on the request of Rosswood residents who have long placed orders together from whole foods suppliers.
Cecile Favron is The Terrace Standard’s 2015 news intern and a Rosswood resident.