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Canadian Rockies Bimble - Wells Gray Park

Goodwin Falls and fails to rise again

I`m blaming it on Chess Lyons. We are staying in Clearwater to visit Wells Gray Park. Famous for its waterfalls, there is the mighty Helmcken Falls 141 metres high, but also many other lesser falls including one namesake, the Goodwin Falls. I`m excited - well interested - what distant relative was this named after. A famous trapper, explorer, pioneer or prospector?

But, I get ahead of myself. We are pretending to be trailer trash for a couple of days. Living in a trailer in someone`s back yard. I lie, we are staying in a trailer, but it`s in the garden of the helpful Rowena, which happens to consist of two acres of forest. A notice on the wall of the trailer says it all - Deer, Bear and Cougar have passed through the yard from time to time...Do not leave food or garbage outside. Loud clapping or a yell will scare almost anything away-well I`ll tell you it's not easy spending the night clapping loudly, but we did our best.
Getting back to the disappointing Chess Lyons, I should explain that I had never heard of him until I picked up the book "Exploring Wells Gray Park" by Roland Neave. Packed full of interesting information the Chapter - Chess Lyons and the Goodwin Mystery - naturally caught my eye. Oh with what joy and anticipation I quickly thumbed to page 313. It started so well. In 1940 Chess Lyons had been assigned the task of exploring and mapping the newly designated Park. Yes, 1940, how can anywhere still be in need of exploring and mapping in 1940? I suppose that's the vastness of Canada`s wilderness for you, nobody had quite got around to those few 1.3 million acres of wilderness.

Apparently, he was summoned to the office of the Minister of Lands, Hon Arthur Wellesley Gray and given a list of names, consisting of friends and political allies of Gray and told to name features he discovered with their names. Lyons didn't agree with this, instead believing that features should be named after prominent explorers, pioneers and others who had helped to open the land. But orders were orders, or so Gray was foolish enough to think.

Lyons had more cunning ways to get round his orders. He astutely, began naming the features he came across. Indeed, every time he came across a swamp, he dutifully consulted Gray`s list and named it after one of his friends.

At this point my hopes are very high. Goodwin Falls, is not a swamp. Goodwin must have been an adventurer.

How cruelly hopes can be dashed. How I wish I hadn't turned the page. But I did and they were. In the 1970`s, Lyons,interviewed by Helen and Phillip Akrigg (BC`s names experts), admitted that he had no idea who Goodwin was. He was just a name on Gray`s list that he had used to put him off the scent of what he was really doing.

I know I should have stopped reading then and there, but I didn`t. I had to go on, and so did Helen and Phillip Akrigg. They were determined to find out who Goodwin was and after many years of work discovered the exciting truth that Goodwin was in fact, Walter Goodwin, a dentist from Spokane Washington. Not even, it turned out, a real dentist, but a dental mechanic, plate specialist, technician, pretending to be a dentist.

How cruel, what a fall.

However, despite my bitter disappointment, if you are passing this way, call and see Goodwin Falls, named after that famous dental technician from Spokane, or better still see the impressive Helmcken falls or the cauldron called the Kettle. I`m sure you won't be disappointed.

Posted by Mick G 17:22 Archived in Canada Tagged landscapes waterfalls lakes people motorcycle tourist_sites

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