Disaster Strikes

by Annelise Kempling

BC’s diverse terrain and variable weather can be dangerous and cause significant disasters. BC also has a long history of human movement and immigration, which can expose populations to new and serious diseases. This playlist will highlight significant natural, health, and transportation disasters in BC history.

Avalanche Aftermath
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BC's coastal and interior mountains often receive significant amounts of snow. Sometimes a heavy and unstable snow pack in these mountains can lead to disastrous avalanches, like it did near Revelstoke in March of 1910.

The Hope Slide
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In 1965 the side of a mountain near Hope, BC, gave way and significantly altered the valley below. The Hope Slide, the largest landslide in Canadian history, claimed lives but it could have been much worse.

Smallpox in Victoria
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Disease and Terror 1862: the first public health crisis in BC. Thousands of people lost their lives within one year of the arrival and spread of Smallpox. Medical pioneers, researchers, and doctors did their best to inoculate BC residents with a proven vaccine , provide medical care, and try to stop the spread of the disease.

The Princess Sophia Wreck
The steamer Princess Sophia left Alaska, October 24, 1918 with over 350 passengers on board. When the ship struck a reef and became stuck other small ships in the area decided to wait to attempt rescue until a larger ship could assist or the tide rose. Unfortunately, a severe storm made rescue impossible and all aboard perished.

SS Valencia Wreck
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January 22, 1906 the SS Valencia was traveling from the San Francisco to Seattle and Victoria when heavy winds, fog, and a strong current caused it to veer off course. The ship struck a reef along the coast of Vancouver Island and the surrounding sea was too rough and too shallow for other ships to attempt rescue. 136 perished and only 37 survived.

Pachena Point Lighthouse
A few of the ship passengers who managed to escape the wreck of the SS Valencia made it to shore at this lighthouse along Vancouver Island's rugged and treacherous west coast.

Pachena Creek, West Coast Trail
The West Coast Trail, now popular with recreational hikers, began as The Dominion Lifesaving Trail in 1907 to make coastal rescue in case of shipwreck possible. Hikers enjoying this scenic trail today will see evidence of shipwrecks as they walk the beaches and pass over exposed reef.

Visiting a Shipwreck
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Pachena Point, 1944. People from the area surrounding the lighthouse gather to visit the wreck of the Russian frieghter "Uzbekistan". The "Graveyard of the Pacific" claimed the Uzbekistan when it ran aground in 1943 due to a navigational error. The ship was subsequently torn apart by storms and rough seas.