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Burns Lake

Burns Lake, heart of the scenic Lakes District along the Yellowhead Highway 16 in Northern British Columbia, is a community with big dreams. Residents are confident the region’s wealth of natural resources – particularly its 3,000 miles of fishing – hold the promise of future prosperity. After one visit to the area, you’re sure to agree.

The community of Francois Lake is just 23 km (14 mi) south following Highway 35. This beautiful lake is 110 km (68 mi) long and the second longest naturally occurring lake entirely within British Columbia. The lake is popularly fished for Rainbow Trout and Char.

Burns Lake and the Lakes District cover an area of approximately 1.5 million hectares, with 9% of this comprised of lakes and 2% consisting of the northern portion of Tweedsmuir Park.

Location

Burns Lake is located within a 90 km (56 mi) radius of the geographic centre of British Columbia midway between Prince George and Prince Rupert. Nearby communities include Houston 80 km (50 mi) to the west and Fort Fraser 91 km (56 mi) and Vanderhoof 128 km (80 mi) to the east.

A Step Back in Time

The body of water from which the community derives its name was officially “discovered” by the Borland Expedition, whose members passed through the area while surveying a route for the Overland Telegraph. Legend has it that shortly before the Borland Expedition arrived, a tremendous forest fire swept through the area, blackening trees and generally turning the countryside into a sooty mess. The charred landscape prompted members of the expedition to dub the long, narrow body of water lying at the bottom of this unknown valley as “Burnt Lake” – a name that over the years became “Burns Lake”.

Reports of the forest fire deterred settlers from coming to Burns Lake. As a result, settlers didn’t arrive in the area until 1911 when construction crews arrived to begin work on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad. Many of these men, upon seeing the area’s potential, elected to remain behind when railroad construction moved westward; others, lured by the promise of inexpensive land, arrived by train to begin a new life.

Judging from early accounts, life in the Lakes District during those early years was a challenge. There were few permanent residents of the area, and even fewer homes. The train arrived three times a week, stopping only long enough to unload mail and what meager supplies the settlers could afford. The area’s train station was merely a wide spot on the rail grade, with no permanent structure.

Into this scene swaggered red-haired Trygarn Pelham Lyster Mulvany, who was more commonly known as “Barney”. He arrived in the area with the contents of a construction camp he’d won in a poker game. He pitched two tents in a conspicuous location along the rail line not far from the lake; one became a cook tent, the other a 12-bed hotel. Twenty-four transients arrived for dinner the day he opened for business.

Canvas-walled tents gave way to sturdy log cabins as more settlers arrived in the area. In 1923, Barney’s old “tent town” was incorporated as the Village of Burns Lake. It was at that time a small, but vibrant community of 150 people – most of them men.

Burns Lake has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Although the community has retained its pioneer spirit and small town charm, today it is a modern community. It is also the largest village in British Columbia. Forestry, farming, and tourism fuel the area’s economy, giving it economic stability. Meanwhile its strategic location in the middle of BC makes it an ideal service centre.

Contact Information

Visit Burns Lake

Burns Lake & Nearby Accommodations

32 Listings

Beaver Point Resort
Capri Motor Inn
Takysie Lake Resort

Takysie Lake Resort

Burns Lake

Welcome to Takysie Lake Resort, the ideal vacation destination for both fishermen and non-fishermen! Sit on the dock or in your boat and watch the fish leap from the water to catch their meal. Relax in our tranquil getaway, listen to the sounds of the loons and watch ospreys soar across the sky. Sit ... Read more
Birch Bay Resort

Birch Bay Resort

Francois Lake

Birch Bay Resort is located on the northeast end of Francois Lake. This first class year round family resort in Central British Columbia offers great fishing, hiking and boating - with accommodations fit for all occasions. Birch Bay offers full serviced R.V. sites each having water, power, sewer, pi ... Read more
Pipers Glen Resort

Pipers Glen Resort

Fort Fraser

Overlooking beautiful Fraser Lake, Pipers Glen Resort is a fantastic destination for families to experience many outdoor activities. We are close to Fraser Mountain hiking trail, where you’ll find breathtaking views. Rent our kayaks or pedal boats for a fun day on the lake. We also have great fish ... Read more
Pitka Bay Resort

Pitka Bay Resort

Fort St. James

Welcome to Pitka Bay Resort! Your premier lodging, camping & fishing retreat located in picturesque Fort Saint James, British Columbia. Situated on Stuart Lake, Pitka Bay is private, serene & an ideal location for a couples getaway or family holiday. Come soak up the sun with us! ... Read more
Fort Telkwa Riverfront RV Campground

Fort Telkwa Riverfront RV Campground

Telkwa

Every site overlooks the Bulkley River with mountain views and are able to access free unlimited WiFi at site. Full services include 30/50 amp, sewer, water, cable TV. We have a free RV Wash, coin laundry, boat launch, campfires, nature trails. Can accommodate all sizes of RV's. Self-contained RVs o ... Read more
Witset RV Park & Campground

Witset RV Park & Campground

Witset

The 40-site campground is located 30 km north of Smithers just off Hwy 16. Overlooks the beautiful Witset Canyon with access to world-class salmon fishing. 32 sites have 30/50 amp service, 19 fully-serviced with water (8 pull-thrus). Free WiFi and one load of firewood. Laundry facilities and fishing ... Read more
Riverside Municipal Campground

Riverside Municipal Campground

Smithers

Situated on the Bulkley River, Riverside Park Municipal Campground & RV Park is a beautiful, peaceful destination for guests wanting to relax on their holidays. Operated by the Town of Smithers, the campground offers safe, quiet and simple approach to camping. Enjoy spectacular views at your site an ... Read more
Riverside Park Campground

Riverside Park Campground

Vanderhoof

Located along the banks of the Nechako River at Riverside Park. 38 sites all with water and electricity. Free WiFi and showers available for campers. Playground, unsupervised swimming; boating, beach volleyball court, covered picnic area and lit walking/running path. Please note due to COVID-19, th ... Read more
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Camping Lodging

The Super Camping / Select Lodging Guide

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