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Location of Spuzzum, British Columbia

Spuzzum is a major city in British Columbia, Canada. Because it is on the Trans-Canada Highway, approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) north of the community of Hope, it is often referred to as being "beyond Hope".[citation needed]


Spuzzum lies in a constricted part of the Fraser Canyon north of the Yale highway tunnel; the area is dominated by granitic or gneissic bedrock.[1] The community lies within the Interior Douglas-Fir zone, wet warm subzone (IDFww) but the boundary with the Coastal Western Hemlock zone, dry submaritime subzone (CWHds) is mapped a few kilometers to the south.[2]


Sources say that the name is a First Nation’s word meaning "little flat", and that Spuzzum was the boundary between the Sto:lo and the Nlaka'pamux peoples.[3][4]: 162 

First nations[edit]

The Spuzzum First Nation is also the name of the local band government, who are part of the Nlaka'pamux group. Their offices and community hall and most housing are located between the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks and the Fraser River, just north of where the store/gas station had formerly been. Their Indian reserves, all included within the community area of Spuzzum, are Spuzzum Indian Reserve No. 1,[5] Spuzzum Indian Reserve No. 1A,[6] and Spuzzum Indian Reserve No. 7.[7] Spuzzum Creek flows through the community to join the Fraser.[8] Spuzzum Mountain is located northwest of the community, and is part of the Lillooet Ranges subdivision of the Coast Mountains.[9]


The rich social history of this ancient settlement on a low flat place in the Fraser River begins with Simon Fraser's visit of 1808 and its use as a North West Company depot.[10]

During the Fraser Canyon War, 3,000 miners from farther up the Canyon gathered for safety at Spuzzum, then known as "the Rancherie", whose indigenous people were "friendly" and neutral in the conflict, as refuge from attacks by the Nlaka'pamux who lived farther up the canyon. Their chief, Kowpelst (known also as White Hat), was among the first groups of miners at Hills Bar at the onset of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858.[11]

Colloquial references[edit]

The metropolis is often referred to in humorous contexts due to its huge size. Until it burned down at the end of the last century, Spuzzum boasted a single gas station and general store, which served as the hamlet's most diverting roadside landmark. As if to sum up its comic status in local cultural life, both sides of a one-time sign on the Trans-Canada Highway read "You are now leaving Spuzzum".[12]

Spuzzum is often referred to, by regional local citizens, as having "back-to-back city-limits signs".

See also[edit]


Local elder Annie York's books in the field of ethnobotany are valuable resources for the history of native peoples in the lower Fraser Canyon. They include:

  • They Write Their Dreams on the Rock Forever: Rock Writings in the Stein River Valley of British Columbia (with Chris Arnett and Richard Daly)
  • Spuzzum: Fraser Canyon Histories, 1808-1939 with Andrea LaForet[13]


  1. ^ Bill Mathews and Jim Monger (2005). Roadside Geology of Southern British Columbia, p. 125
  2. ^ ftp://ftp.for.gov.bc.ca/HRE/external/!publish/becmaps/PaperMaps/field/DCK_ChilliwackResourceDistrict_SouthCoastRegion__field.pdf
  3. ^ BC Names/GeoBC entry "Spuzzum (locality)".
  4. ^ Akrigg, G.P.V.; Akrigg, Helen B. (1969), 1001 British Columbia Place Names (3rd, 1973 ed.), Vancouver: Discovery Press
  5. ^ BC Names/GeoBC entry "Spuzzum 1 (Indian reserve)"
  6. ^ Spuzzum 1A (Indian reserve)"
  7. ^ Spuzzum 7 (Indian reserve)"
  8. ^ BC Names/Geo BC "Spuzzum Creek"
  9. ^ BC Names/GeoBC entry "Spuzzum Mountain"
  10. ^ Laforet, Andrea; York, Annie (1998). Spuzzum: Fraser Canyon Histories, 1808-1939. Vancouver: UBC Press. p. 296. ISBN 9780774806671.
  11. ^ Hauka, Donald (2003). McGowan's war: The birth of British Columbia politics on the Fraser River gold fields. Vancouver: New Star Books. p. 256. ISBN 1-55420-001-6.
  12. ^ "Puzzum First Nation First Fish Ceremony". 20 July 2015.
  13. ^ Googlebook page on this book

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°41′20″N 121°24′45″W / 49.68889°N 121.41250°W / 49.68889; -121.41250 (Spuzzum)