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British Columbia's north is a vast wilderness of grizzly bears, pristine glaciers, ancient totems, and raw rugged beauty. Out of the vast land of creeping glaciers and dense, ancient forests come tales of a wilderness steeped in mystery and adventure. 2012 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Alaska Highway - the perfect time to tour the region and take in all it has to offer.
Amidst this backdrop of breathtaking natural beauty, Northern BC is also rich in cultural attractions and entertainment.
This summer, why not explore all the arts, culture, and excitement that Northern BC has to offer? There's something here for everyone!
1. Alaska Highway House, Mile 0, Dawson Creek, http://www.tourismdawsoncreek.com/alaska_highway_house.php. Learn the story of the people who built the Alaska Highway. A war effort, the US Military worked alongside Canadian civilians to build this road in a gruelling 9 months in 1942. Workers braved horrific conditions but overcame the challenges and got the job done.
2. Fort Nelson Heritage Museum, Fort Nelson, www.fortnelsonmuseum.ca. This is a gem! A transportation-themed museum with a machine shed full of restored antique vehicles, a Hudson Bay Company factor's house, oil derrick, and many remnants of building the Alaska Highway. Taxidermy, antique tools and even an albino moose are on display.
3. Two Rivers Gallery, Prince George, www.tworiversartgallery.com. This is not your typical, hushed art gallery! They welcome and embrace families, and invite you to make your own art in the "Make Art Make Sense" room, inspired by current exhibitions.
4. Central BC Railway & Forestry Museum, Prince George, www.pgrfm.bc.ca. Preserving and displaying historic railway and forestry artefacts, with over seventy pieces of rolling stock, nine historical buildings and numerous smaller artefacts on an 8-acre site.
5. Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay, Skidegate, www.haidaheritagecentre.com. An award-winning attraction located on Haida Gwaii, the centre includes a carving shed, canoe house for Haida canoes (including Bill Reid's Lootaas), and the Haida Gwaii Museum, displaying artifacts repatriated from all over the world.The centre houses classrooms and a theatre, and is alive with contemporary Haida culture.
6. Heritage Park Museum, Terrace, www.heritageparkmuseum.com. Features authentic local, log buildings, costumed interpreters, wagon garage, blacksmith shop, and an organic Heritage Garden. Come in and spend some time in Terrace in the early years of the last century.
7. Fort St James National Historic Site, http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/bc/stjames/index.aspx. Experience life in 1896, on the shores of beautiful Stuart Lake. The fort is a former Hudson Bay Company fur trade post, and is a great place to spend a day - or now, a night! The site has a B&B program, where visitors can spend the night in the officer's house!
8. North Coast Artist's Cooperative, Prince Rupert, www.icehousegallery.ca. The Ice House Gallery is the retail service of the North Coast Artists' Cooperative. In the gallery, you'll find a wide range of high quality, original works created by local artists from across Canada's Pacific Northwest.
9. Museum of Northern BC, Prince Rupert, www.museumofnorthernbc.com. The architecture of a Northwest Coast longhouse, coupled with amazing archaeological treasures, make this a must-see stop to any visitor to Prince Rupert. Well-documented exhibits, guided tours, and an excellent gift shop.
10. Nisga'a Museum - Hli Goothl Wilp Adokshl Nisga'a, Greenville, www.nisgaamuseum.ca. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Nisga'a treasures left the Nass Valley. During the struggle for their treaty, Nisga'a elders and leaders fought to ensure this scattered legacy would find its way back home. Now, housed in a permanent place of honour, this treasury of Nisga'a culture ranks as one of the preeminent collections of Northwest Coast aboriginal art.
While you're exploring, be sure to stop in at a visitor centre and ask about local farmer's markets, festivals, and events. Don't forget to read up on the Alaska Highway before you go! And click here to read more about touring Northern BC.