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Lower Mainland
Fraser Canyon

Spences Bridge

Spences Bridge (credit: Vancouver Public Library #1027) Spences Bridge (credit: Vancouver Public Library #1027)

Spences Bridge is situated 23 miles north east of Lytton and 32 miles from Ashcroft. In 1892 the population included 32 whites and 130 Indians. There were 5 general stores, 3 hotels, one Indian Church of England and one school. Principal industries are fruit growing and farming.

The climate is very dry, with an average annual rainfall of 40-50cm. Thompson and Nicola River Indians had lived in the region for thousands of years, hunting deer and fishing for Salmon. Prior to the Goldrush, Mortimer Cook, an American, and his partner Charles Kimball, had been freighters for the Hudson's Bay Company. With the sudden influx of prospectors on their way to the goldfields Cook and Kimball built a rope ferry across the Thompson River, and the area became known as Cook's Ferry. By 1864 the ferry had been replaced with a bridge, built by road contractor Thomas Spence.

1905 slide at Spences Bridge (credit: BC Archives #A-06643) In 1905 a slide blocked the river and caused serious flooding at Spences Bridge (credit: BC Archives #A-06643)

In 1905 a terrible tragedy occurred just below Spence's Bridge, when a large slide came down, buried an Indian village, dammed the river for four hours, and washed the bridge out. Today the area is mostly a wasteland of sagebrush, with some cultivated fields where irrigation allows.

Today the permanent population of Spences Bridge is 138. Both the Trans Canada Highway and the CPR railway pass through the community. Agriculture is a major industry and produce of soft fruits and vegetables are sold in stalls beside the Highway. (Encyclopedia of B.C. p.671)

Pioneers of Spences Bridge

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All text and images © Quesnel & District Museum and Archives unless otherwise noted. Thanks to the B.C. Archives for permission to show various images. Thanks to the BC Encyclopedia for permission to quote information on the roadhouse communities. Thanks to the Living Landscapes Project, the Royal British Columbia Museum, Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services for their support of site development.