Alexander Mackenzie was the first white man to view the western seas from the shores of northwestern North America, preceding the more widely known Lewis and Clark expedition by more than 12 years. Mackenzie and his party trekked overland from the Fraser River, across the Interior Plateau, through the Rainbow Mountains and down Burnt Bridge Creek. Where the creek enters the Bella Coola River, they rested at a community which was dubbed “Friendly Village” because of the hospitality of its Nuxalk inhabitants. These people guided Mackenzie and his men down the river into Dean Channel. A dispute between the Nuxalk and the coastal Heiltsuk people prevented them from reaching the open sea, but Mackenzie was satisfied that his mission was complete.
In his journals he wrote: “I now mixed up some vermilion in melted grease, and inscribed in large characters on the face of the rock on which we slept last night, this brief memorial; ‘Alexander Mackenzie from Canada, by land, the twenty-second of July, one thousand, seven hundred and ninety-three’”.
A prominent 40 foot cairn stands above the rock, and a plaque, erected in 1926 by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, is also located in the park. The cairn also marks the location of a historical fortified First Nations village, and petroglyphs can be found at the cobble beach.
Sir Alexander Mackenzie Provincial Park is recognized as a cultural heritage site. Long before Europeans discovered North America, First Nations peoples used a network of trails between the west coast and the interior of British Columbia for trade and travel. Because these trails were commonly used to transport eulachon (a small, smelt-like fish) grease, they are now referred to as “grease trails”. Hikers attempting the Alexander Mackenzie Heritage (Grease) Trail will complete their journey by travelling by boat to the park. The trail’s major appeal is the opportunity for long-distance wilderness travel along an historic route that follows the footsteps of First Nations peoples, Alexander Mackenzie, and other explorers.
Please note: It is an offence to damage historical sites or remove artifacts.
Marine resources have been under a lot of pressure over the last few years. Please observe fishing regulations closely, and consider taking less than your limit to ease your impact.
As you cruise through the waters near the park, watch for orcas, Pacific white-sided dolphins, harbour seals and other marine mammals. It is important you keep your distance from these creatures – never approach closer than 100 metres. Steer a steady, slow course and avoid cutting in front of them.
On shore, watch for Columbia black-tailed deer, mink, black bear and wolves.