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Travel Spotlight

Burns Lake

Burns Lake, heart of the scenic Lakes District, 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 37. This beautiful lake is well worth the trip, at 110 km (68 mi) long, it is the second longest naturally occurring lake entirely within British Columbia. The lake is popularly fished for Rainbow Trout and Char.

Location

Burns Lake is located within a 90 km (56 mi) radius of the geographic centre of British Columbia. It is approximately 500 km (310 mi) from the BC-Alberta border, 500 km (310 mi) from Prince Rupert, 1,000 km (620 mi) from the BC-Yukon border, and 1,000 km (620 mi) from the BC-Washington State border. Burns Lake and the Lakes District cover an area of approximately 1,564,191 hectares in total, with 9% of this figure comprised of lakes and 2% consisting of the northern portion of Tweedsmuir Park.

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 (to say the least) 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. I 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 the kind of stability other communities can only dream about. Meanwhile its strategic location in the middle of BC makes it an ideal service centre.

Contact Information

Visit Burns Lake

Burns Lake & Nearby Accommodations

25 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
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
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, free private shower rooms, free sauna, coin laundry, boat launch, campfires, nature trails. Can accommodate ... 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. This park offers camping in a park setting. 38 sites, 9 with water and electricity. WiFi available. Call ahead to reserve. Playground, unsupervised swimming; boating, volleyball court, covered picnic area and lit walking/running path. Pet policy. ... Read more
Siesta Inn

Siesta Inn

Vanderhoof

Centrally located in downtown Vanderhoof on Hwy 16, Siesta Inn is a great location for overnight travellers or week-long guests. We offer very clean and quiet accommodations, featuring double and queen beds. Our rooms are newly furnished and equipped with free in-room WiFi, coffee services, microwav ... Read more
Finger Lake Wilderness Resort

Finger Lake Wilderness Resort

Vanderhoof

Getaway, relax & unwind at Finger Lake Wilderness Resort – a quiet, secluded resort in Northern BC. Here you will find self-contained housekeeping lakeside rustic log cabins with BBQs at affordable rates. Enjoy the exclusive access to private Finger Lake. The resort is small and family-oriented wh ... Read more
Glacier View RV Park & Cabin Rentals

Glacier View RV Park & Cabin Rentals

Smithers

Located in beautiful Smithers with panoramic views of glaciers. Join us for a relaxing vacation as you sit back and listen to the sounds of nature. We offer various accommodations, including cabins, cottages and serviced sites, to suit every need. Our self-contained cabins and cottages feature runni ... Read more
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Travel Spotlight
Camping Lodging

The Super Camping / Select Lodging Guide

First Published in 1989