B.C.'s first registered female trapper

July 23rd, 2020 1 Minute

Ella Bronson Frye arrived in Red Deer, Alberta, in 1907. She was one of nine children born to Fred and Edith Frye. In 1911 the Frye’s moved to Tete Jaune Cache, B.C., and in 1916 Ella attended school but only for a short time.

At age seven, Ella’s grandfather Julius Bronson started taking little Ella on wilderness adventures, fostering her love for trapping and the outdoors.
Ella left home at the age of 16. She was a strong woman with an independent mind and trapped for many years.

“Ella’s life rivals any fictional character for adventure, courage, and self-reliance.”

Jean R. Haines
Ella Frye at trapper’s cabin with beaver pelts, Valemount area.
Image courtesy of Valemount Historical Society

It wasn’t until 1933 at the age of 26 that Ella became the first registered female trapper in British Columbia. She had 200 sq miles of trapline that she worked on for months at a time, killing moose for food, and traveling from cabin to cabin, eleven cabins in all.

Ella trapped martin, fisher, beaver, and wolverine; she also encountered bears, killing a grizzly at 50 feet as it charged her. On another occasion, she clubbed a black bear unconscious and then severed its jugular vein.

During the summer, Ella worked in forestry, cutting and clearing fire trails. She also worked at sawmills, built cabins, and made her snowshoes.

In October of 1978, at the age of seventy-two, Ella hung up her snowshoes for good. During her life, she shot four grizzlies, became a poet, a capable logger, and an experienced packer. She died in 1995.

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