The origins of Prince George can be traced to the fur trading post of Fort George, established in 1807 by Simon Fraser. The post was centered in the centuries-old homeland of the Lheidli T'Enneh First Nation. Agricultural settlement around Fort George began about 1906 when it was realized that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (later Canadian National Rail) would pass near the fur post. The railway arrived in 1914 and construction of the railway townsite commenced. The City of Prince George was incorporated on March 6, 1915.
Prince George struggled over the difficult years of the Great War, with a Spanish Flu epidenmic in 1918, and the Great Depresssion. But its economy sprang to life in World War II, when a new army camp of 6,000 soldiers bolstered demand for services. As post-war reconstruction efforts fuelled a growing international demand for lumber, Prince George's forest industry took root. By 1981, it was the second largest city in BC. Despite changes wrought by forest industry consolidation, wood remains the city's primary economic driver.
Prince George is situated where the Nechako River joins the Fraser River. Surrounding the City are the lake-dotted, rolling hills of the Nechako Plateau. The north-south Highway 97 and the east-west Highway 16 intersect at Prince George. The City is also the junction of the north/south and east/west-bound railways.
Prince George is 786 km (472 mi) northeast of Vancouver, 789 km (474 mi) northwest of Calgary, Alberta and lays claim to the title of BC's northern capital, being located at the geographic heart of BC.
Stimulate your brain at Exploration Place Science Centre and Museum, located in Fort George Park. Full-sized dinosaur models, 70-million-year old fossils, a range of live critters, hands-on games for kids, First Nations artifacts, a Virtual Voyages theatre that combines moving seats and sound to project you "into" action films about roller coasters, space voyages and ancient treasure hunts - are just some of the experiences that await.
Prince George Railway & Forestry Museum has one of the largest vintage rail collections in BC. Artifacts date from 1899, and include buildings, locomotives, rail cars and more from the steam and diesel railway eras, as well as vintage logging, mining and agricultural machinery.
The Two Rivers Gallery is a vital centre for visual art in Prince George and the central interior of British Columbia. It is run by the nonprofit Prince George Regional Art Gallery Association with a mission to encourage lifelong learning through the arts, create an environment for vigorous artistic and cultural expression, and provide opportunities for diverse experiences through participation and exhibition.
Located on the banks of the Fraser River, just 40 km (25 mi) north of Prince George off Highway 97, the Huble Homestead is a living heritage site that includes a restored turn-of-the-century homestead, general store and trading post, blacksmith shop, post office and First Nations fish camp. Walk the Giscome Portage, an 8.5 km (5 mi) trail that originates at the homestead and crosses the Continental Divide.
Shane Lake has 15 km (9 mi) of trails and is in the largest park in Prince George - Forests For The World. Savour lush flower gardens and a panormanic view from Connaught Hill Park. Walk, bike or blade the Heritage River Trail from Fort George Park, which follows the Fraser and Nechako Rivers to Cottonwood Island Park. For the more adventurous there are lots of hiking opportunities in the Prince George area including backwoods backpacking to horseback tours.
With over 1,600 lakes and streams within an hour of Prince George, the central interior offers world-class angling all year long. Area waterways are uncrowded by people and are teeming with rainbow trout, arctic grayling, Rocky Mountain whitefish, kokanee, bull trout, lake trout and burbot.
If big game is what you're after, opportunity abounds, whether you're looking to bag a trophy or simply capture wildlife on a strip of film. A large variety of guide-outfitters can take you to where the animals are.
Canoes have been a form of transportation in BC for centuries. Now they transport you to the most remote of settings for true backwoods adventure. Kayakers will also find ample opportunity to shoot the rapids or just enjoy a quiet paddle on a pristine lake.
A number of lakes allow jet-skis, water-skiing and pleasure crafts. River jetboat excursions are also available to take you where few have gone before. Wild whitewater can be had on river rafting expeditions just hours from town.
Prince George has seven golf courses, offering over 30,000 yards of fairways to challenge any skill level.
In the winter, exchange your hiking boots for a pair of snowshoes and make tracks into the bush. Nordic skiing opportunities are limitless, from groomed trails to the sparkling, snow-covered backcountry.
If sliding downhill is more your speed, strap on a board and get powdered at one of the local ski hills. Or switch on the engine and join brigades of local snowmobiling enthusiasts on hundreds of miles of groomed trails and limitless backcountry sledding throughout the region.
There are groomed cross-country ski trails convenient to downtown, three proximate ski hills and enough indoor and outdoor ice to keep skaters, curlers and hockey players moving!
The annual Northern Lights Festival is located on Connaught Hill. The event runs every night through December until January 2. Celebrate winter while driving around the hill and enjoying the light displays.
Tourism Prince George & The Visitor Information Centre
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia