On January 9th, 1965, the largest landslide in Canadian history, at the time, occurred right here in British Columbia, in what will forever be known as “The Hope Slide.”
It happened around 7:00 am, in the Nicolum Valley area of the Cascade Mountains near Hope, British Columbia.
According to various sources, a small avalanche had occurred in the area, down the slope of Johnson Peak, before sunrise. The snow and rock from the avalanche formed a pile rubble on the Hope-Princeton Highway that went as high as 85 metres, trapping four drivers.
While they were waiting for crews to arrive on the scene to begin clearing the roads, a second, much larger, slide occurred, this time mostly consisting of rock and mud.
All four people (Thomas Starchuk, Bernie Lloyd Beck, Dennis George Arlitt, Mary Kalmakoff) were killed, and the bodies of the latter two were never found.
An estimated 47 million cubic metres of rock and mud fell that day, in what became the largest landslide in Canadian history at the time. (The Mount Meager landslide, which also occurred here in B.C., claimed the top spot in 2010.)
The slide completely displaced Outram Lake, and wiped out trees and other vegetation in the vicinity.
About a 3.5 km segment of the Crowsnest Highway was destroyed, a vital link between Metro Vancouver and the B.C. interior.
Less than two weeks after the landslide, however, a temporary road was opened to re-connect the two regions. That temporary road has since been abandoned, but with significant portions of the rocks and debris still visible from the road, it remains a living monument to the Hope Slide.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our two-part series on the Great Vancouver Fire. Part 1 focuses on how the fire destroyed the city, while Part 2 details how Vancouver rose from the ashes. Or: take a look back at the 1996 “snowstorm of the century.”