(YALE, B.C.) Dawn on a bitterly cold January morning: Captain Grant of the Royal Engineers peers across the frozen Fraser River at Hill’s Bar, headquarters of a band of rebels who want to take over British Columbia. Grant and his men must make it past this stronghold held by notorious San Franciscan ruffians to relieve Fort Yale, which is on the point of anarchy. Can they slip past unseen? Suddenly, a sentry from Hill’s Bar hails them. A shot rings out. What happens next will determine the course of B.C. history…

This crucial moment from B.C.’s past will be recreated by the RE Living History Group on January 18, 2009 – 150 years to the day that it took place. A series of events organized by the New Pathways To Gold Society (NPTGS) and community partners will also commemorate this dramatic episode from McGowan’s War of 1859.

“This march will kick off our 2009 recreation cycle,” said Simon Sobolewski from the RE Living History Group. “It’s the first of many events we have planned and one of the most exciting.”

The RE Living History Group will start their march in the morning between Hope and Yale, just like the Royal Engineers did in 1859. They will arrive in Yale at about noon for a greeting ceremony, inspection and a demonstration for the public. A short talk on McGowan’s War by author Don Hauka will follow in nearby St. John the Divine church. A light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

“It’s extremely exciting to have a re-creation of the arrival of the Royal Engineers in Yale, where the material evidence of their skilled work persists in artifacts, trails, St. John the Divine Church, the Cariboo Wagon Road and in the very streets themselves,” said Elaine Wismer, Vice President of the Yale and District Historical Society.

The event marks the 150th anniversary of McGowan’s War, a little-known conflict in B.C. history that threatened to deliver the newly-minted Crown Colony of British Columbia into the hands of American annexationists. Feuding between two rival American factions at Yale and Hill’s Bar and incompetent, corrupt colonial officials helped spark the conflict, says NPTGS co-chair Chris O’Connor.

“This is a pivotal moment in our history,” said O’Connor. “Many of the great figures from the birth of modern B.C. were involved — Colonel Richard Clement Moody, Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie and of course, Ned McGowan himself, one of the most colourful characters from the Gold rush era.”

Kate Zabell, chair of the Hope Region Spirit of B.C. Committee, says the event is a significant one that brings together the many partners involved in local BC150 activities.

“The re-enacting of our history has created a wealth of memories for our communities,” said Zabell. “Living the experiences of the peoples from our shared past connects us to the courage, stamina and persistence of our forebears.”