Hell's Gate

The water at Hell's Gate, BC
The rapids from the airtram. Photo by Gregory Melle, (flickr)

Hell’s Gate is a narrowing in the Fraser River, in British Columbia. The Fraser is a very large river, and by the time it reaches Hell’s Gate, a few hundred kilometers from its mouth, there is a lot of water flowing through the river, 200 million gallons per minute at high water. With all of this water flowing through the river, the Fraser Canyon narrows so that the river is only 110 feet, (35 meters), wide, creating an incredible whitewater attraction that is nearly impassable by water.

It was first discovered by Simon Fraser who wrote in his journal “surely this is the gate of hell” hence the name Hell’s Gate. Today you can ride an airtram out over Hell’s Gate and see the power of the water for yourself.


Alexandria Bridge in Spuzzum, BC
Photo by Janusz Leszczynski

I guy I know used to have a T-shirt that said “Where the heck is Spuzzum?” I think the lettering was done in brown velour. So, where is Spuzzum? What is Spuzzum? It is a small town in British Columbia, Canada, not far from the town of Hope.

So, what kind of a name is Spuzzum? Well, we’re not sure. We think that is’s a word in the language of one of the local First Nations, or at least a word in a very localized dialect of the language of one of the local First Nations. It either is a version of the word “spatsum,” which is the reed used to weave baskets in the area, or it means “little flat.”

Many years ago Spuzzum was a large-ish place. The railway goes through the town, and there used to be a ferry crossing the river there as well. Spuzzum is also on the Trans-Canada highway. Spuzzum is very small. I only drove through it once that I remember, sometime in the nineties. There was a sign saying that we were in Spuzzum, but I’m not sure if the gas station/general store/post office was still standing, (it burned down sometime in the nineties). The Spuzzum First Nation has its offices there, and there is a picturesque bridge there as well that appears to have once been part of the Trans-Canada, (now there’s a newer, larger, bridge).