Starvation Flats

Feature type: settlement
Province: British Columbia
Location: McLennan River valley

“We travelled south for 12 miles on a wide-open flat, until it became flanked on either side by steep mountains,” wrote Ervin MacDonald of his family’s 1907 trip through the Yellowhead Pass. “Here on the west side of the valley close to the base of a mountain range was McLennan River. The valley itself, we had been told, was called Starvation Flats. Nine years earlier a party of eastern Canadians heading for the Klondike had lost their way in the late fall. Trapped in this seemingly pleasant valley by sickness and injuries, heavy snow and bitter cold, they had run out of grub. Without snowshoes it was impossible for them to walk through the drifts. Having no idea how to fend for themselves in the bush, they became worn out and discouraged, and before spring all of them had died of starvation. ”

According to another report, “Dad Gordon first came into the area with pack horses. They had nothing to eat and had to kill their horses for food to keep from starving. One man died and was buried in the area known as Starvation or Deadman Flats.”


  • MacDonald, Ervin Austin. The rainbow chasers. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1982
  • Yellowhead Pass and its people. Valemount, B.C.: Valemount Historic Society, 1984

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