FRASER, the chief river of British Columbia, Canada, rising in two branches among the Rocky Mountains near 52° 4 5' N., 118° 30' W. Length 740 m. It first flows N.W. for about 160 m., then rounds the head of the Cariboo Mountains, and flows directly S. for over 400 m. to Hope, where it again turns abruptly and flows W. for 80 m., falling into the Gulf of Georgia at New Westminster. After the junction of the two forks near its northern extremity, the first important tributary on its southern course is the Stuart, draining Lakes Stuart, Fraser and Francois. One hundred miles lower down the Quesnel, draining a large lake of the same name, flows in from the east at a town also so named. Farther on the Fraser receives from the west the Chilcotin, and at Lytton, about 180 m. from the sea, the Thompson, its largest tributary, flows in from the east, draining a series of mountain lakes, and receiving at Kamloops the North Thompson, which flows through deep and impassable canyons. Below Hope the Lillooet flows in from the north. The Fraser is a typical mountain stream, rapid and impetuous through all its length, and like most of its tributaries is in many parts not navigable even by canoes. On its southern course between Lytton and Yale, while bursting its way through the Coast Range, it flows through majestic canyons, which, like those of the Thompson, were the scene of many tragedies during the days of the gold-rush to the Cariboo district. At Yale, about 80 m. from its mouth, it becomes navigable, though its course is still very rapid. In the Cariboo district, comprised within the great bend of the river, near Tete Jaune Cache, are many valuable gold deposits. With its tributaries the Fraser drains the whole province from 54° to 49° N., except the extreme south-eastern corner, which is within the basin of the Columbia and its tributary the Kootenay.
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