Quesnel is located on BC Highway 97, approximately 70 miles south of Prince George and 74 miles north of Williams Lake, at the confluence of the Fraser and Quesnel rivers.
Visitor Information: At Quesnel Museum and Visitor Centre, west side of Highway 97 in Le Bourdais Park at the south entrance to town.
Quesnel (pronounced kwe NEL) began as a supply town for miners during the Cariboo gold rush in the 1860s. The city was named after the Quesnel River, which was named after fur trader Jules Maurice Quesnel, a member of Simon Fraser’s 1808 expedition down the Fraser River. Today, forestry is the dominant economic force in Quesnel, which has pulp mills, a plywood plant, sawmills, planer mills and an MDF plant. Explorer Alexander Mackenzie also left his mark here. Mackenzie, the first white man to cross the North American continent, left Lake Athabaska in 1793 to find a trade route to the Pacific. His journey took 72 days through 1,200 miles/2,000 km of unmapped territory. The 260-mile/420-km trail blazed by explorer Alexander Mackenzie from Quesnel has been retraced and restored in a joint federal, provincial and regional project. The land trail terminates near Burnt Creek bridge on the Chilcotin Highway.
Visitor services include food, gas, lodging and camping. Quesnel has major-chain hotels/motels, numerous restaurants and fast-food outlets, gas stations, shopping malls and campgrounds.
- Quesnel & District Museum and Archives has farming, logging and mining exhibits plus Mandy, the “haunted doll.” One of British Columbia top 10 museums.
- Quesnel Farmers Markets features dozens of vendors selling the fresh veggies, fruits, flowers, honey, bedding plants, herbs and more. Saturdays, May to Oct.
- Stop by the Forestry Industry Observatory on Highway 97 at the north end of town.
- Take a walk along Quesnel’s scenic Riverfront Park trail system. Cross the world’s longest wooden truss walking bridge over the Fraser River. Heritage Corner near the Quesnel footbridge displays historic artifacts from Quesnel’s past.
- See hoodoo formations and scenic canyon views at nearby Pinnacles Provincial Park.
- Billy Barker Days, held the third full weekend in July, commemorates the discovery of gold at Barkerville in 1862. Held in conjunction with the Quesnel Rodeo, Billy Barker Days is the third largest outdoor family festival in the province.
- Take Highway 26 to Wells, Bowron Lake and Barkerville Provincial Historic Park, a reconstructed and restored Cariboo gold rush town. Barkerville is one of the province’s major attractions.