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BC's Northern Capital: Prince George


 

Now I know that I am biased because I live in Prince George, but I really do love this town.

Our town mascot (pictured above) is Mr.PG and he has been our towns mascot since 1960. He sometimes changes his clothing and his flags are constantly changing depending on what's happening in town. Situated at the intersection of Hwy 16 and Hwy 97.

 

History

Prince George was established in 1807 by Simon Fraser as a fur trading post Fort George, which was situated on both the Fraser and Nechako Rivers. The post was centered in the centuries-old homeland of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation, whose very name means "people of the confluence of the two rivers." Finally on March 6, 1915 the City of Prince George was incorporated.

Pictured Above: The city of PG in 1914, the big building at the center is the PG hotel.

With the onset of the World War I in 1914, the local economy was devastated as many local men enlisted and the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway was halted, creating a massive drop in population, a problem that was exacerbated by the ensuing Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Prince George persevered through the 1920s and the Great Depression of the 1930s and did not experience any significant growth until World War II when an army camp was built at the foot of Cranbrook Hill, bringing new life to the struggling businesses and service industries.

Army Camp Prince George was opened during WWII and once housed 6,000 soldiers. From March 1942 – October 1943, divisional troops and units of the 16th Infantry Brigade (8th Canadian Infantry Division) were housed there. The camp was located in the area of Cranbrook Hill. Barracks were built to house the soldiers, dining halls constructed to feed them, and wet canteens for their leisure and entertainment. There were rifle ranges, mortar ranges and artillery ranges. The camp closed at the end of the war. Most of the buildings were either demolished or moved to new locations, although some remain in their original locations, such as the former transportation building on 15th Avenue, that was used by the British Columbia Forestry Service from the late 1940s to 1963. It is now owned by the City of Prince George for use by the Community Arts Council. The Nechako Bottle Depot on First Avenue is also another former camp building. Others include the first Overwaitea store, at Victoria and Third, formerly a barracks and the original civic centre, which was the old drill shed, was removed and rebuilt on Seventh Avenue.

After the war, as the ravaged European cities rebuilt, the demand for lumber skyrocketed and Prince George, with its abundance of sawmills and spruce trees, prospered. Finally, in 1952, after 40 years of construction, the Pacific Great Eastern was completed and joined with the CN line at Prince George, and with the completion of Highways 16 and 97, Prince George finally fulfilled George Hammond’s long ago promise of being the hub of British Columbia.

 

Education

Prince George's education system encompasses 40 anglophone elementary schools, eight secondary schools, and eight private schools. The anglophone public schools are all part of School District 57 Prince George. It is also home to a public francophone elementary and secondary school, both of which are part of School District 93 Conseil scolaire francophone, a province-wide francophone school district. Prince George is also home to Guardian Aerospace Flight School.

Our town is home to 2 post-secondary schools. The University of Northern British Columbia and The College of New Caledonia.

University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC): "Located in the spectacular landscape of northern British Columbia, UNBC is one of Canada’s best small universities. We have a passion for teaching, discovery, people, the environment, and the north. UNBC provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate learning opportunities that explore cultures, health, economies, and the environment. As one of BC’s research-intensive universities, we bring the excitement of new knowledge to all of our students, and the outcomes of our teaching and research to the world. In addition to fostering and celebrating academic excellence, UNBC is a welcoming place, with a learning environment that is friendly, inclusive, and supportive. UNBC is a university both in and for the north, and this mission has instilled a strong sense of ownership, purpose, and adventure among our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the communities we serve. We are also Canada’s Green University™ , leading the way to a more sustainable future for all." Taken right from the UNBC website

College of New Caledonia (CNC): "The College of New Caledonia has played an important role in training and educating residents in northern B.C. since 1969. We serve an area that is approximately 117,500 square kilometers, or 12% of the province. Our campuses in Prince George, Quesnel, Mackenzie, Vanderhoof, Fort St. James and Burns Lake are particularly reactive to the needs of the communities they serve. CNC university studies students can easily take advantage of 15 agreements with 10 universities in B.C., Alberta and elsewhere, allowing them to easily transfer into the third year of degree programs. CNC offers more than 70 programs in health sciences, trades and technologies, social services, business and university studies and is an integral part of what makes CNC a great place to learn. CNC provides affordable tuition, practical, hands-on learning and no more than 37 students in a class, which makes it easier for students to achieve their goals. In as little as 10 months, students can acquire the skills they need for a long-lasting, stable and successful career.Our university studies students can easily take advantage of 15 agreements with 10 universities in B.C., Alberta and elsewhere, allowing them to easily transfer into the third year of degree programs. CNC constructed two new trades and technology centers at its Prince George and Quesnel campuses in 2011, worth more than $30 million. CNC provides Red Seal trades training across all of our campuses. The availability of trades programs are subject to location and include welding, machinist, millwright, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, heavy duty mechanics, auto-body, power engineering, professional cook and more." Taken right from the CNC website

 

Geography

Prince George is located in the Fraser-Fort George

Regional District near the transition between the northern and southern portions of the Rocky Mountain Trench. Prince George proper contains several areas: South Fort George, the Hart, the residential and light industrial neighborhoods north of the Nechako River; College Heights, the southern part of the city which contains a mix of residential and commercial areas, and the Bowl, the valley that includes most of the city and the downtown. There are also a number of outlying localities that are also part of Prince George. The cut-banks of the Nechako River are one of Prince George's many interesting geological features.

Local wild edible fruit include bunch-berries, rose hips, blueberries, huckleberries, cranberries, chokecherries, strawberries, raspberries, saskatoons, currants, gooseberries, and soap-berries (from which "Indian ice cream" is made). Morel mushrooms are also native to this area.

 

Annual Events

  • The British Columbia Northern Exhibition, also known as the BCNE, started in 1912 and is the city's largest summer event. The four-day show was known as the Prince George Exhibition or PGX until 2012 when the name was changed as part of 100th anniversary celebrations. The BCNE is held each August and attractions include a large midway, food fair, trade show, art and horticulture exhibitions, 4-H exhibitions, firefighter competitions and many other events.

  • The Forestry and Resources Expo began in 1985 to educate the public about the importance of forests to the city and region, while displaying the latest in forestry technology, supplies and services. The Expo was revamped in 2013 and renamed the Canada North Resources Expo to reflect a focus on the wide range of sectors that impact the economy in Prince George and Northern British Columbia including forestry, oil & gas, mining, independent power producers, the biomass industry and transportation.

  • Downtown Summerfest was revived by the Downtown Business Improvement Association in 2012 and is held every August. The street party takes place in downtown Prince George and features entertainment, vendors, activities for children and a Taste Pavilion featuring food from local restaurants.

  • The Prince George Cold-snap Festival (formerly known as the Prince George Folk Festival) is a national folk music festival held annually in the winter at various venues throughout Prince George. Past artists have included John Denver, Bruce Cockburn, Sarah Harmer, Janis Ian, Alpha Ya Ya Diallo. 2006 saw Matthew Good, Fred Eaglesmith, The Paperboys, and many others. Local musicians include: The Goat Island Extrapolation, and Shae Morin.

  • The Snow Daze Winter Festival is held each February. Some of the featured events include the Mr. PG pageant, curling, bed races, OTL (over the line) baseball, Texas hold'em poker tournament and snow golf.

  • Prince George celebrates BC River's Day on the last Sunday in September at Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park with a live free music festival. Performers in 2006 included Marcel Gagnon and Fear Zero among many others.

  • The Father's Day Show and Shine is held in Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park and features vendors, live performers and both vintage and modern cars. 2007's event saw an estimated 25,000 visitors and 365 cars were on display.

  • The Prince George Iceman Multi-sport race takes place, usually the 2nd week of February. This event starts with an 8 km ski,then a 10 km run, a 5 km ice skate, a 5 km run and then wraps up with an 800m swim(indoors). This event has been happening since 1988. Participants can compete as individuals, or on teams of 2-5. Junior teams can compete in a slightly modified course, a shorter ski and swim and the 15 km run is broken into 3 segments instead of 2.

 

Places To Visit

Ancient Forest: The watershed of the upper Fraser River has given rise to a unique inland wet-temperate rainforest; a forest ecosystem that combines attributes of both the coastal wet-temperate rainforests of British Columbia and adjacent boreal forests of Alberta and the far north.The Ancient Forest Trail provides an opportunity to view enormous ancient cedar trees within BC's inland rainforest. The trail is an easy-moderate hike marked with interpretative signage, and is home to a beautiful waterfall. A 400m portion of the trail is a universal access boardwalk. It leaves the parking lot, goes through incredible cedar trees and other vegetation before ending at a small stream.In 2016, 11, 190 ha of the Ancient Forest was designated as a Class A Provincial Park and given an additional name Chun T’oh Whudujut.

LC Gunn Park: LC Gunn Park is an easy grade walkway exploring the bluffs above the Fraser River located in the community of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. The forested 3.5 kilometer trail follows the same route traveled by the early surveyors when planning out the railway line for the railroad companies.The hiking and biking trail follows a mostly pine needle cushioned route through a thinly spaced forest. The trail meanders through the trees leading to various viewpoints looking out over the city and out over Fraser River. The public access viewpoints located along the cutbacks are fenced, keeping people from the edge. Please do not wander off the trail for views as the bluff is dangerous and sometimes unstable.This trailhead starts east of the Yellowhead Bridge and follows the cutbanks of the Fraser River to Hwy 97. At a casual walk the trail should take no longer than a half day on foot. The route is used also by dog walkers, joggers and mountain bikers.

Forests for the World: Forests for the World is a 106 hectare demonstration forest with 15 (8.5 mi.) kilometres of hiking trails located in the heart of Prince George, BC, Canada. The park, established in 1986, enables adventurers to learn about the various forest eco-systems and the flora and fauna that thrive in the Fraser - Nechako Plateau region.Over the years thousands of spruce, pine and Douglas fir trees have been planted throughout the park. Some areas have been left in their natural state for regeneration. Both methods of reforestation provide an opportunity to view the difference between a natural and a managed forest.The main trail to Shane Lake is very well maintained and frequently travelled. At Shane Lake there are many amenities to ensure a good time. There are picnic tables, a picnic shelter, a BBQ pit, fire pits, pit toilets, a viewing platform and two fishing docks.

Ft. St. James: Founded by the North West Company explorer and fur trader Simon Fraser in 1806, it came under the management of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821 with the forced merger of the two battling fur companies. Also known historically as Stuart Lake Post, it is one of British Columbia's oldest permanent European settlements and was the administrative centre for the Hudson's Bay Company's New Caledonia fur district. The fort, rebuilt four times, continued as an important trading post well into the twentieth century. Now the fort is a National Historic Site of Canada with some buildings dating to the 1880s.

Barkerville: Unlike many gold rush towns from this era - which have long disappeared - Barkerville remains a thriving place, rich in history and full of life. You can tour the town with one of the colorful characters from Barkerville’s past, watch the notorious Judge Begbie strike fear into the hearts of history’s criminals, witness authentic gold rush theater, and see a real Cornish Waterwheel in action. Pan for gold with your family and friends, visit Barkerville’s well preserved Chinatown, and go back to school in the 1800s. Stay in one of three bed and breakfasts located within the Barkerville town-site and enjoy food from restaurants or cafes in buildings from a previous era.

Huble Homestead: The Huble Homestead is a living historic site that offers tours of heritage buildings such as the Huble House, Salmon Valley Post Office, and the Animal Shelter. Visit replicas of the original General Store, Trapper's Cabin, Barns, Blacksmith Shop and the First Nations Fish Camp; all aspects of the site represent a time in our history that the Huble Homestead/Giscome Portage Heritage Society has proudly preserved on behalf of our community, our heritage, and our history.

 

So now that I have explained all about my town I hope you do research on your own, find some places that you would love to see. If you would like me to go more in-depth on any of the places to visit or even on Prince George itself, feel free to send me a message and I can certainly help you.

 

See you next time :)

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