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Tourism Prince George is pleased to present the HelloPG Community Ambassador Program. This program will give enthusiastic local ambassadors a new set of tools and skills to do what they love: making new friends and telling people about the area.
Ambassador Updates are a series of bi-weekly e-newsletters that summarize upcoming events, shows, conferences, exhibits and competitions, along with reference material for commonly requested traveller information.
Special Event Ambassadors are equipped with marked clothing, as well as guide books, maps, signage and tablets to help visitors at large events. You will get training and resources to become a local knowledge specialist and support the other volunteers at competitions, festivals, trade-shows and conferences.
Don’t be stumped for answers or caught off guard by questions like, “is the city open in the winter?” A short training session for front-line employees and event volunteers will get you caught up on city and regional tourism info, including attractions, events, trip ideas and, of course, your greatest info resource: Tourism Prince George. As a little extra, we’ll send you updates through the summer so you can deliver the fresh goods to customers and travellers (or discover something new for yourself).
Digital ambassadors are photographers, videographers, writers, Google Maps contributors, and content creators for everything online. Join our network to connect with our staff and show us what you've got. Plus, we hold meetings and workshops so you can collaborate with your peers and take projects to the next level.
The full breadth of this program is made possible through funding from the Destination British Columbia Visitor Services Innovation Fund.
For more information or to get involved, please contact Michael Stanyer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: gh sasaki, 2015 Canada Winter Games
Having recently started a family of my own, my eyes have suddenly been opened to the variety of activities that are offered in Prince George for children and families. I always knew they were there, but I’m just starting to realize their value! There is so much to do with kids in our city, and everywhere we go, people are very friendly and welcoming to all. I know Prince George is a great place to live, but what a great place to stop for a visit too! You can experience new things, show the kids some great scenery and learn some things along the way. There’s a lot to love about PG and many reasons to visit; here are just a few:
Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park
Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park is a great place for families to stop while traveling through Prince George, whether for a picnic, an afternoon walk, or a chance for the kids to burn off some energy. Accessed from 18th Avenue or 20th Avenue, just off Queensway Blvd., the park is an easy detour off Highway 97 South or Highway 16 East. There is plenty of green space for running around or spreading a blanket, as well as picnic tables and benches scattered throughout. There’s a large playground complete with swings, jungle gyms, and more. Another highlight is a kids’ waterpark for the hot days. For extra fun, extend the park visit to the Exploration Place for some science and history (see below)!
The Exploration Place
Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre, located downtown at the 20th Avenue side of Lheidli T’enneh Park, offers fun for the whole family and is a unique stop for both locals and tourists. Instead of stopping for lunch at a rest area on the side of the highway, travelers can stop here to give the kids a break, stretch and eat lunch; then the kids can visit the play area and view the science and history exhibits to sneak in some summer learning during their playtime. Try to visit the Exploration Place at a time when the Little Prince is running! This steam engine trail weaves for a couple kilometres through the park and is a delight for everyone – the young and young-at-heart! After the train ride, be sure to hop off for ice cream in the train station.
Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum
If you have a child who likes trains, the Railway and Forestry Museum, just off 1st Avenue/Highway 16 East on River Road, is a must stop attraction. The opportunity to explore will entice both kids and kids-at-heart (aka adults who still like to play). Sure, you can view trains and more models of chainsaws than you thought existed, but what makes the Railway and Forestry Museum really unique is that you can actually climb into the trains, push the buttons, and pull the levers. You won’t find many “do not touch” signs here – what a way to entertain an inquisitive kid! You can walk through the Takla coach to see where workers used to reside and eat meals, and then compare that with the classy Nechako coach, which was at Expo ’86, and where Prince Charles and Princess Diana once took their tea. The Museum has a train playground and many special events throughout the summer and beyond, such as Friends of Thomas Days and Family Day, where the Cottonwood Minitrain runs, giving kids a chance to look at the trains while riding one! Also be sure to check out the Urban Orchard: over 100 fruit trees (including haskap, blueberry and raspberry bushes), which help the museum to be self-sustainable and showcase what can be grown in PG. Some of the produce goes to the Northern Lights Winery and some goes to local shelters.
Park Drive-In Theatre
With only three drive-in theatres left in British Columbia, there aren’t very many chances to bring your kids back to “your era”; leave the iPads at home and experience a bit of history and entertainment at the Park Drive-In Theatre in Prince George. Located on Chief Lake Road (accessed off of Highway 97 North), movies on the 3200 square foot screen at the Park Drive-In Theatre run from May to September. And don’t worry about snacks – the concession offers all the classics you need for the movies, from nachos and hot dogs to candy and popcorn – yum! The park area also has go-karts and mini-golf on the weekends, so make it a full day of fun!
Perhaps because the outdoors are so beautiful and impressive here, or because sports culture and facilities are so exceptional, many people might not think of Prince George as British Columbia’s northern arts capital. Having made a life in the arts here, I can tell you confidently that it is just that, and I’m always excited to share with visitors and locals alike why I think so. The opportunities to experience and engage with professional and community arts here are hugely outsized for a regional centre.
The Prince George Symphony Orchestra is Canada’s northernmost professional orchestra, and one of the longest continuously operating professional orchestras in Canada. (Full disclosure: I am thrilled to be the PGSO’s General Manager). Every year, the PGSO hosts outstanding guest soloists from all over the country and indeed the world, but what’s really amazing is our local musicians. The orchestra has a core of highly-trained professional musicians who lead sections made up of a combination of local pro freelancers and skilled volunteers (and a few freelancers flown in from other centres to supplement key roles). All the PGSO’s professional musicians are involved in the arts community in multiple other ways; many are the music teachers who form the next generation of local talent, and all play in other musical ensembles and settings.
Theatre North West has had one of the highest per-capita subscription rates of any professional theatre company in Canada. (Full disclosure: I used to be TNW’s Marketing and Development Officer). As a member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, TNW hires professional actors, designers, and theatre artists from all over the country, creating its own teams and productions from absolute scratch every single production. I’ve often heard remarks to the effect that people are amazed that the quality at Theatre North West matches what’s available in major centres—but it should come as no surprise, not least given that TNW brings you literally the same individuals you would see onstage in those very cities, here united around a northern heart beating at the creative centre. What also surprises people all over this country is that Prince George is not just a town with a theatre, it’s truly a theatre town, whose support for TNW rivals the support shown to any professional theatre in Canada.
Two Rivers Gallery curatorial insight, exacting conservation standards, and inviting community outreach bring the city not just beautiful art of the highest quality, but lively aesthetic and intellectual challenges. I must especially applaud their commission of “Balance” by Peter Von Tiesenhausen, which stands right outside their front doors, and which is a thought-provoking and superlative sculpture that I think could be a serious contender for the next Mr. PG.
Judy Russell and Enchainement Productions bring us incredible dance and musical theatre opportunities that invite comparisons to all-professional productions. (Full disclosure: the PGSO is about to undertake its biannual collaboration with Judy’s dance company on their production of The Nutcracker; so excited!). This past summer, the Sound of Music was heard by an impressive succession of packed houses at the PG Playhouse, and I’m sure Evil Dead: The Musical will be this fall as well, before they launch into The Nutcracker just in time for Christmas.
As a winter city, it’s perfectly apt that ColdSnap!, our folk and popular music festival, livens up our winter with some of the best Canadian and international artists around, up close and personal in intimate venues around town. I would be remiss not to mention the contribution some of our most stalwart arts venues have made—and not just the big ones like the CN Centre and Civic Centre. Books & Company, Nancy O’s, Groop Gallery, the University of Northern British Columbia, the Exploration Place, the Prince George Public Library, and the College of New Caledonia all provide a home not just to music and visual art, but also to Prince George’s thriving literary arts scene. We are home to a range of brilliant and widely recognized local writers, especially poets, to the degree that no less a luminary than Toronto publisher and poet Jay MillAr called Prince George “the secret poetry capital of Canada.”
With all the amazing talent we have working on both the creative and management sides, and with the inspiring level of support the community provides to its artists and arts institutions, I am so glad to be a part of the city’s forward momentum in the arts. I’m hopeful that the national recognition and community pride stirred by the Canada Winter Games will continue to bring out the best in us, and without a doubt, it’s the arts’ turn to take centre stage in our city.
In 2015 Prince George celebrated our 100-year anniversary as a City site. We have compiled our culture and the Prince George Heritage Commission created a web page for Prince George’s centennial called 100 Iconic Prince George People, Places and Objects. Hosted by The Exploration Place Museum, the page can be viewed at: http://www.theexplorationplace.com/pg100/100-prince- george-icons
Our top 5 cultural picks are:
Little Prince Steam Engine
The Little Prince Steam engine arrived in 1912 on a sternwheeler. The wood-burning Dinky engine was used to help build the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, now operated by CN. It runs on a 2.2 kilometre long track in the Park near The Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre in Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park. The train runs from the May long weekend to the Labour Day long weekend weather permitting. You can also enjoy hard ice cream sold in the train station. Check with the Exploration Place, 250 562-1612 for operating hours or visit: http://www.theexplorationplace.com/
Prince George Fire Department sled
This horse-drawn sleigh was used by the Prince George Fire Department from 1918 to 1928 to haul fire hoses and other firefighting equipment. It was manufactured in Winnipeg – similar models were used by fire departments across Canada. The sleigh and other fire equipment from the past can be seen at the Central B.C. Railway and Forestry Museum, open year ‘round at 850 River Road Road near Cottonwood Island Park. The Prince George fire department celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2015, which was also the 100th birthday of the City of Prince George.
Thousands of years ago, as glacial ice sheets melted and formed the Nechako and Fraser Rivers, the steep sandy slopes known as the cut banks were formed. They have long been a Prince George landmark inspiring artists and photographers. The cut banks were the site of North America’s only ski race on sand, called Sandblast. First held in 1972, the race attracted participants from all over the world, including Canadian ski champions. It was discontinued in 2004 after three people were hurt while trying to navigate the course on a couch rather than skis. High on the cutbanks in McMillan Creek Park, hikers and picnickers enjoy walking trails, interpretive signs, and spectacular viewpoints overlooking Cottonwood Island Park and the City.
The Northern Hardware and Furniture store on the corner of Third Avenue and Brunswick Street downtown was founded in 1919. A room upstairs houses artifacts including the first vacuum the store sold (a manual bellows) that same year.Originally on George Street, the business has been at its current location since 1940. It is the oldest family-owned business in Prince George, still run by the Moffat family. The store’s motto: If we don’t have it you don’t need it!
Bridget Moran statue
The plaque next to this unique statue of Bridget Moran, 1923-1999, describes how the prominent social worker, activist and author worked tirelessly to support families in the region. The sculpture was created by artist Nathan Scott and is located at 3rd Avenue and Quebec Street downtown. Scott also created the statue of Terry Fox found in the Community Foundation Park at 7th Avenue and Dominion Street.
Article submitted by Jeff Elder Cultural Coordinator
Regional District of Fraser-Fort George
Transportation is the reason Prince George exists in the first place, and it is why Prince George has developed and thrived for more than 10,000 years. That’s at least how long the Lheidli T’enneh (pronounced KLATE-lee TEN-ay) First Nation has called this confluence of two mighty rivers –Nechako and Fraser – home.
This was the central transition point of busy aboriginal trade economies between the northern, west coast, prairie and southern communities of modern day Western Canada. Part of this network was a series of ancient “grease trails” overland. Three of the main local ones were named Nyan Wheti (between modern day Fraser Lake and Fort St. James), the Cheslatta Trail (Fraser Lake to Ootsa Lake), and Nuxalk-Carrier Trail (Quesnel to Bella Coola). These were the ancient roads, but rivers and lakes were the ancient highways. The Nechako, its watershed running east-west across much of the northern interior, was one of the most prominent. It connects to the Fraser which runs from the northern Rockies (accessible by Cree nations of modern day Alberta) all the way through the north-south breadth of B.C. into the ocean. The indigenous name of this region’s aboriginal people is Dakelh (pr. da-KELTH) and that word translates to “people who travel by boat.” Furthermore, the translation of Lheidli T’enneh is “people from the confluence of two rivers.” Transportation was so intrinsic to daily life that the people here named themselves for it. The typical Lheidli T’enneh canoe was made by hollowing a log from the giant cottonwood trees that line the local shores. These ceased to be seen on local waters during the bulk of the 20th century when colonial forces attempted to erase aboriginal culture. Dakelh nations are now reestablishing their traditional ways of life. In 2014, a partnership between the University of Northern British Columbia and the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation resulted in a hands-on class during which the students built and paddled the first cottonwood canoe in known memory.
Canoe was what brought the first Europeans through this region. In spring of 1793, Scottish explorer Sir Alexander Mackenzie used the Upper Fraser River as his route towards the Pacific Ocean. First Nations contacts in this region warned the explorer that the southern Fraser’s rapids were deadly. They showed him the Nuxalk-Carrier Trail as a prudent detour. It now forms the last leg of the Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail. That year, on July 20, he and his band of voyageurs used it to become the first known humans to cross the continent overland. This spot was essential to transportation for another reason. Just north of modern day Prince George is the northern divide where, depending on where you stand, all the waters flow either south into the Pacific Ocean or north into the Arctic Ocean. This was a priceless geographic feature to the exploratory trading interests who used it to major economic advantage. An easy walk from a certain spot on the Fraser over a 14.5 km (nine mile) trail to Summit Lake was all that separated these epic forces of flow. The Lheidli T’enneh people were so aware of the importance of this route they called it “Lhedesti” meaning “the shortcut” and they were happy to show it to a pair of explorers in 1862 – John Giscome and Harry McDame – who transferred the knowledge to the feverish prospectors of the Omineca Gold Rush. The colonial government renovated the trail into a wagon road, steamships built a port on the Fraser, and it was where Albert Huble and Edward Seebach would build a farm and trading post. That homestead and the Giscome Portage are now conjoined historic sites beloved by tourists and local residents alike. Water was the easiest way through the northern wilderness, but the region’s 10 paddlewheelers were no better than canoes at getting through the southern Fraser rapids. Most were built at Soda Creek above the treacherous canyons and only worked north of that spot. Helping this cargo industry were pack-train operators using horses, mules and in Barkerville even imported camels. The most famous of these pack-train adventurers was Jean-Jacques Caux, known far and wide as Cataline. But these canoes, pack horses and steam ships were eventually no match for 20th century progress, and neither were the First Nations of the day. Although the rail lines and gold mines, coal hills and lumber mills were a boon for colonial populations, it triggered more than a century of misery for aboriginal populations.
The coming of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad in 1914 almost immediately ended the usefulness of the paddlewheelers on the rivers. The steamships delivered the construction locomotives (one of which still pulls passengers around Lheidi T’enneh Memorial Park) and railway labourers - and their own demise in the process. The iconic 800-metre rail bridge (it was also the automobile bridge until 1987 when the Yellowhead highway bridge was built alongside) has a unique lift-span to let ships go under, but it was hardly ever used before they simply dropped anchor into the mists of time.
Next, in the 1950s, critical rail lines arrived in Prince George connecting the ports of Vancouver, the coal and natural gas fields of Fort St. John, and interfacing with the older east-west lines. This strategic interconnection prevails to this day. On the same philosophies as rail, the provincial highway system also came to a crossroads here. Over time, a well-resourced international airport was also established on lanes connected to the roads and the rails.
It all makes Prince George open for global business of almost every sort. Prince George is a human interchange. The signs are everywhere. They are on exhibit at facilities like Exploration Place, the Railways & Forestry Museum, the Historic Huble Homestead, and out in open every-day view like where Mr. PG stands and the steel train bridge used by CN Rail today. It is still possible to launch your own canoe and feel the natural currents that have moved people through this area for more than 10 millennia. It also moved many of us to stay.
The ten-day event will run from February 5-14 and include a number of events such as The Integris Iceman competition; Cougars, Spruce Kings, and Timberwolves games; cultural performances; and the annual Chinese New Year Celebration at the Exploration Place. It will also include free admission to a variety of City facilities on Family Day. The highlight of the festival will be the Plaza event on February 13 including concerts, food trucks, activities, displays, and fireworks.
Photo by Shawn Haines, 2015 Canada Winter Games
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