From Purden Lakes Park to Fort St. James

Our route on Day 47 of the trip – Thursday, June 9th – took us west on Highway 16, and after a stop at the Vanderhoof Museum, north on Highway 27 to Fort St. James.

When we first bought the motorhome, I envisioned 240 km (150 mi) as a good mileage for an average day, and that’s worked out to be very good for the way Cathy and I like to travel. The route from Purden Lakes to Fort St. James is 222 km. Click on the map to open an interactive version in a new window.

Map - Purden Lake Provincial Park to Fort St. James
The campground at Purden Lakes Provincial Park is very nice, though the bugs were fairly bad when we were there.

Purden Lakes Provincial Park, BC
It was a big surprise to find flush toilets in what looked to be old-fashioned outhouses.

Flush toilets in the outhouses at Purden Lakes Provincial Park, BC
I took Bella and Tucker down to the lake and just sat on one of the docks for a while. The welts and wounds from the bugs at Gregg Lake were still bothering me 3 days later.

Bug bites on my feet
We’re pretty consistently one of the last people to leave each campground we go to, and this was no exception – we pulled out right at the 11:00 checkout time. There’s a sani-dump available as you leave the park. There’s a $5 charge, but we didn’t need it anyway – without any conservation measures, we can go a week without services.

RV at sani-dump at Purden Lakes Provincial Park, BC
Heading west on Highway 16 at 11:20. This is pleasant country – nothing dramatic. The stop at The Ancient Forest, however, has given me much more of an appreciation for what’s along the road.

Highway 16 west of Purden Lakes Provincial Park, BC
Approaching Prince George at 11:45. Our only stop there would be a pet shop. The last 2 nights of bad thunderstorms had really bothered Bella, and even bumps in the road were becoming a problem, so we decided to see if we could find a Thundershirt for her in Prince George (it’s an anxiety-reduction shirt that many people get great results from).

Approaching Prince George from the east on Highway 16
Cathy spotted a Total Pet store as we passed it on our route through town, and it wasn’t too hard to go around the block and get into the fairly large parking lot. The staff there was great, and Bella soon had her Thundershirt (for $56.99) – and we had our fingers crossed that it would work for her.

Bella in her new Thundershirt
We fueled up in Vanderhoof ($211 worth, at $1.219 per liter), then went to the Vanderhoof Community Museum, which I’d been to a few times, but never when it was open. A guide greeted us and showed us around the property, which is a “heritage village” of buildings that have been moved here. Many of the buildings have been re-purposed over the years, and the museum has done a good job of showing what the different stages woud have looked like.

Vanderhoof Community Museum
The Vanderhoof school as it would have looked in the 1920s.

Vanderhoof Community Museum
In 1918, R. M. Wade & Co. introduced and patented the gasoline driven one-man drag saw for loggers. It had a wheel on one end, making it possible for one man to operate it by himself. It was originally made by a factory located in Oskosh, Wisconsin. Later production was moved to the Multnomah Iron Works Company in Portland. It was a world famous product, sold in Australia, England and Germany. A Youtube video shows one at work sawing a log.

Wade Drag Saw at the Vanderhoof Community Museum
We left Vanderhoof a little after 3:00 pm, and by 4:00 were set up in Fort St. James at Cottonwood Park, which includes a 10-site municipal campsite right on Stuart Lake. There are no services, but there’s a firepit and picnic table, and the location and view make the $15 fee a bargain. The marina manager keeps an eye out for arrivals and drives over to collect the fee.

RVs camped at Cottonwood Park in Fort St. James, BC
Cottonwood Park was great for the dogs. We played on the beach and then walked a bit of the Ripples of the Past trail that runs in front of the campsites.

Ripples of the Past trail in Fort St. James, BC
Our Lady of Good Hope Church, built by Oblate Father Blanchet in 1873, is one of the oldest Roman Catholic Churches in BC. In 2010, following many years of awful treatment of the Natives who moved to be near the church, the church and land around it were transferred to the Nak’azdli Whut’en, a non-treaty First Nation.

Our Lady of Good Hope Church in Fort St. James, BC
The detail on the church steeple is wonderful. It’s a later addition to the 1873 structure, I believe by Father Morice, who was the church priest from 1885 to 1904.

Our Lady of Good Hope Church in Fort St. James, BC
Enjoying the evening sun with margaritas on the lakeshore at 8:00 pm.

At about 10:30, it looked like another storm was moving in.

The plan for Friday was to have a good look at the Fort St. James fur trading fort, then make the short drive to Burns Lake.


From Purden Lakes Park to Fort St. James — 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this great review of your travels. We leave Bellingham Wa (home) on July 23 and plan to take the same route you followed. With lots of unplanned stops and changes.
    We plan a 4-5 week trip, expecting to enjoy it enormously, except for the buggggs!

    • Glad that you enjoyed it. Have fun, and good luck with the bugs!! Over the 8 weeks I travelled, they were only annoying for very small periods of time.