Nestled in an ancient floodplain in the picturesque northern foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Chetwynd was known as Little Prairie when the first European settlers arrived in the area in 1912.
After the establishment of the Pacific Great East Railway, the town name was changed to Chetwynd in honour of the late Ralph Chetwynd, a provincial Highways Minister and one of the town’s founding fathers.
Chetwynd was incorporated in 1962 and is a member municipality of the Peace River Regional District. Chetwynd has a cool continental climate, including cold winters and warm summers, experiencing long daylight hours in summer and short daylight hours in winter.
The beauty of The Little Prairie Valley captures the hearts of residents and visitors alike. This is a land of fertile valleys, great lakes and rivers, jagged mountain ranges and snow-capped peaks.
This busy, friendly little town is a centre for forestry, farming, oil and gas, and tourism. Chetwynd is the commercial centre for the rural communities of Moberly Lake, Jackfish Lake, Lone Prairie, and the Pine River Valley.
Location: Chetwynd is located on Highway 97 at the junction of Highway 29 that runs north from Tumbler Ridge via Hudsons Hope to Alaska. Chetwynd is 100 km (65 miles) west of Dawson Creek and 310 km (193 miles) north of Prince George.
The Little Prairie Heritage Museum is located in a 1949 post office building on the hill two kilometres west of town. Displays include antique quilts, trapping and farming implements, and the museum’s own caboose.
The annual Chetwynd International Chainsaw Carving Championship held in June, invites carvers from around the world who have 35 hours over 4 days to carve an 8-foot high by 3 to 4-foot wide log into a chainsaw masterpiece. Contact the Visitor Centre for more details.
Chainsaw Sculptures: A series of unique wooden chainsaw sculptures depicting indigenous Canadian animals and birds are displayed throughout the community of Chetwynd. A downtown monument declares Chetwynd as the Chainsaw Sculpture Capital of the World.
The W.A.C. Bennett Dam is celebrating 40 years! Join them for an exciting underground bus tour of one of the world’s largest earth-filled structures. They will drive right through the canyon wall that will take you to the powerhouse – 500 feet underground! Have fun with hands-on science exhibits and learn how electricity is made. Tours of the underground powerhouse are available (first tour leaves at 10:30am and the last at 4:30pm). Free admission. Fee applies for underground bus tours. Hours: 10am to 6pm daily from May 17 to September 1. Located on Canyon Drive, 21 km west of Hudsons Hope.
Behind the W.A.C. Bennett Dam is Williston Lake, the largest man-made lake in North America, offering excellent fishing and fossil hunting in the surrounding area.
The Peace Canyon Dam site tells the story of the Peace Canyon dating back to the time of the dinosaur. Two life-sized models of the Hadrosaur Dinosaur, fossils, and photos tell this story in the visitor centre. At the time that the Peace Canyon Dam was built their units were the largest in the world! Free Admission. Seasonal Hours: 8am to 4pm daily from May 17 to September 1 – guided tours available. Off-Season Hours: 8am to 4pm weekdays only – self-guided tours only.
Stroll up to Old Baldy Hill in the middle of Chetwynd, and overlook the whole town and valley. The community forest on Mount Baldy provides trails for walking, hiking, cycling, and cross-country skiing.
Hiking: Chetwynd has numerous hiking trails ranging from easy-going forest walks to more challenging mountainous trails.
Golf: Chetwynd offers two golf courses, with wonderful views of lakes and mountains: the 9-hole Moberly Lake & District Golf Club on Highway 29, and the 9-hole Natural Springs Golf Resort on Highway 29 in the Sukunka Valley, 15km South of Chetwynd.
Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Powder King Mountain Resort, 100 km southwest of Chetwynd next to the Pine Pass Summit on Highway 97, offers world-class skiing and some of the best powder in the province. The slopes have a vertical rise of 2,100 feet, an average annual snowfall of over 4 feet of powder, and favour the intermediate-level skier. There are 18 runs serviced by a chairlift, 2 T-bars and a platter tow.
Skiing & Winter Activities in the North East.
Snowmobiling: Chetwynd offers deep powder, challenging slopes and virgin territory for sledding. Enjoy the quite solitude of the forest or the exhilaration of the wide open throttle on an untouched alpine meadow. Don’t miss the annual Snowmobile Hill Climb.
Canoeing: Ready for a paddling adventure? The Murray River Canoe Route encompasses over 50 km of canoeing, and offers a fantastic experience. For a shorter trip suitable for novice canoeists, the Murray River from Kinuseo Falls to Tumbler Ridge can be paddled in a few hours or a few days, depending on where you put in and how fast you paddle. You will need someone to drop you off and pick you up, or leave a vehicle at the end. Another popular put-in point is at East Pine Provincial Park, where the East Pine River flows into the Murray River, 25 km east of Chetwynd.
Gwillim Lake Provincial Park is a scenic wilderness park, midway between Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge, on Highway 29, with campsites offering all the normal facilities and outdoor activities. Dolly Varden, mountain whitefish, arctic grayling and northern pike await the angler on the deep, blue, and cold Gwillim Lake. People with high metabolisms will find a dip in the lake refreshing; others will find it bone-chilling. More adventurous types can follow the maintained hiking trails that lead around the lake, and deeper into the park, either as a day hike or as a short backpacking trek.
Head south to Tumbler Ridge, the gateway to the unspoilt wilderness of Monkman Provincial Park, a wilderness jewel for those who appreciate the rugged beauty of nature. Up until a few years ago, just getting to Monkman was as big an adventure as exploring the park itself. It’s a popular spot for camping and hiking, and keep your camera handy, as the park is teeming with wildlife, including elk, deer, moose, mountain goats, stone’s sheep, caribou, grizzly and black bear. Follow the trails to the spectacular Kinuseo Falls, one of the most outstanding features in the park.
Bijoux Falls Provincial Park is a small day-use park with picnic tables, situated where the Misinshinka River plummets 40 metres through a spruce forest. The park provides a view of the cascading Bijoux Falls, with excellent photography opportunities and a pleasant highway rest stop. In the summer season, there is a large population of Steller Jays.
Moberly Lake Provincial Park is a popular swimming spot, and home to the mythical monster, Moberly Dick. Located 25 km north of Chetwynd on the south shore of Moberly Lake, the park boasts campsites for overnighting, as well as the usual variety of water-related activities. Moberly is a popular getaway for residents and visitors alike, but there are usually a few camping spaces open for latecomers on all but the busiest weekends. A lakeside cairn to fur trader Henry John Moberly records his discovery of the lake in 1865.
East Pine Provincial Park is situated near the junction of the East Pine and Murray Rivers in the foothills of the northern Rocky Mountains, providing visitors with a boat launch and fishing, canoeing and boating recreation.
From Chetwynd travellers can follow the scenic highway north to Hudsons Hope. The museum in Hudson’s Hope features the finest fossil collection in the area – check out the 11,600-year-old mammoth tusk.
Southwest of Chetwynd at the end of Highway 29 is the wilderness haven of Tumbler Ridge, nestled in the foothills of the Rocky and Hart Ranges. Before Tumbler Ridge was built in the early 1980s to service the Northeast Coal Project, the current townsite was still the home of grizzly and black bears, deer, elk and moose, and the only buildings were trapper’s cabins.
Circle Tours: See the best of Northern BC on one of the Circle Tours that capture the wonders of the north. The Circle Tour of Northern British Columbia incorporates the Alaska Highway through the Rocky Mountain foothills to Watson Lake in the Yukon, linking with the Stewart/Cassiar Highway and Yellowhead Highway 16 in the south. The Inside Passage Circle Tour and the Native Heritage Circle Tour follow the same route, from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island north by ferry to Prince Rupert. Catch another ferry to the Queen Charlotte Islands, or venture east on the Yellowhead Highway to Prince George, and south through the peaceful Cariboo to Vancouver along the historic Cariboo Wagon Road.
Circle Tours in British Columbia.