Hudson’s Hope

Hudson’s Hope – for days gone by and modern explorers

Water, earth and sky

by Dorothy Isted
Hudson’s Hope – for days gone by and modern explorers. This small town in the Peace River district has a proud history, from early explorers and settlers to the building of the mighty dams in its neighbourhood.

In an effort to avoid the treacherous Peace River Canyon in May 1793, Alexander Mackenzie and his party camped near present day Hudson’s Hope, B.C. In his journal Mackenzie noted eight deserted First Nations lodges, nesting geese and coal seams in the river banks. There was a nearby and well-known Indian portage road used by the local people, but the guides missed it. So he had his men go overland twelve miles around the dangerous river rapids. In the end, Mackenzie’s adventure landed him at the Arctic Ocean rather than the Pacific he was aiming for.

Nowadays, with highway signs and the convenience of wireless devices, it would be hard for anyone to get lost in the Hudson’s Hope area. There are two popular road trips for modern-day explorers. First, starting and ending at Prince George, B.C., there’s the Great Northern Circle route that takes you 10-plus days over 3194 kilometers, with the first stop at Hudson’s Hope. Secondly, an Alaska Highway road trip runs 1345 kilometers and can take three to seven days.

The museum in Hudson’s Hope has reminders of the fur trading and pioneering days, plus the Peace Country’s largest fossil collection, including a mammoth dinosaur tusk. The W.A.C. Bennett Dam is the most popular spot in the area, along with the smaller downstream Peace Canyon Dam. Both have displays and tours.

See the Northern Lights

There’s a sense of true magic when gazing upwards at throbbing, swirling pulses of dancing white, mauve, green and yellow lights. The Peace River district is on the auroral oval, along with most of Northern Canada, and the best times to view the Northern Lights are between November and April—most particularly at the spring and fall equinoxes. They can be seen year round, though in the summertime you’d have to stay up late. Check out for the best viewing times.

More natural attractions

There are a number of lakes and campgrounds in the area, with King Gething, Lynx Creek and Dupont catering to RVs. Hiking, canoeing, jet boating on the river, swimming, abundant wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities are in great supply. The lakes are cold, but Cameron Lake is the warmest and most preferred by the locals. For more information check out the HelloBC website.

Services available in Hudson’s Hope

Hudson’s Hope, with a population of 971, boasts a Co-Op grocery store called the Legacy Village Market, and there are two convenience stores with gas bars that stay open later. A doctor lives and works in town and there is an ambulance ready for emergencies. Once a month the town also sponsors free family-oriented music gatherings.

Pat Markin of the Pearkes Centre explains this multipurpose building holds a hairdresser, offices and a Sears catalogue outlet. There’s also an artist’s studio showcasing Janis Herbison’s watercolours. People interested in watercolour workshops can call her at 250-783-5534. Her paintings can also be found for sale throughout town.

Those wishing to eat out can have their tastes satisfied with everything from Freddy’s Deli up to fine dining at Williston Lake Resort. See our November 2012 issue for more on that.

Mackenzie’s early presence in the area accounts for the fact Hudson’s Hope is the third oldest European community in British Columbia. He would be astonished at the 21st century explorers trundling into town steering their RVs. He would likely be astonished at their age and health, himself having died at the age of 56, years after exploring the region when he was in his twenties.

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