Located in Northern BC at the geographical centre of British Columbia, the Stuart Nechako is home to miles and miles of historic trade routes and trails, over 500 pristine lakes, and spectacular river valley views.
Stuart Nechako includes the communities of Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Fort Fraser, and Fraser Lake, situated along or off Highway 16 west of Prince George.
The area is rich in First Nations history, as the Carrier Indians pioneered the land in this area long before the first white man arrived. An ancient Carrier Indian village known as Chinlac lies just a few miles east of Vanderhoof, on the junction of the Nechako and Stuart Rivers.
The pioneer roots of the area’s history date back to the fur trade, with the establishment of a fur-trading post at Fort Fraser near the east end of Fraser Lake by Simon Fraser in 1806. Simon Fraser’s diary relates that he was the first white man to trade with the people of the Chinlac.
The word Nechako derives from the Carrier Indian word meaning big river, and Stuart Lake was named in honour of John Stuart of the North West Company, who wintered in the area in 1806/7. Stuart was one of the two clerks who accompanied explorer Simon Fraser on his famous journey down what is now named the Fraser River. In 1809 Stuart succeeded Fraser in the command of the New Caledonia District. He became a partner in the Northwest Company in 1813 and a Chief Factor in the Hudson’s Bay Company, after the merger between the HBC and NWC in 1821.
The Stuart River was the exploration route of Simon Fraser and the travel route of the New Caledonia fur trade canoe brigades. Paddlewheelers plied the rivers (circa 1900) to supply Fort St. James and other fur trading outposts. Today, riverboats guide visitors along the river from the Sturgeon Point Road or from Fort St. James.
There are many outstanding opportunities for those seeking winter adventure. Whether you are cross-country skiing down an ancient Carrier trade route, snowmobiling along a gold rush pack trail, or ice fishing on one of the many lakes, the Stuart Nechako region will provide a fulfilling winter experience.
Location: Stuart Nechako is located in Northern BC, west of the city of Prince George. The communities of Vanderhoof, Fort Fraser and Fraser Lake are situated on Yellowhead Highway 16, the road to Prince Rupert on the west coast, while Fort St. James is on Stuart Lake to the north.
Fort St. James
Fort St. James is the scenic gateway to an impressive network of lakes, rivers and mountains. The trading post of Fort St. James was originally established by the explorer Simon Fraser for the North West Company in 1806.
Vanderhoof is a rural community nestled in the fertile Nechako Valley, on the banks of the Nechako River, with plenty of ranching and logging history and lore to be explored.
Fort Fraser is one of the oldest settlements in British Columbia, located on the Yellowhead Highway west of Prince George. The pioneer roots of the area date back to the fur trade, with the establishment of a fur-trading post in 1806 by Simon Fraser.
Fraser Lake is an attractive lakeside community on the Yellowhead Highway, west of Prince George. Fraser Lake marks the eastern edge of the Lakes District, and is located in a land dotted with lakes, rivers, mountain ranges and valleys.
Murray Ridge Ski Hill near Fort St. James is open to downhill skiers and snowboarders, and is known for great powder and sunny days. Prime downhill skiing and 12 miles of cross-country trails attractive winter enthusiasts. Winter in Stuart Nechako is something to get excited about!
Beaumont Provincial Park is located on the Fraser Lake, west of Vanderhoof. It also marks the eastern edge of an area known as the Lakes District, comprising over 300 fish-filled lakes. The park provides private campsites.
Paarens Beach Provincial Park on Stuart Lake offers an endless choice of activities taking you away from the rush of modern living. Enjoy swimming, camping, and canoeing.
Sowchea Bay Provincial Park is also located on Stuart Lake, providing campsites with basic facilities.
Fishing: This truly is prime fishing country; Far enough south to grow the big fish, but not far enough south that it has been over fished. Fishing for kokanee, char, burbot, rainbow grout and even sturgeons is good in Fraser Lake. Fishing is also centred around Stuart Lake, which is a trout angler’s paradise. The Stuart River is home to sturgeon and one of the highest quality wild sockeye salmon runs in the world. In some years, up to one million salmon migrate up the river system to the spawning grounds in tributary streams and rivers north of Stuart Lake.
Wildlife: The Stuart Nechako area provides wildlife habitat for deer, moose and elk. You may also spot one of the many elusive white moose! Trumpeter swans winter in the Upper Stuart.
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.