The Hope-Princeton Slide

by Paddy Graber, ca. 1965
Sung by Paddy Graber
Transcribed from Paddy's home-made tape recording

This song, set to the tune of “Tramps and Hawkers,” was made by
Paddy Graber of Vancouver, B.C. from newspaper reports shortly
after the HopePrinceton slide. This song is also recorded on
"Now it’s Called Princeton: Songs & Poems of BC’s Upper Similkameen"
by Jon Bartlett

Come all you bold Canadians that’s glad to be alive,
And I’ll tell you of a tragedy that occurred in sixty-five.
‘Twas on the ninth of January in the year of the great snow,
Two boys and a girl climbed into their car a journey for to go.

‘Twas on the great Hope-Princeton, the time was almost five
If they had come through earlier they still might be alive.
They passed a west-bound tanker on a stretch called Nine Mile Hill
In a yellow car on an icy road, ‘twas there they had their spill.

They thought it was a snowbank, high above the curve,
Then saw it was a landslide, they had no time to swerve.
Bernie Beck, he was the driver and he tried his best to brake
But slammed into the rock and slush not far from Beaver Lake.

Stephanishin stopped his tanker to see what he could do
But found the slide had blocked the road, no chance of getting through,
So he grabbed a powerful lantern, trying not to act too rash
And made his way along the road to help out at the crash.

The boys he found upon the road, the girl still in the car:
“Climb into my cab,” Stephanishin said, “You’re safer there by far.”
“ Oh, get your truck, “ the boys then called, “and try to pull us out,
If we don’t move this convertible, ‘twill be lost without a doubt.”

“Stay away from the car!” Stepanishin cried, “There’s more rock coming down -
The safest thing for you to do is walk with me to town.”
Then Tom Starchuck he came down the road, with his truck piled up with hay
And after the boys had talked to him they decided for to stay.

Stepanishin walked till he met the bus and bade it turn around
And drive him to Sumallo Lodge where help might then be found.
After he gave the warning he returned by light of day
And to his great amazement found a mountain slid away.

It swept the rocks and trees before as with a giant broom
And for those four young people it became a mighty tomb.
He gazed up at the mountains, which reached up to the sky
And thought, “But for a trucker’s instinct, ‘neath that rock-pile I might lie.”

So come all ye bold Canadians that’s glad to be alive -
When on the highways of BC be careful how you drive,
And heed a trucker’s warning when he talks about a slide,

And remember the tragic story of how four young people died.


"This song speaks of an enormous rockslide some nine miles east of Hope, BC which killed four people. The scar on the mountainside is visible to this day. Two earthquakes occurred in the early morning of 9 January 1965. The first brought down a relatively small rockslide, but the second transformed the valley. On the face of Johnson’s Peak, 100 million tons of rock began to shift and slip. It slid down 2,000 feet at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, gouging 500 feet into the mountainside. It slashed across the highway, obliterating the vehicles held up at the first slide, pulverizing Highways Department heavy equipment, scooped up thousands of tons of water in Beaver Lake and snapped off huge trees 200 feet up the other side of the valley. It buried the valley to a depth of fifteen feet, and closed the highway for 21 days. This song, set to the tune of “Tramps and Hawkers”, was made by Paddy Graber from newspaper reports shortly after the slide."
From the liner notes "Now it’s Called Princeton: Songs & Poems of BC’s Upper Similkameen" CD, Jon Bartlett



Pacific Nothwest Folklore Society