Homfray Channel, at Foster Point
Desolation Sound, British Columbia at it's Best
Homfray Lodge is located in Homfray Channel named after Robert Homfray (1824-1902) a surveyor and engineer who was based in Victoria, British Columbia. Robert Homfray worked in the Colonial Survey office under J.D. Pemberton, before Alfred Waddington selected him to explore a potential route to the Cariboo gold fields.
On October 31, 1861, Homfray lead team including three Hudson Bay Company voyageurs, who led Waddington’s exploration of Bute Inlet and the Homathko River. After nine days, they reached the entrance to Bute Inlet. The mission ended abruptly, when the group was captured and held by local First Nations. Fortunately, they were rescued by a chief of the Klahoose people whose village was in Desolation Sound. Homfray convinced the chief to guide them through the Homathko River valley.
After the rescue, Homfray convinced the chief to guide the group through the Homathko River valley. The chief affirmed that a trail existed through the mountains. Robert Homfray told of one log jam, twenty feet high and half-a-mile long, stretching right across the river. They proceeded up the rapids, manhandling the canoe over slippery log-jams, often up to their waists in water. He could look up and see the blue ice of glaciers above the steep walls of the river. The chief turned back, advising Homfray to do the same. Then the weather turned bitterly cold and the ice froze on their clothes, their beards and hair. After almost losing their canoe when the tow rope broke, they decided to cache it, and proceeded on foot. Food supplies dwindled, and when Homfray encountered a new group, the Tsihqot’ins, he agreed to turn back in exchange for food.
The trip home was treacherous. Homfray’s canoe and supplies were lost in a logjam. The men salvaged enough tools to build a makeshift raft, which withstood the four-day journey to Bute Inlet. They were eventually rescued by the same Klahoose chief who brought them to his village. He later helped them return to Victoria. They had been away two months. After four months of exploration they returned to Victoria a dishevelled bunch, having lived through hell and back.
Homfray described the horrors and hardships to Waddington, who suggested these thoughts should remain unspoken in light of future business dealings. Homfray’s experience in Bute remained untold for three decades.