Clastic strata composing the northern Bowser basin record the accretion of Stikinia to the composite western edge of the North American plate (Cache Creek-Quesnellia-Slide Mountain-Kootenay North America) in early Middle Jurassic time and the concomitant demise of the intervening Cache Creek ocean. Initial flexural subsidence of the northern Bowser basin, resulting from thrust loading of Cache Creek terrane on Stikinia, is represented by an organic-rich shale of Aalenian age (the Abou Formation of the Spatsizi Group). Coarse-grained sediment first appeared in early Bajocian time following uplift and subaerial exposure of Cache Creek rocks in the upper plate. Thus, the inception of the Bowser basin was Aalenian, rather than Bajocian, as believed by earlier workers. Aalenian southwest-vergent thrusting at the composite western edge of North America is also known from southern British Columbia, a coincidence that implicates collision with Stikinia in the south as a cause of that deformation.