Burns Lake is a rural village in the North-western-Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada, incorporated in 1923. The village had a population of 1,659 as of the 2021 Census.[5]

Burns Lake
The Corporation of the Village of Burns Lake[1]
Downtown 2011
Downtown 2011
Burns Lake is located in British Columbia
Burns Lake
Burns Lake
Location of Burns Lake in British Columbia
Coordinates: 54°13′45″N 125°45′45″W / 54.22917°N 125.76250°W / 54.22917; -125.76250
ProvinceBritish Columbia
RegionNechako Country
Regional districtBulkley-Nechako
 • TypeMunicipal
 • Governing bodyBurns Lake Village Council
 • Mayor[3]Henry Wiebe
 • Councillors[4]Darrell Hill
Kevin White
Charlie Rensby
Kristy Bjarnson
 • Total6.59 km2 (2.54 sq mi)
 • Land6.59 km2 (2.54 sq mi)
 • Water0.00 km2 (0.00 sq mi)
720 m (2,360 ft)
 • Total1,659[2]
 • Density269.8/km2 (699/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−08:00 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−07:00 (PDT)
Area code250
HighwayBritish Columbia Highway 16
WaterwaysBurns Lake
WebsiteVillage of Burns Lake
Burns Lake's welcome sign

The village is known for its rich First Nations heritage, and for its network of mountain biking trails, which have received acclaim by becoming Canada's first IMBA Ride Centre.[6] In winter, cross country skiing trails and snowmobile wilderness trails are created.[7] Burns Lake is located in the midst of a large networks of lakes called the Lakes District, with fishing and hunting year round, and water activities in the summer months.

There are two First Nations reserves that are part of the town, and another four nearby, making it one of the few communities in the province that have almost equal populations of persons of native or European descent. Local nations include Wetʼsuwetʼen First Nation, Lake Babine Nation, Cheslatta Carrier Nation, Ts'il Kaz Koh First Nation, Skin Tyee First Nation and Nee-Tahi-Buhn Band.

The town serves as a hub for the local logging, saw-milling, mining and tourist industries. It also serves as the main commercial centre for the surrounding area including François Lake, Colleymount, Grassy Plains, Rose Lake, Topley, and Granisle. There are three pubs, several cafes and restaurants a selection of stores, hotels and motels, and services including a library and a hospital. It is also the location of the head offices of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.

History edit

Burns Lake's first inhabitants were the Carrier First Nations communities that spanned much of the Lakes District and beyond.

Burns Lake itself began as a small rest stop for travellers on their way to the Yukon Gold Rush. Many of these travellers spotted opportunity in the rich forestry, fur, and mining opportunities in Burns Lake and the surrounding area.

Burns Lake acquired its name after Michael Byrnes, who was an explorer for the Collins Overland Telegraph scheme. Byrnes passed Burns lake in about 1866 while surveying a route from Fort Fraser to Hagwilget.[8]: 33  Recent research indicates that Byrnes was also a miner during the Cariboo Gold Rush and had staked a claim on William's Creek earlier, in 1861. On the 1866 trail map of the area, the name 'Byrnes' Lake appears; after 1876 however, the maps indicate it as Burns Lake.[9]

Bob Gerow, one of the main founders of Burns Lake, entered into partnership with Jack Seely and Howard Laidlaw to create Burns Lake Trading Company. Together, they built a store/hotel and a sawmill on Gerow Island, which would become the hub of trade for the surrounding area.[10] The Village was incorporated on December 6, 1923. The first Mayor was G. M Gerow.

The first newspaper in Burns Lake was called the Observer, published and edited by Sidney Godwin. In the late 1950s, another newspaper, also called the Observer, was operated by Ralph Vipond. It closed in 1961.

The town continued to grow throughout the 20th century, despite damage suffered in an earthquake in August 1963. Its current industries have become forestry and tourism, though many workers commute to jobs in the mining industry.

Burns Lake received nationwide attention on January 20, 2012, when an explosion destroyed Babine Forest Products, a wood mill which was one of the town's primary employers.[11]

The village of Burns Lake is infamous within the trucking and commercial transportation industries for its narrow, twisting main road which makes the transportation of large loads to adjacent communities difficult and sometimes impossible. Despite numerous unanswered complaints and appeals, the British Columbia Highway 16 remains throttled.

A number of historic buildings still stand including:

The Old Hospital edit

First built in 1931 by the Women's Missionary Society of the United Church of Canada. Once the largest and finest public buildings between Prince George and Prince Rupert, it was famous for its fine gardens. It was later occupied by a senior citizens apartment complex, then declared a heritage building in 1982 and redeveloped as an office building by its owner, the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation.

The Bucket of Blood edit

Located adjacent to the Lakes District Museum, this square-cut log building is a former fur trade post which later became a gambling den. Due to the nature of gambling, fights broke out in the building, earning its name. It now contains a display of historical artifacts from the life of Barney Mulvaney, one of the founders of Burns Lake.

Bucket of Blood
Early morning mist on Burns Lake

Geography edit

Climate edit

Burns Lake has a subarctic climate (Dfc,) although it is on the borderline of a humid continental climate. It has short warm summers and cold winters. Average winter snowfall is approximately 190 cm (74.8 in).

In June 1982 Burns Lake recorded 376.5 hours of sunshine. This is most sunshine ever recorded in British Columbia during the month of June.[12][citation needed]

Climate data for Burns Lake
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high humidex 11.0 10.0 14.4 24.5 37.6 34.4 35.9 37.4 29.5 25.0 14.3 10.8 37.6
Record high °C (°F) 11.0
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) −5.7
Daily mean °C (°F) −10.5
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −15.3
Record low °C (°F) −46.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 41.1
Average rainfall mm (inches) 5.1
Average snowfall cm (inches) 42.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 13.6 11.1 11.0 8.0 12.6 14.4 12.3 12.0 12.5 13.8 13.9 13.2 148.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 57.0 94.1 138.7 190.4 233.8 242.7 267.5 242.3 155.1 105.7 52.0 43.9 1,823.2
Source: Environment Canada[13]

Demographics edit

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Burns Lake had a population of 1,659 living in 689 of its 765 total private dwellings, a change of -6.7% from its 2016 population of 1,779. With a land area of 6.54 km2 (2.53 sq mi), it had a population density of 253.7/km2 (657.0/sq mi) in 2021.[14]

Religion edit

According to the 2021 census, religious groups in Burns Lake included:[15]

Transportation edit

Burns Lake is located on Highway 16. Major commercial airlines fly into Smithers Airport, which is approximately 150 km (93 mi) west of Burns Lake, as well as Prince George Airport which is approximately 230 km (140 mi) east of Burns Lake.

Via Rail's Jasper–Prince Rupert train calls at the Burns Lake station several times per week.

BC Bus has the bus service through the area twice a week. Alternatively, there is a BC Transit bus which operated between Prince George and Smithers throughout the week.

A free ferry is available to cross Francois Lake which is directly south of Burns Lake. The ferry is used frequently to get to Grassy Plains.

Education edit

  • Lakes District Secondary School - Public High school Grades 8-12
  • Murial Mould Learning Centre - Public Youth Education Centre
  • William Konkin Elementary School - Public Elementary School Grades K-7
  • Decker Lake Elementary School - Public Elementary School Grades K-7
  • Grassy Plains Elementary School - Public Elementary School Grades K-10
  • Francois Lake Elementary Secondary School - Public Elementary/Secondary School K-7
  • College of New Caledonia - Public Adult Learning facility

Culture edit

Burns Lake is surrounded by a rich First Nations culture. There are six First Nations Groups in the area:

The Lakes District Arts Council[21] holds several arts events every year, bringing in acts from all over the globe with a variety of different types of performances including, music, theatre, and a variety of other performances.

Burns Lake hosts annual Performing Arts and Alternative Arts Festivals, drawing talent and audiences from across the region. Burns Lake also hosts an annual Aboriginal Day Celebration (the second largest in the province) which draws people from around the region and an annual Canada Day Celebration, each of which have celebratory parades.[22]

Recreation edit

Free exercise equipment in Spirit Square
One of the many trails in Burns Lake

Burns Lake has gained world renown from the International Mountain Biking Association for its network of trails on Boer Mountain. The trails, maintained by a volunteer group called the Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association,[23] includes 23 km (14 mi) of downhill and 40 km (25 mi) of cross country trails. The trails continue to draw mountain bikers from all over the world and are expanding every season. In the winter months cross country skiing is popular at the Omineca Ski Club. Its facilities have hosted several national championships.[citation needed] The facilities include 25 km of groomed trails, four km of which are lit for nighttime skiing. There is also a facility for biathlon skiing.

In 2014 The Village of Burns Lake completed work on the Lakeside Multiplex and renovations to the Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena. This facility includes a hockey rink, curling rink, rock climbing gym, a squash/racquetball court, a fitness facility, and multi-use rooms. The facility is located on Spirit Square, a large outdoor park with a playground, a beach, a walking path, outdoor fitness equipment, two tennis courts, and a skateboard park.

The 1.9 kilometre Opal Bed Trail leads to an active rock hounding destination, where users can look for precious minerals.[24]

Burns Lake is considered to be the gateway to Tweedsmuir North Provincial Park and Protected Area. (The North Park is a wilderness area with no services or supplies; it cannot be accessed by road.[25]) Fly-in tours for sightseeing, hunting and fishing are offered by local outfitters.[26]

Notable residents edit

Further reading edit

The book Unmarked: Landscapes Along Highway 16, written by Sarah de Leeuw, includes a short essay on Burns Lake titled "Screamed on a Fence, Beside a Passing Train". Climate

References edit

  1. ^ "British Columbia Regional Districts, Municipalities, Corporate Name, Date of Incorporation and Postal Address" (XLS). British Columbia Ministry of Communities, Sport and Cultural Development. Archived from the original on July 13, 2014. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  2. ^ "2021 Census of Population geographic summary: Burns Lake, Village (VL)". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2023-07-12.
  3. ^ "Burns Lake - Municipal Office — Biographies".
  4. ^ "Burns Lake - Municipal Office — Biographies".
  5. ^ http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2021/search-recherche/productresults-resultatsproduits-eng.cfm?LANG=E&GEOCODE=2021A00055951022
  6. ^ "Where to ride | IMBA".
  7. ^ "Welcome to Burns Lake". The Village of Burns Lake. The Village of Burns Lake. 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2017. During the winter, Olympic quality cross-country skiing trails and facilities draw in competitors and recreational skiers from across the province. Snowshoe enthusiasts can follow in their tracks too. Additionally, Burns Lake is a snowmobiler's paradise, with vast wilderness trails near town.
  8. ^ Akrigg, G.P.V.; Akrigg, Helen B. (1986), British Columbia Place Names (3rd, 1997 ed.), Vancouver: UBC Press, ISBN 0-7748-0636-2
  9. ^ Guenter, Kerry (November 23, 2011). "The life and times of gold miner; Michael Byrnes". BC Local News. Blackpress. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved January 27, 2017. Lohn Clayton White was the cartographer and artist for the Collins Overland Telegraph and would have applied the names to his 1866 map of the trail. Byrnes Lake, which appeared on maps after 1876 as Burns Lake, was the third feature named after Byrnes.
  10. ^ Burns Lake Historical Society, "Burns Lake & District" D.W. Friesen and Sons Ltd, Calgary Alberta, 1973.
  11. ^ "B.C. mill explosion near Burns Lake leaves 19 injured, many unaccounted for". National Post, January 21, 2012.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-14. Retrieved 2013-02-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Environment CanadaCanadian Climate Normals 1971-2000 Station Data, accessed 26 April 2018
  14. ^ "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), British Columbia". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  15. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2023-03-12.
  16. ^ "Burns Lake Band (Ts'il Kaz Koh First Nation)". Archived from the original on 2020-04-03. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
  17. ^ Cheslatta Carrier Nation
  18. ^ "Lake Babine Nation". Archived from the original on 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
  19. ^ Nee Tahi Buhn
  20. ^ Skin Tyee
  21. ^ The Lakes District Arts Council
  22. ^ "Burns Lake". Super.Natural British Columbia. Destination BC Corp. 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved January 27, 2017. The community hosts numerous festivals and events
  23. ^ Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association
  24. ^ http://www.northbceh.com/burns_lake/parks/opal/[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "Tweedsmuir Provincial Park - North and Tweedsmuir Corridor Protected Area". BC Parks. BC Parks. 2017. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  26. ^ "British Columbia Travel Guide - Burns Lake". BC Travel & Tourism. BC Travel & Tourism. 2017. Retrieved January 28, 2017. Burns Lake lays at the bottom of the Bulkley Basin next to the largest Provincial Park in British Columbia - Tweedsmuir Park and the smallest - Deadman's Island Provincial Park

External links edit