The life of Clyde “Slim” Williams in the Okanagan

A look back in time: The famous Clyde “Slim” Williams

Slim was known for wanting to connect the unchartered coastal range with the Canadian road system

Clyde “Slim” Williams arrived in Alaska on his 19th birthday and spent the next 30 years searching for adventure. He trapped, guided and bred his famous sled-dogs; those mostly wolf sled-dogs.

Slim was a huge proponent for an automobile link with the rest of the U.S., and spent a great deal of time lobbying local officials to support the plan. He found a cohort in Senior Engineer, Donald McDonald, of the Alaska Road Commission who advocated a land route along the Pacific Coast. Slim approached him with an idea to drive a sled team south along the unchartered coastal range and hook up with the Canadian road system at Atlin. He would then head south and take his highway plan to the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1933. He was laughed at and ridiculed by the other sourdoughs and on a bet, he made his plans to go.

Undaunted, he left Copper Centre, Alaska in November of 1932. He drove his dogs over the frozen mountains using only crude maps and vague descriptions. It took him 5 months to reach to northern-most road of the British Columbia tundra. From that point it was quite easy going and he traded his sled runners for wheels from an old model “T”. He began to be a celebrity.

Along the route, folks asked him to stay over; they fed him and women made leather boots for his dogs. The press followed his progress throughout the trip.

Arriving in Kamloops in the spring of 1933, he headed down the Nicola and ended up in Princeton. There he met Salvation Jim. Their photo is above.

Jim was a retired Yukon Sourdough and he and Slim really hit it off. Jim insisted he stay with him and have a couple of drinks. Jim got the local photographers out for press photos and Slim ended up staying several days. When Slim finally got back on the road, he was sent off with a hail of shots from Jim’s six-gun that was always strapped to his hip and headed down the Okanagan River Valley then turned east.

Fan mail rolled in and by October 1933, there was a crowd waiting as he entered the World’s Fair grounds. He and his dogs had completed 5600 miles, the longest dog-sled trip in history.

The theme for the fair was “A Century of Progress”. Slim took over the Alaska Pavilion and it became the most popular feature of the fair. Mrs. Roosevelt told newsmen that she enjoyed her visit with “the tall young man from Alaska, with blue eyes that looked far away.”

On invitation from the President, Slim had several interviews in Washington, D.C. He was received by the highest officials of the capital, where he laid out his plan for the national highway.

His sponsors would have been proud of his ability to capture audience imagination when he spoke. The Adventurers’ Club found him sincere, rugged and straight-forward with a wonderful sense of humour.

The highway was not built until 1940 and did not take Slim’s route.

Missed last week’s column?

A look back in time: The sinking of Skookum I

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Gucci Mane concert officially postponed in Penticton

Agency is looking at new tour dates between the Sept. 3 and 15

LETTER: Statement about Fortin included incorrect information

Comments made publicly had suggested a double standard

COLUMN: The view is worth the climb

Reflections on Summerland’s Giants Head Grind and marital commitment

Column: A solar pioneer in the Okanagan rides among us

This Summerland octogenarian has been producing his own electrical energy for more than 20 years

VIDEO: Showers are back in the forecast

Temperatures are expected to drop, paired with clouds and rain

Okanagan company wins contract for Kitimat LNG project

SK Form & Finish will work with equivalent of 4,000 fully loaded concrete trucks

Bizarre incident in Okanagan alley leads to arrest of Calgary man

A man was witnessed jumping on a car ‘acting like an ape’

Most British Columbians agree the ‘big one’ is coming, but only 50% are prepared

Only 46 per cent of British Columbians have prepared an emergency kit with supplies they might need

Kamloops RCMP bait program expands to include packages and bikes

Police are scatter items throughout the city in an attempt to lure thieves

B.C. man to pay Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party $20k over lawsuit

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Okanagan businesses evacuated after potentially explosive situation

Gas line hit, RCMP block off entire block in downtown Vernon

Support sought for family of mother who died at Shuswap campground

Chase Fire and Rescue Association hosting May 25 fundraiser

A look back in time: A Greyhound saga

The Greyhound bus crash of 1937 in Summerland

Most Read