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Exploration and Surveying in Northern BC

Northern BC Archives has extensive collections on northern expeditions and surveys from 1907 to the 1930s.

A Brief History of Hunting, Guiding & Outfitting in Northern BC

By the mid-19th century, British Columbia had become well known internationally with hunting enthusiasts as a prime location for big game. In order to meet the demand for providing wealthy visiting hunters quality big game hunts, local BC hunters started guiding services. Guiding licences were first issued in 1913 and guiding territories were established in the late 1940s. In 1961, legislation provided guide outfitters with the exclusive rights to guide non-resident big game hunters in a specific area. This exclusivity of the guide outfitter certificate became the foundation of the guide outfitting industry in BC. (Source)

Northern BC Archives Holdings: Hunting, Guiding & Outfitting

Northern BC Archives holds records relating to the hunting, guiding, and outfitting activities of: Prentiss Gray, John M. Holzworth, Al Elsey, and Roy & Marge McDougall.

Prentiss Gray

2000.19.1.55 - Prentiss Gray standing with rifle in hand in front of a teepeePrentiss Nathaniel Gray, (1884-1935) of Oakland California, was the archetypical model of a heroic hunter of big game. After receiving accreditation for outstanding military service during WWI, he embarked upon a highly successful career as an international banker for J. Henry Shroder Banking Corporation. In exchange for securing the bank’s first $100,000 profit, Gray was granted unlimited vacation time which he effectively used to travel the world in search of big game. This thirst for adventure was combined with Gray’s penchant for documenting his expeditions in writings, illustrations, and photographs, which ultimately were the basis for two Boone and Crockett Club publications, one of which entitled From the Peace to the Fraser: Newly Discovered North American Hunting and Exploration Journals, 1900 to 1930 document his expeditions in Alberta (1926) and BC (1927 & 1928). During Gray’s 1928 big game expedition to the Barbara Lakes in B.C., he was accompanied by H.G. Dimsdale, an Edmonton civil engineer; together they undertook a feasibility assessment for a railroad route along the BCAlberta border. Gray also developed the official measurement and scoring system for trophy animals and served as the first editor of the Boone and Crockett Club’s Records of North American Big Game.


2000.19.1.1 - Campsite in a snowy forest

Collection consists of 760+ images in 3 photo albums depicting Gray's travels throughout Northern BC and Alberta and 6 computer discs consisting of digital copies of these photographs. Also includes a videotape copy of Prentiss Gray’s 1927 expedition; digital copies of Gray's maps; and a digital copy of Frederick Vreeland's photos/maps.

2000.19.1.1 - Campsite in a snowy forest


The Boone and Crockett Club Collection consists of the records of the Boone and Crockett Club which was founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell and remains active today. Since its inception the Club has championed conservation causes and legislation, hunter ethics, and North American big game records keeping. Includes 125.5 linear feet of records from 1888 to 2009.


Northern BC Archives has acquired digital copies from the Mansfield Library from the Boone & Crockett Club Collection, including correspondence, a publication by Prentiss Gray, news clippings regarding Prentiss Gray’s expeditions and textual items related to Prentiss Gray’s death. Consult an archivist regarding Accession #2013.19. 

Cover ArtFrom the Peace to the Fraser: newly discovered North American hunting and exploration journals, 1900 to 1930 by Prentiss N. Gray; Theodore J. Holsten (Editor); Susan C. Reneau (Editor) 

Call Number: FC3205.3 .G688 1994
ISBN: 0940864215
Publication Date: 1994


Other artifacts and books relating to Prentiss Gray and the Boone and Crockett club can be found at the Sagamore Hill, National Historic Site.

John M. Holzworth

John M. HolzworthJohn M. Holzworth was a lawyer, outdoor writer, hunter, conservationist, lecturer, and explorer. In 1919, he began a series of expeditions for the U.S. Biological Survey and the Smithsonian (then known as the U.S. National Museum), collecting specimens of large game mammals for study. His 1923 expedition ventured to Northeastern British Columbia, which resulted in a report to the U.S. Biological Survey. He also published a number of books, including "The Wild Grizzlies of Alaska" (1930). A brochure containing his full biography is available by clicking the image at left.

Title page of field reportWith the assistance of an anonymous donor, the Northern BC Archives funded the digitization a 1923 report by John M. Holzworth and has made it available online with the permission of the Smithsonian Archives.

The John H. Holzworth Field Report, 1923 is entitled "Report on Trip Taken in August, September and October 1923 by John M. Holzworth in Northeastern British Columbia in the Interests of the United States Biological Survey on the Subject of Mountain Sheep and Caribou Distribution."

Data includes detailed descriptions of the specimens caught, land and water transportation routes taken in the Peace River region, weather observations, and commentary on communities and peoples encountered during the expedition to hunt and collect bighorn sheep and caribou specimens in the area. Also provides documentation of the Beaver First Nation camps and images of early 20th century homesteaders near present day Tumbler Ridge.

Al Elsey

Al ElseyAl Elsey arrived in the Bella Coola region in 1951. An avid fisherman and hunter, he was drawn to the excitement of the teaming wildlife and the fierceness of the steelhead. Elsey guided clients to the now famous Dean River to fish for steelhead salmon. He acquired a Bolex camera in the early 1960s and began filming around the Bella Coola, Dean River and Chilcotin regions with his guiding outfit.

Roy & Marge McDougall

Roy McDougall (1889-1984) grew up an experienced horseman and as a teenager worked as a Groomsman. Roy travelled to BCs north in the 1920s and started trapping in the Peace Country. He took over the Finlay Forks Trading post and eventually he and his spouse purchased it, running the post until 1964. Roy held several positions at the trading post: as radio dispatch person, weatherman, coroner, and sawmill operator. Martha Margaret (Johnston) McDougall, known as Marge or Granny Boots (1900-1980) was a professional seamstress and owned a dress shop in Prince George in the 1930s, before moving to Finlay Forks. She was Postmistress at the Findlay Forks Post until 1958. Marge began painting in Finlay Forks, sketching people when they came in to the post with their furs. Marge felt compelled to paint the local native people, and as the pending building of the Bennett dam loomed it became a mission to her, to document visually the people of the area and their stories. Marge and Roy were very well known for their hospitality they showed locals, trappers and adventure seekers to the region. Many books written about the Peace country make mention of the McDougall’s including works by Gerry Andrews, Roy Patterson, Bruce Lamb, Ed Strandburg, Mort Tier, journalist Pierre Burton and newspaper woman, Ma Murray.


The Roy and Marge McDougall fonds consists of diaries and journal writings by Marge McDougall; photographs; ledgers related to Findlay Forks Post; and maps of Northern BC. Contact archivist for access.


Includes an oral history interview with Roy and Marge McDougall conducted by Helen Mustard. Link:;rad

The following research resources are available at other heritage institutions:

George and Georgiana Ball

The Ball family ran the Diamond B Guest Ranch at Telegraph Creek, B.C. George and Georgiana were also involved in mining and business activities (including hunting and guiding). George Ball also operated as a fur trapper.

BALL FAMILY – MS-2185; MS-2230; T4238; F1985:15; 98602-10

The Ball Family fonds consists of correspondence, clippings, articles and photographs relating to big game hunting in the Cassiar District, principally created by George and Georgiana between 1920 and 1981. Fonds includes home movies of Ball family activities and oral family histories. Includes: 260 photographs, 2 film reels, 3 sound tape reels, and 18 sound cassettes. 


The George Ball fonds consists of account books, mining receipts and fur trade licenses as well as correspondence inward from 1927-1939.

Fred Brewster

Frederick Archibald Brewster (1883-1969) was an outfitter and guide at Jasper, Alberta, Canada. Brewster was born in Kildonan, Manitoba and in 1888 moved with his family to Banff, where he received his education. He subsequently attended St. John's College, Winnipeg, Manitoba and Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, obtaining a B.Sc. in Mining Engineering. Brewster worked briefly as a prospector and in 1910 embarked upon a long career as an outfitter and guide, first with Brewster and Moore. S. Prescott Fay, Robert Cross and Fred Brewster conducted a formal exploratory and surveying expedition of Tumbler Ridge in 1914. Brewster would continue on to do work in Banff and Jasper national parks.


The Fred Brewster fonds contains personal papers from 1897 to 1967 pertaining to family, education, military service, etc. Also includes professional and business papers from 1908 to 1957 regarding the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. of Canada, private mining ventures, Brewster and Moore outfitting, Brewster Transfer Co., and Brewster Trading Co., Samuel Prescott Fay, Lovat Scouts, Jasper, etc. Includes scrapbook titled "Mt. Sir Alexander," 1912-1967, attributed to Fred Brewster, consisting of clippings, articles and maps re the discovery, naming, ascents, etc. of Mount Sir Alexander, also text of speech delivered by Brewster at the opening of the Banff-Jasper Highway. Also includes Samuel Prescott Fay journal from 1914 hunting trip, photocopy. Additionally, includes news clippings and magazines, 1930-1969; a book entitled "Lord of the Lakes and Forest" by Augustus Moore; and photographs, ca.1887-ca.1967, pertaining to Fred Brewster outfitting operations, associates, clients, camps, lodges and facilities, Brewster family and friends, and Fred Brewster college and university associates. Records for Brewster also exist at Library and Archives Canada and Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives, but they appear to relate largely to his work with Jasper National Park.



The Fred Brewster fonds, dated 1824-1985, consists of correspondence and topical files (originals and copies), as well as blueprints, brochures, newspaper clippings, magazines and copies of articles relevant to Fred, the Brewster family, the Jasper area, the Jasper-Yellowhead Historical Society, skiing, trail riding, hunting and guiding and other subjects relevant to the history of Jasper. There are field and notebooks from university days and WWI as well as from various expeditions, pamphlets, photographs, maps and a number of books and artifacts. Also included in the fonds are photographs of the Brewster family and home; the Brewster stable and some of the cowboys and guests; and the Jasper rodeo.


Eric Collier

Eric Collier (1903 - 1966) was a trapper and conservationist in Northern BC. He reintroduced beavers and other wildlife back to the area west of the Fraser River in Canada. Collier told his story in a book published in New York in 1959, Three Against the Wilderness.

LILLIAN COLLIER INTERVIEWS – T0366:0001 – 0002 Part of the Imbert Orchard Collection.

Summary of recording: Mrs. Collier tells the story of the meeting her husband, the writer Eric Collier. She offers details about the operation of Becher House, social life there, how she was married there in 1928, Eric Collier's literary ambitions, how the Collier's started guiding in 1938, and the story of how Eric Collier came to write "Three Against The Wilderness". Mrs. Collier offers details about the publishing of "Three Against The Wilderness" and outlines part of the story. She discusses Eric Collier's childhood and youth, Eric Collier as a writer, her own role in Eric's writing, more on Mr. Collier as a writer and a person, and the Collier family 11 in the 1950s. Mrs. Collier continues with more discussion of the book, reviews and reactions to the book, Eric Collier's ill health in the 1950s, a discussion of the book's title, translations of the book into Spanish, German, French and Polish, editions of the book and the consequences of being well-known. Credits: Speaker: Lillian Collier; interviewer: Imbert Orchard; sound recording: Ian Stephen.


Cliff Duke

Cliff Duke was a hunting guide. He worked with Fred Brewster in the 1920s.


Part of the Kreg D. Skye fonds. Summary of recording: Came west for harvesting in 1923. Timekeeping for Fred Brewster operation in Jasper, 1923 to 1927. Operated dairy in Jasper, 1927-28. Homesteading near Beaverlodge, 1929-1940. Monkman Pass (highway) work. Fred Brewster's operation: building Jasper golf course with 52 teams of horses, relocating CNR round house, tourist chalets and tours, "Pocahontas" (Miette) hot springs. Daily charges for hunting and dude trips. George and Jack Brewster. The Neighbors. Otto brothers. Jack Hargreaves. First Jasper winter carnival in 1924: setting ski trail with Pete Withers, ski race, costume contest. Railroad surveys in Monkman Pass area. Kelly Sunderman. Monkman Pass highway trail work. Henry Hobic, trapper. Alex Monkman, early trader, and origin of pass name. Monkman expedition: organization, work logistics, route description. Trapping area. Pack for Gulf Oil surveys, late 1940s. Onion Lake fossils. Gas seep. Volcano (sinkhole) near Jarvis Lakes. Description of Kakwa Lake area. Some cold sulphur springs. 1932 prospecting trip. Carl Brooks died in a plane crash at Kakwa Lake in 1945. Tom Wilde. Met Hersh Neighbor during his pack move (1954) from Tete Jaune Cache. Credits: Speaker: Cliff Duke; interviewer: Kreg O. Sky. Link:

Clifford Eagle

Clifford Eagle was a guide in the Lac La Hache and Crooked Lake area.


Part of the Kreg D. Skye fonds. Summary of recording: Childhood spent around Dog Creek, Alkali Lake, and 150 Mile House. Made money "chasing" coyotes with horses. Ranched and trapped in the Lac La Hache area. Noted for 14 "man-hunting" skills. Details of tracking for lost and dead men. Guided for Ted Ogden and Percy Hamilton. His two guiding areas were Lac La Hache and Crooked Lake. Advertising. Cougar dogs. Moose populations. "Reading bear" story. Good cooking an important aspect. Operational aspects. Used Indian guides. Wolves and [bounty?]. Other outfitters: Buster Hamilton, Herbie McNeil. Ceased guiding in 1969 or 1970. Credits: Speaker: Clifford B. Eagle; interviewer: Kreg O. Sky.


Samuel Prescott Fay

Samuel Prescott Fay (1884-1971) was a Harvard graduate and sport hunter from Boston who travelled twelve hundred kilometers through the northern Rockies from Jasper to Hudson’s Hope. He travelled with Fred Brewster, a popular packer in the region, and took the first photographs of Kinuseo Falls, which he also named. 


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Reports collection consists of reports, notes, and biological data submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of Interior and its predecessor, the Bureau of Biological Survey of the Department of Agriculture, by naturalists conducting field research throughout the greater part of the Western Hemisphere. Folder 29, Box 117. Fay, S. Prescott. Expedition Between Yellowhead Pass and Peace River, 1914. Includes photographs.




Consists of a journal of a 1914 expedition hunting sheep and other big game between the Yellowhead Pass and the Peace River; Fay Islands exhibit; Photographs and letters on the discovery and naming of the Fay Islands by Vilhjalmur Stefansson.

A book, partially written by Fay, is held in Special Collections, UNBC Geoffrey R. Weller Library, entitled “The Forgotten Explorer: Samuel Prescott Fay’s 1914 Expedition to the Northern Rockies” (Rocky Mountain Books, 2010). Call number: FC219 .F39 2009

Hargreaves Family

The Hargreaves family came to Jasper in 1913 and built a homestead and guest ranch at Mount Robson. All five brothers guided and outfitted in the area.


Part of the Kreg D. Skye fonds. Summary of recording: TRACK 1: Hargreaves family came to Jasper in 1913. Homestead and guest ranch at Mount Robson. 1923 built and operation CNR cabins at Berg Lake. Ray Hargreaves built the chalet later. All five brothers guided and outfitted. Some guides and packers: Art and Ken Allen, Harvey Crate, Dean Swift, Ted Shive, Stan Carr, Chuck Chesser, Don and Dave McMurtry. Trap lines. Ray Hargreaves and Chuck Chesser partnership, 1931. Other workers; Bud Traver, Les Templeman, Bill Blackman, George Korsvik. George Hargreaves death in 1936. Work record stone sheep (Chadwick Ram). Graves in the wilderness. Big name hunters mentioned. Isaac Plante, Deome Findlay. Joachim family. Eddie Moberly. TRACK 2: Eddie Moberly (continued). Murray Cochrane's involvement from 1934. Describing Roy Hargreaves. Boating down Upper Smoky River. Hargreaves' daughter's involvement. Old geographic names in region. Horse fords on Smokey River. Geological Surveys. Credits: Speaker: Ishbel Cochrane; speaker: Murray Cochrane; speaker: Buster Duncan; speaker: Margie Duncan; interviewer: Kreg O. Sky.


George Korsvik

George Korsvik came to Canada from Norway in 1927 and trapped and guided out of Valemount from 1929 to 1936. 


Part of the Kreg D. Skye fonds. Summary of recording: Came to Canada from Norway in 1927. Trapped and guided out of Valemount from 1929 to 1936. Trap line with Ollie Lebeck, Wood River/Athabasca Pass. Historic Athabasca Trail. Oswald Svendsen. Fortress Lake, 1930. Darryl Zanuck hunting trip on Canoe and Columbia Rivers in 1932 or 1933. Ed Garrett, river guide. Hunters' death. Hunters' names. Guides Art Allen, Chuck Chesser, Oliver Travers, and Ted Abrams, cooks, Eric Swanson. Berg Lake dude rides. Hargreaves brothers. Stan Carr and Mount Robson area. Topographic surveys, Kinbasket Lake/Canoe River 1936. Frank Swannell. Survey work on Vancouver Island and in the Rockies in 1939. Canadian Army. Relocation to Valemount. Hunting by boat in Canoe River area. Road along Canoe River. Trapping and guiding logistics. Al Huble. Curly Phillip's river boat. Canoe River hot springs. Credits: Speaker: George E. Korsvik; interviewer: Kreg O. Sky.


Freeman "Friday" Lonsdale

Freeman Lonsdale was a guide in Northern BC between the 1920s-1940s.


Part of the Kreg D. Skye fonds. Summary of recording: Burial of George Hargreaves on Sheep Creek. Description of area and trails near Sheep Pass. Used Alberta guides from Grand Cache. Eating porcupine. Guided for Jim Smith out of Snowshoe (Crescent Spur), 1926. Put in original trail up Morkill River. Trip to Jarvis Lakes via McGregor River. Fossils. Accident curtailed guiding in 1940. Jimmy Smith killed by horse in 19444. Homesteaded in 1924. Indian drying racks. Caribou populations and decline. Came along Continental Divide. Grizzly stalked him. First camp and features on Morkill River and Forget-Me-Not Creek. Mustards worked out of McBride. Hookers from Dome Creek. Account of sixty-five day collecting trip for Peabody Museum, 1931. Specimens, people, taxidermist, areas, 52 horses. Fishing at Kakwa (Porcupine) Falls. Usually at lunch in the saddle. A grizzly prank. Duration of most trips. Almost snowbound on the Divide. Plane wreck at Kakwa Lake. A 32 year old reunion in the wilderness with Archie Clark. Camp equipment and organization described. Handling the horses. Clients and costs. Working on GTP Railway in 1911. Floated upper Fraser River on a scow in 1912 en route to Vancouver. Took stage from Soda Creek. Credits: Speaker: Freeman Lonsdale; interviewer: Kreg O. Sky.


Eugene Merrill

Eugene Merrill was a guide and trapper in the Peace River area in the 1930s and 1940s.

Peck Family

Vic Peck arrived in the Peace River country in 1912, farmed in the Rolla area near Dawson Creek, married Kathleen, an English trained nurse in 1916. The next 8 years found them located on a wilderness trap line near present day Tumbler Ridge, where four boys including Don were born and raised. Education needs of the young family prompted a move to Hudson’s Hope in 1924. For the next 30+ years, Vic Peck ran a trap line on the Gething and Carbon tributaries to the Peace River west of Hudson’s Hope, and in the summer ran ferry and river boat services out of Hudson’s Hope. Don Peck and his brothers followed their father to the trap line, and Don later set up guide outfitting and became involved in ranching and rodeo vocations. Don Peck built up a lodge and guide outfitting business at Trutch, Mile 200 of the Alaska Highway. In 1963 the family moved to Fort St John, and over the next few years purchased a number of farmland parcels from the original homesteaders located between Tea and Wilder Creeks (aka Deep Creek) along the north banks of the Peace River, southwest of Fort St John. This farm land served as a base for a grain and livestock operation for the family company, Don Peck Holdings for the next 40+ years. By 1980 the farm along the Peace River consisted of 1280 acres of deeded land, close to a 1000 acres of adjacent leased and permitted grazing land, 500 rented adjoining acres, and a grazing permit on the south side of the Peace River encompassing several square miles, as well as a 100 acre home base near Fort St John. Information obtained from Ross Peck’s online submission to Site C Dam proposal. Ross Peck is a retired guide outfitter, self-employed rancher, land use and wildlife consultant, Associate of professional biologist of BC of Hudson’s Hope, B.C. and President of the Hudson’s Hope Historical Society (Hudson’s Hope Museum and Archives).

Leo Rutledge

Leo Rutledge was a guide and outfitter in the Northern Rockies between the 1920s and 1960s.

Macdonald "Mac" Squinas

Thomas A. Walker

Tommy Walker (1904-1989) was born in England and studied brewing and malting at a London brewery. In 1929 he emigrated to Canada, settling in Bella Coola Valley where he helped to build Shire Lodge. He became a professional guide and outfitter, owning saddle and pack horses. In 1948, he established a big game hunting outfit at Cold Fish Lake. In 1972 Walker retired to live in Smithers. Walker was instrumental in the establishment of Tweedsmuir Park and Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park.