Buffalo near Vanderhoof Photo SimonSees.com
McBride is located on the Yellowhead Highway 16 in Northern British Columbia. The surrounding region has many lakes, mountains and parks that offer beautiful scenic views, and outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, and boating. These areas also contain numerous wildlife habitats. The region boasts an exceptional variety of bird species such as northern harriers, ospreys, grebes, song sparrows, common yellowthroats, kingfishers, warblers, Canada Geese, coots, and a wide variety of duck species.
The area has several landmarks for visitors to check out. The Heritage Railway Station was, for a while, touted as the largest station between Winnipeg and Prince Rupert. The current station, has stood since 1919. It is a recreation of the original, which was lost to a fire in 1918. It now serves as the home of the community Visitor Centre. The Valley Museum, run by a group of local volunteers dedicated to preserving the history of the valley, displays both local artifacts, and travelling shows.
The region also offers outdoor expeditions via air and ATV tours. These guided tours showcase the most spectacular sites that the area has to offer.
For centuries the Yellowhead Pass was an aboriginal trading route. The nineteenth century brought explorers, goldseekers and surveyors, and in 1872 Sir Sanford Fleming and his engineers began surveying to find railway routes through the pass.
In 1912, railway crews surveyed the region. The company built a rail station the very next year, naming the region as Mile 90 of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Later the region was named McBride after Richard McBride, the Premier of British Columbia.
The original industry of the region was based around the progression of the railway, mainly construction, and forestry. Farming was also established to ensure that the new town was not solely reliant on the import of food. Sawmills produced poles and ties for the railway, but also lumber for buildings. Three main hotels and several rooming houses were constructed to house the growing region’s inhabitants and visitors.
Although the railway company actively sought out settlers for the community, with the introduction of the automobile, people rarely travelled to places that they could not drive. And although residents of the area lobbied for decades for a road, they had to wait.
By 1968, the Yellowhead Highway connected Prince Rupert and Edmonton, through McBride. But by then the town had already shrunk. As people began to learn of the valleys attractions, accommodations began to grow again.