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Lower Mainland
Fraser Canyon

Soda Creek

Soda Creek (credit: BC Archives #A-03908) Soda Creek with the two hotels visible and the "SS Enterprise" docked. (credit: BC Archives #A-03908)

A small bench of land at the mouth of Soda Creek and ten miles north of Williams Lake became the terminus of the first sternwheeler steamboat in the upper Fraser River, launched in the spring of 1863. As the road contractor Gustavus B. Wright was negotiating the contract to build the Wagon Road from Clinton to Alexandria in 1862, he was also arranging with his associates for the building of the sternwheeler steamer. With the launching of the SS "Enterprise" the government placed a land reserve on Soda Creek.

Robert McLeese (credit: BC Archives #ZZ-95263) Robert McLeese, owner of the Colonial Hotel in Soda Creek (credit: BC Archives #ZZ-95263. This only links to a text record in BC Archives)

Almost at once land lots were sold. Robert McLeese, Joseph T.Senay, Robert A. Collins, Peter Dunlevy, Henry Yeates, and George Hendricks, were some, who built hotels, stores, blacksmith shops and saloons on the site.

Peter Dunlevy (credit: BC Archives #A-01383) Peter Dunlevy, owner of the Exchange Hotel in Soda Creek and one of the contenders for being the first to find gold in the Cariboo district. (credit: BC Archives #A-01383)

As the wagon road came to an end in 1863, travelers on their way to the goldfields, by foot, horseback, or wagon, all took the steamer to Quesnelle Mouth. The wagon road was not completed to Quesnel until 1865.

Soda Creek (credit: Vancouver Public Library #8641) Soda Creek looking north about 1930 (credit: Vancouver Public Library #8641)

Following the initial stampede to the Cariboo Goldrush in the early 1860's, Soda Creek enjoyed a 2nd boom in 1910, with the anticipated arrival to Fort George of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad from eastern Canada. At this time Soda Creek became the site of the building of several steam sternwheeler boats that plied the Fraser River to Fort George. By 1914, and the commencement of the First World War, Soda Creek, once again, sank into oblivion.

William Lyne Jr. (credit: Lyne Family collection) William Lyne Jr. a pioneer carpenter, builder and sawmill operator in the Soda Creek area with his wife Angelique Dussault and family on their ranch 9 miles south of Soda Creek (credit: Lyne Family collection)

Today Soda Creek, located 33km north of Williams Lake and beside the Fraser River is a rural subdivision owned mostly by residents who work in Williams Lake or nearby McLeese Lake.

Just north of Soda Creek is Xats'ull, a replica of a Shuswap Indian village that is open for visitors during the summer. (Encyclopedia of B.C.p.665)

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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.