The HBC fort that was never built

Otis Parsons

Otis Parsons – packer

In 1858, Lieutenant Mayne of the Royal Engineers suggested an area on the east side of the Fraser River, opposite Cayoosh (Lillooet), as an ideal spot to locate a trading post.  Later that year, the Hudson’s Bay Company claimed fifty acres and made plans to erect a fort to be named Fort Berens in honour of Henry Hulse Berens, a HBC governor. Fort Berens became known as the HBC fort that was never built.

Near this site grew a settlement that became known as Parsonville, named after Otis Parsons. Otis Parsons came to British Columbia during the Fraser River gold rush in 1858 and was one of the miners who helped to build the Port Douglas-Cayoosh trail. Later, he became a packer.

During the gold rush there were several ferries which crossed the Fraser River between Cayoosh (re-named Lillooet in 1860) and Parsonville. The width at the mouth of Lillooet Canyon was narrow and it was there that John Mueller operated a friction-cable barge known as Miller’s Ferry, considered to be the safest route for wagons and horses.