Lillooet was two hundred and fifty kilometres north of Vancouver. I drove by the beautiful Lillooet River and Lillooet Lake but still had another hour’s drive on to Duffey Lake before I reached the actual town. The Coastal Mountains near Lillooet were parched that summer. The town sat on the western bank of the Fraser River where the area had originally been inhabited by the St’at’imc Lil’wat Nation. But an influx of miners hungry for gold in the mid 1800s brought changes to the region. Still today, the town can boast a population that is fifty percent St’at’imac—a rare statistic for the province.
I turned left at a church to the Chinese rocks piled high above the town. While searching for gold, the Chinese miners had washed and stacked these rocks. Across from the Chinese rocks, was a barren skeleton of a tree ominously called the hanging tree.
During the Second World War, the town had two internment camps where Japanese citizens who had been uprooted from Vancouver were confined until the war ended.
Today, the town’s main source of income is hydroelectricity.