Chilko Lake
Chilko Lake, original name “Tsilhqox Biny,” is the largest high-elevation freshwater lake in Canada at an elevation of 3,855 feet. It is located approximately 60 kilometers southeast of Tatla Lake and its entrance is located at the narrows of “Gwedats'ish.”1
This area was one of the main winter dwelling sites for the Tsilhqot'in -- first observed by HBC trader George McDougall in 1822. Many Tsilhqot'in would trap in and around the watersheds of the mountains by Chilko Lake, while also using this area for fishing and gathering.2 The fishery that was established by the Tsilhqot'in at this lake was officially recorded in 1827 by McGillivary in which he noted that the fishery was central to the Tsilhqot'in occupation of the area.3
In Tsilhqot'in tradition, they are taught about the migration of salmon from Vancouver to Henry's Crossing and finally to Chilko Lake. To the Indigenous Peoples of this region, and others, there is a tie to their resources -- just as the fish were native to the lake so are the Tsilhqot'in native to this area.4 Water is sacred and a resource that is more than for drinking but creates sustainability for the land and wildlife.5
Although Chilko Lake was a centre for the Tsilhqot'ins, this area was practically deserted by 1870 due to the continuous settler disruptions. Donald Mclean described the original occupants of this area as inclined to mischief which influenced settler attitudes towards Indigenous peoples.6 Today, Chilko Lake and its endangered wildlife are protected by the Ts'yl-os Provincial Park. The use of the lake as a hydro-electric source which has re-routed the flow of water marks another violence down to the natural environment as it has destroyed a large portion of the salmon spawning grounds.7
Mentions of this place in the documents
People in this document

McLean, Donald

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

Tatla Lake

Vancouver, British Columbia