Hudson's Hope was originally known as Rocky Mountain Portage Fort, built by Simon Fraser in the autumn of 1805 at the foot of the Rocky Mountain Canyon on the north bank of the Peace River. Operated for a time by the Hudson's Bay Company after its coalition with the North West Company in 1821, it was abandoned in 1825 to punish the Indians for a massacre at Fort St. John in 1823.
New Hudson's Hope was built about 1875 on the south bank of the Peace River about 12 miles further upstream near the east end of the canyon. Some time after 1880 this post was again moved to its present location on the north side of the river, on a seven-acre site surveyed out and still remaining in the name of the Hudson's Bay Company, except for portions sold to the Anglican Church and the Hudson's Hope Historical Society.
Hudson's Hope continued to be an important navigational point because of the impassable rapids above the town. Settlers and supplies were freighted in from Lake Athabasca at first, then later from Peace River Crossing when the railway reached that point. The sternwheelers, beginning with Bishop Grouard's 'St. Charles' in 1903 broke the eternal silence of the North with their sharp whistles and easier ingress of settlers. This boat operated the 525 miles between the rapids called Vermilion Chutes to Hudson's Hope. In 1905 the Hudson's Bay Company put their sternwheeler, SS Peace River, into operation. It was a 110 ft long vessel that could carry 40 tons of freight.
In 1954 the population of Hudson's Hope was under 100. In 1965 it was 2,700. True to its erratic nature, Hudson's Hope in 1965 became an "Instant Municipality," the third in British Columbia, matching its status of being also the third oldest community in the Province of British Columbia. Its 400 square miles held the largest territory of any municipality in the province. During the Bennett Dam hey-day, activities in the town included no less than 37 recreation and service clubs, ranging in interest from music appreciation to fly-tying to sky diving.
Hudson's Hope is located on the banks of the Peace River in the Rocky Mountain foothills of British Columbia, 90 km (56 mi) west of Fort St. John and 66 km (41 mi) north of Chetwynd on Hwy 29.
Twenty minutes from downtown Hudson's Hope, one of the largest earth-filled dams in the world offers scheduled tours of the underground powerhouse, a collection of hands-on exhibits, and a video presentation.
Located behind the WAC Bennett Dam, Williston Lake is the largest reservoir in British Columbia with a surface area of 1,773 square kilometers and extending 200 km (120 mi) north from Mackenzie. It offers excellent fishing and boating, as well as the opportunity to find fossils in the surrounding area.
This hydro-electric project can be seen from the Hudson's Hope Bridge. You will meet life-size dinosaur replicas in the Visitor Centre and find dinosaur tracks across a wall. A comprehensive photo history of the area is on display.
Indulge in those childhood dreams of becoming a famous explorer by discovering the finest collection of fossils in the Peace River area! Impress children and loved ones by showing them rare ichthyosaurs, hadrosaur tracks, mammoth teeth, and ammonites! And if this isn't enough to set your mind agog, there are displays detailing the history of the area, as well as a 1951 International fire truck in working order! Look around the "Trapper's Cabin" with an array of animal traps and examples of local wildlife. Walk through the "Peck House" and see what kitchen utensils were in use 50 years ago. The museum building is the Hudson's Bay Store of 1942 and was in use as such until 1954.
Bald eagles are in abundance and can be viewed and photographed throughout the year. Jamieson Woods Nature Preserve is home to many types of birds, including seven species of woodpeckers. Many species of big game animals, such as moose, elk, and bear, can be seen on the highways leading into the town. Deer roam daily through the streets of the town.
Surrounded by lakes and rivers, Hudson's Hope offers a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, including excellent fishing, boating, water skiing, canoeing, hunting, camping, hiking, swimming, and sailing.
There is excellent fishing in the area with lakes and rivers full of Rainbow Trout, Arctic Grayling, Whitefish, Lake Trout, Dolly Varden and Northern Pike. Carbon, Dinosaur, Williston, Cameron and Moberly Lakes as well as the Peace River are some of the favourite fishing spots.
Jamieson Woods Nature Preserve is home to ancient sand dunes, mature mixed pine/aspen forest, abundant variety of flowers and shrubs including calypso orchids and intricate mushrooms. It is ideal for hiking and there are great trails for mountain bikes in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. Cameron Lake Outdoor Education Facility also offers excellent trails for both hiking and cross-country skiing.
Hudson's Hope Visitor Centre
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia