November 10th, 2018

Wanting to learn more about all the communities in the school district I am presently working in, sd91 (Nechako lakes), it was time to explore Fort St. James. Our Superintendent and Director of Instruction both live in Fort St. James but I haven’t seen either in Burns Lake yet.  We set off from Burns Lake on a beautiful morning heading mostly east towards Prince George passing through Fraser Lake, and Fort Fraser. Just prior to Vanderhoof you leave highway 16 and head north on highway 27. The trip is nearly 2 hours and 175 km. There are signs to discover the Fort St. James National Historic Site and learn about the history of Canada’s fur trade. However, this historic site is only open in the tourist (summer) season.

Fort St. James is located adjacent to beautiful lakes and mountains. It is a very interesting location because, as a newcomer to the town, the contradiction between colonial  and First People’s histories is pretty clearly exemplified. As listed in hellobc information online “Fort St. James was established by explorer Simon Fraser in 1806 for the North West Company, the site was dubbed “the Siberia of the Fur Trade” because of its harsh winters. Today, Fort St. James national Historic Site is reconstructed to the year 1896, and it includes a re-created Hudson’s Bay trading post.”

As we approached Fort St. James (approximately 4,500 including rural areas and First Nations reserves) we noticed physical changes– the temperature was dropping, the mountains (tall hills to Rocky mountain folks)  were increasing in size, ( there was increasing frost and snow on the ground, a loaded logging truck was sitting sideways in the ditch, yet the sun was shining and the beauty of the area was quite stunning. We stopped to walk in the snow near a bridge and listened to swans trumpet as they flew overhead. I noticed interesting animal hoof marks in the snow which I was told later were probably elk hoof marks.

We drove around the community and the enormous lake that actual looked like the ocean as the waves lapped on the shore! Right next to one of the reserves was the Fort St. James historical site. You drive through the reserve to access the parking lot! Ironic! Usually it is closed, but the gates were open as somebody was doing repairs. So Mark and I got to walk around the site. There was snow on the ground and the wind from the lake was bitter cold. I can only imagine what it would feel like during -30 degree weather here.

According to the lowest recorded temperature in Fort St. James was -49.4C! OMG!  But…It sure is gorgeous 🙂 There is a ski hill here and lots of outdoor (especially winter) recreational activities.

Watch out for slippery roads and large wild animals! And bring your camera!