Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mount Cheam Local Legend

The most beautiful mountain in the eastern Fraser Valley is Mount Cheam. This posting will discuss Mount Cheam, its legend, directions to climb and how to sound like a local when you pronounce Cheam.

The last first, Cheam is pronounced locally like “Shea-am” say it any other way and you will be giving yourself away as a non-resident. Try to blend in.

Mount Cheam has an elevation of 6929 Feet or 2,112 meters and is part of the Cheam range a subset of the Cascade Mountain Range. Look up from exit 135 on the Trans Canada Highway (Bridal Falls) and all you are seeing is Cheam. On a good day you will see the brightly coloured chutes of Para gliders floating around her shoulders. On poor days, clouds clinging to her forests. Broken cloud patterns spill unexpected light into crevasses as they sweep across the sky. This mountain has a million moods nearly all of them beautiful.

A number of years ago I joined a group to climb the summit and take in the view. It was quite the journey a deeply rutted dirt road and then a fairly steep trail led to the top.  A more recent blog about the climb was written by John Harvey and has some great photographs. If you are in good health and have an appropriate vehicle it is a trip that I would recommend. Just remember to take plenty of water, good hiking boots and supplies for mishaps; directions to Mt.Cheam.

Legend : The First Nation legend is that Mount Cheam is the wife to a nearby and dormant volcano Mount Baker. Mount Baker is situated in Washington State, United States but can be seen by his wife in nearby Canada. The story I like comes from “Five Corners the Story of Chilliwack” by Bruce Ramsey as set down by Oliver Wells it says that they had three sons, Mount Hood, Mount Shasta and Mount Shuksan and three daughters who are younger than the boys.

Mt. Cheam to extreme left and Mt. Baker to right

Cheam got tired of being away from her people and left so that she could look after the Sto: Lo people “I ‘ll stand and guard the Staw-loh, that no harm comes to my people and no harm comes to the fish that come up to feed them”. With her went her three girls and she holds the smallest one I-oh-wat in her hand. The family dog officially called “Lady” but known by the locals as “Dog Face” followed her back as well. Once again try to blend it and call her “Dog-face”. It does actually look like a dog’s head. A second child east of her is not getting enough attention and her tears form”Bridal Veil” falls; the 6th highest falls in Canada. Isn't this a lovely legend worth knowing? I know it has changed my perspective of this grand "mother mountain".

"Dog Face" Explained

The next post will continue with Mount Cheam, a tragedy that occurred, an angel and a place of wild strawberries.

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Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright November 19, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.


  1. Thank You Stephen for sharing those stories but I am not sure about the copyright which certainly does not include those stories.

    You display a passion for that region of British Columbia. I hold a toast up to that passion.

    Keep up your great work!

  2. Thanks for your comments and your toast.

  3. I saw a plume of steam this morning at the top of Mt. to it a latent volcano?

  4. No, Mount Cheam not a latent volcano like Mount Baker which is further south. Sometimes, if the wind is coming from the east it will pick up snow from the Mount Cheam ridge and send it sailing upwards into the air with quite a dramatic effect. This might be what you saw this morning. I looked at Mount Cheam mid-afternoon and all seem well up there now but let me know if you see anything else out of the ordinary.