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History of Williams Lake, BC

Early History

Situated amid lovely lakes and fertile fields, Williams Lake is the second largest city in the Cariboo region in British Columbia. Renowned for its annual stampede, sports facilities, and spectacular nature, Williams Lake is an ideal pick for everyone who is looking for adventure and relaxation at the same time.

Let us travel back to the time when the story of Williams Lake was just about to begin… This happened in the 1860s, when the Gold Rush in the Cariboo district was in full swing. At that time, two roads were leading to gold fields, both of which met near William Lake. That area turned out to be a good choice for the future town, Williams Lake. The town was founded by William Pinchbeck and Philip Henry Nind, who came from Victoria to establish a government and preserve order. In the years that followed, a government house, a post office, a courthouse, a stopping house, and a jail were built in Williams Lake.

In early 1860s, Williams Lake received news that soon the Cariboo Road would pass the town. However, the plan was not implemented, as the road builder decided to change the route of the Caribou Road. The decision to bypass Williams Lake was extremely unfavorable for the town’s economic development.

Williams Lake was forgotten for several decades. However, the town was reborn with the construction of PGE, the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. The PGE reached Williams Lake in 1919. The same year, the world-famous Williams Lake Stampede originated. The second largest rodeo in Canada brings together the entire community and includes bull riding, bareback riding, barrel racing and other activities. The William Lake Stampede takes place each year, during the July 1st weekend.

Williams Lake Nowadays

Today Williams Lake is a small town of 10,753. The major industries are forestry, logging, farming, transportation, and mining, with the majority of the population employed in these sectors. Williams Lake is home to one of the campuses of Thompson Rivers University, that offers a wide range of on-campus and online programs.

If you are traveling around the Cariboo region in British Columbia, do not miss the opportunity to visit this small cozy city. Take a peaceful boat ride on Williams Lake, enjoy the spectacular views of the Fraser River, have a picnic on Scout Island and be sure to take as many pictures as possible: they will keep memories of your travel to Williams Lake alive for many years to come!