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Burns Lake BC

The Village of Burns Lake is situated 229 km west of Prince George, BC on  "the scenic Yellowhead Highway". Elevation 2,300 feet, population 2,500 it has a service or trading area of 10,000 people.

Burns Lake is located in the Lakes District within the boundaries of the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District and the Nechako Development Region. The  area was originally called Burnt Lake and is the gateway to the world famous  Tweedsmuir Park, the largest park in BC. The Lakes District includes the communities  of Burns Lake, Granisle, Topley, Southbank, Fort Fraser, Francois Lake, and  Endako.

History of Burns Lake

The first people living here were the Wet'suwet'en First Nation. They lived  for several thousand years as hunter/gathers. The Wet'suwet'en built boats for fishing and travel. They harvested fruits, plants and tubers for food  as well as medical purposes. They also participated in the active trading networks that saw oolichan oil or "grease" transported up from the coastal tribes. These "grease trails" provided travel networks as  far inland as the prairies. It was a grease trail that Alexander MacKenzie followed while exploring an overland fur trade route to the Pacific Ocean  in 1793

The Wet'suwet'em are a matriarchal society organized into four different clans of Bear, Beaver, Caribou, and Frog. Their social and economic structure centred around the "Potlatch". All major events such as births,  marriages or deaths were an occasion for a Potlatch. This was a celebration where gifts were given to guests in a display of wealth. The Potlatch ceremonies were also an occasion for clan leaders to discuss territorial adjustments  and to arrange future alliances.

The Village of Burns Lake was first settled in the 19th century during construction  of the Collins overland telegraph line to Alaska and Siberia. Further settlement followed the construction of the Railroad in 1914. In the early 1950's, the  Aluminium Company of Canada (Alcan) constructed an aluminium smelter at Kitimat. In order to generate the necessary electricity, they dammed the Nechako River  to create the huge Ootsa Lake Reservoir and then tunnelled through a mountain to divert the water to a generating facility in Kitimat.

The first non-native man to settle in Burns Lake was Charles Bulkley, an American engineer responsible for the telegraph trail that was to link up with the Siberian network. It ran from Fraser Lake to Burns Lake and Decker  Lake, down the Bulkley River to Hazelton and then up the Kispiox River into the Yukon. This telegraph was intended to provide North America with direct  communication to Europe. However, an Atlantic cable was completed first, and  most of the line was abandoned in 1936.

One of Burns Lake's prominent early citizens was Barney Mulvaney, an enterprising trapper and packer who operated a mail and passenger service. He is credited  with starting the tent town which became Burns Lake. He also ran the saloon and gambling den known as the "Bucket of Blood". This building still stands on the museum grounds at the Visitor Info Center on Highway 16 in Burns Lake.

Completion of the railroad in 1914 further opened up the area to mining and  forestry. The railroad created a steady demand for railroad ties. This was the beginning of commercial forestry activities in the region. Burns Lake  became a center for the "tie hackers", independent loggers, many  of whom settled in the area permanently.

Information & Emergency

Burns Lake Info Center at 540 W Highway 16, 250-692-3773.

Emergency: Police - 692-7171; Fire - 692-3555; Ambulance - 692-7445; Hospital - 741 Center St. 692-3181.

Hotels in Burns Lake

Burns Lake Motor Inn Box 1135, Burns Lake V0J 1E0 corner of Highway  16 and 35. 250-692-7545

Lakeland Inn Box 290 Highway 16, Burns LakeV0J 1E0, 250-692-7771


Husky Oil -  Hwy. 16 & Government St. 250-692-3413. Gas, diesel, propane, towing, tire and vehicle repair.

Things To Do in Burns Lake

The local lakes and wilderness areas offer many opportunities for fishing, boating, hiking photography, wildlife viewing, and camping. Recreational facilities include a library, ski club, two nine hole golf courses and tennis courts. Churches of all denominations are represented.

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