Thursday, January 09, 2014

Those Places Thursday: The Hope Slide, 49 years ago

The Hope Slide near Hope BC Canada
“The Hope slide, near Hope, British Columbia. Image by Fawcett5, August, 2005.”
(Image in public domain, 

In the early morning of 9 January 1965, a small avalanche occurred in the Nicolum Valley, near Hope, in southwestern British Columbia. Three vehicles travelling on this stretch of Highway 3 (known locally as the Hope-Princeton Highway) came upon the debris, preventing them from going further. While they waited on the road, a second, deadly slide struck when a massive amount of rock came down Johnson Peak, destroying its southwestern face.

It was the “largest landslide ever recorded in Canada […] estimated at 47 million cubic metres […] of pulverized rock, mud, and debris 85 metres (279 ft) deep and 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) wide, which came down the 2,000-metre (6,600 ft) mountainside”. [1]

Four people – the waiting travellers – were killed in their cars and trucks. Rescuers recovered two bodies; the other two “have remained entombed under the rock since 1965”. [2]

My parents and my sister and I must have seen the Slide when we drove through BC during our summer vacation in 1966, but I don’t remember it. The next time I saw the devastation was in May 1980, a few months after my family moved to Hope.

A video of what the area looks like today is available at Hope Slide.

Here are some pictures I took during my 1980 visit to the Hope Slide. I’ve been back to the site a few times since that year. The landscape hasn’t really changed; it’s still quiet, bleak and desolate-looking.

The Hope Slide 1980
The valley floor, looking east (1980)

The Hope Slide 1980
Information board explaining the events of that fateful day (1980)

The Hope Slide 1980
Looking east, with my brother in the centre pointing to the mountain (1980)

The Hope Slide 1980
A northeast view, with my father and his friend Paul (1980)


1. Wikipedia contributors, "Hope Slide," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ( : accessed January 8, 2014).

2. Wikipedia contributors, "Hope Slide," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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