Since his retirement 20 years ago, Maple Ridge’s Fred Braches has devoted his time to archiving local history.
On Wednesday, Aug. 26, Braches will help bring to life one of the region’s most legendary tales.
The local historian is part of the History channel’s Canadian original series Curse of the Frozen Gold.
The first episode airs at 10 p.m. and which delves into the legend of the lost treasure of Slumach and his lost gold mine.
In 1891, an elderly native man named Slumach was hanged in New Westminster for murdering Louis Bee. Myth links Slumach to a fabled bonanza known as Slumach´s Gold near Pitt Lake.
The gold’s lure has claimed numerous gold hunters’ lives for over a century – perhaps victims of the curse or something more sinister.
Allegedly worth billions, ‘Slumach’s Gold’ has intrigued prospectors for more than 100 years and the show features Braches along with five other experts as they take on the legend.
“I didn’t expect this. It came out of the blue as far as I am concerned,” said Braches.
Around 1900, stories began popping up in the press about gold found by a native man in the mountains around Pitt Lake. In 1915, the story began to take shape when an American prospector named Armstrong connected Slumach to the gold.
The Pitt Lake gold legend had since taken a life of its own and was furthered by old-timers, journalists, and authors in their own versions of the legend.
The local historian has an extensive website devoted to the topic (www.slumach.ca) that archives the story.
He said the experience of making the show was too much to pass up. As for how the show turned out, even he will have to watch.
“It was very exciting,” said Braches. “We don’t know how it turned out. We have seen fragments of the show, but never a complete episode. It was great fun, with a lot of very pleasant memories. We are all different in character and experiences, but we worked quite well together.”
Braches is joined on the show with Adam Palmer, described as the “Trail Blazer,” Evan Howard, the “Adventurer,” Don Waites , the “Legend,” Daryl Friesen, the “True Believer,” and Danny Gerak, dubbed as the “Local.”
Braches was labelled as the skeptic.
“Let me say, ‘There is gold everywhere in B.C. There is no creek without gold, practically. Gold there will be, but will there be a large find, I doubt it. The geologists say no, it’s not likely that there will be a big conglomerate found,’” he said.
Part of the show’s allure is the remote locations where it had to shoot, said Braches. The group of six are forced to contend with the rugged forest, jagged mountain peaks, predatory wildlife and dangerous cracks in the ice. It’s a region steeped in danger, but the show is billed as a “group is fuelled by a severe case of gold fever.”
He said the team of six have gotten together in the past to go over the facts, but the chance to make a show afforded them a rare opportunity to really flush out the story.
“I was amazed at how well it went as far as cooperation and congeniality,” he said. “I’m looking forward to watching.”