It was good to see The Terrace Standard’s acknowledgment of the 100th anniversary of the launching of the Usk ferry (Oct. 16, 2013) and to attend the unveiling of a plaque at the ferry landing by the Ministry of Transportation.
But equally deserving of recognition are the one hundred years of service by the men and women who operated the ferry.
The Skeena River is always treacherous with fast flood waters full of debris in the spring and fall, and in the winter, ice floes often jam in Kitselas Canyon and back up for miles, piling ice on the banks up to twenty feet deep.
The reaction ferry usually operated about seven summer months of the year, with a single ferry operator putting in twelve hour days, and often longer.
The winter months were arguably far more hazardous to the operators.
They made certain that passengers were able to cross safely, using their knowledge of the river, and plain hard work.
Before the present cable car system was installed, if the river was frozen over, those crossing the river would walk on the ice, which was checked by the ferryman who marked out a safe path.
When not frozen over, a small skiff was used to carry passengers.
Often passengers used a combination of planks on scaffolding, ice, and the skiff.
The operator set up and maintained this system, often during cold, dark and snowy conditions, and many can assure you, with howling winds along the river.
The skill and hard work of those people over the past hundred years deserve a mark of appreciation and recognition.
Bill and Helene McRae,