Just north of the 54th parallel sits a bustling town with a lot of history. Founded in 1915, Prince George was originally settled by the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and has now grown to a population of 76,000 people all nestled in this densely forested area along the Fraser River. It was a town I had heard many things about but hadn’t considered as a travel destination. Now that Central Mountain Air are offering a direct flight (which, by the way, is only an hour!) it makes it incredibly accessible to those interested in exploring off the beaten path. Keep scrolling for highlights from my two days in PG.
We landed in the quaint airport that, unsurprisingly, had a lot of log detailing. It was misty out and everything smelled fresh, the way Northern BC tends to be. We were greeted by two mascots, Amelia Bearheart and Fraser the Moose, as well as our lovely hosts from Tourism PG, Annie and Anna. Off we went in a Pathfinder straight to the downtown core for breakfast at Ohh Chocolat Cafe. If there’s one place I love going, it’s a restaurant based around my favourite sweet – chocolate, and this one did not disappoint. Between the exceptional London Fog down to the candied bacon included in my breakfast, everything was a real sweet treat.
Our second stop was the Two Rivers Art Gallery. I was taken by the photographs of Adad Hannah and the rooftop installation Standing Split: My place, out of my place by David Jacob Harder. While we were walking around the second floor, we were watched by some curious eyes of children who were busy making duct tape wallets. The art gallery is definitely a hub of activity between its classes and evenings for the public to freely use equipment such as 3-D printers.
From the art gallery, we were able to hop on a free walking tour of Prince George where we quickly learned of its very fiery history. It seems as though each building downtown has caught fire or burnt down completely on numerous occasions. With that said, many historical sites have managed survive perishing to flames over the years and we were able to appreciate them in real life instead of old photographs. I was impressed by the number of public art pieces we can across whether it was larger installations, a mural on a private building, or simply the sidewalk painted rainbow in honour of their Pride parade (which started in 1997 and celebrated its 20th anniversary this year!)
Then it was time to eat again. Lunch was at Betulla Burning, a gorgeous pizzeria located on the main street. With a fire burning pizza often as the focal point of the restaurant, it was quite a sight to see. This restaurant also fell prey to flames right before opening and had to be completely rebuilt from the ground up. I think they did a fantastic job.
Everything on the menu looked so delectable but this is the point in which this trip became all about charcuterie. We went for the full antipasto which included the most amazing smoked olives, pickled carrots, and such thinly sliced prosciutto, it just melted in my mouth. I followed that up with the Salmon Crudo, a lighter dish of sockeye salmon, tomato & cucumber gazpacho, spruce tip granite, shiso & rye gremolata, Betulla garden herbs. It was dreamy.
We finished lunch with dessert, of course. The nutella calzone and London Fog panna cotta almost made me cry. The calzone was so good, Karlie from Miss Wanderlust ended up taking it with us on our travels for the day. Cally the calzone became the 7th influencer on this trip in addition to Diana from 204 Park, Andrea Hanki of Andrea Hanki Land, Kelsy Neilson of Twirls & Travels, and Phil of the Baconhound.
After eating our weight in cured meats and cheese, we headed to the Exploration Place. There, we enjoyed a whip around the riverside park on a mini steam train. There’s nothing quite like catching a good breeze next to a body of water while chugging along some steel tracks on a tiny train. I highly recommend it. The Science Center is conveniently located next to the train so we popped by there for some taxidermy of local wildlife and a wonderful Lheidli T’enneh exhibit.
For a brief moment, we checked into our accommodations, the Treasure Cove Hotel, where I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to see the handsome Mr PG statue in the distance. What a dreamboat. There wasn’t any time to swoon over him, we had places to go. It didn’t matter anyway because I knew we had a date with him arranged for the following day. I could wait. So off we went to the Northern Lights Estate Vineyard to see how they make fruit based wines at BC’s northern most winery.
I did not get the memo re: wear floral to the vineyard so I just admired the floral on floral on floral from afar. We toured the winery grounds adjacent to the Nechako River as the sun began to creep behind the hill. They mentioned that they host movie nights overlooking the vineyard on their natural amphitheater. No winery tour is complete without a tasting and a charcuterie board, both of which I can confirm were so good that I was too busy enjoying them to photograph them. Try to imagine…… a glass of wine…… and a board full of meat and cheese. You get the picture.
If wine wasn’t enough, and it wasn’t of course because this was a trip of sheer gluttony, we had to stop at a brewery as well. Pacific Western Brewery is home to Cariboo brewing. Turns out I’m not a huge beer enthusiast but I sure enjoyed their Wild Rootbeer. That is one tasty drink! Deliciously deceptive if you will, I could not even taste the alcohol in it.
Our final stop for the day was at a restaurant downtown called North 54. The energy level was pretty low at this point but we weren’t about to stop this food frenzy over a little fatigue. I started with the Wild Maine Scallops seared & served with a creamy miso glaze and pea shoots. I can honestly say, these were the best scallops I have ever eaten. They were seared to perfection and the sauce was otherworldly. 10/10 would eat again. I followed that with Lobster Ravioli, handmade and served with fresh basil, caramelized onions in a rich roasted garlic tomato sauce. Duuuuuuude. There are no words. I basically went comatose after this meal.
I went to sleep at 10 pm because I could not keep my eyes open. I slept like the dead and awoke at 6 am famished and ready to begin eating once more. Are you sensing a trend on this trip? Fortunately, we had made plans to meet early at Hummus Brothers, a restaurant next door to the hotel. Perfect. Diana and I decided to split the cinnamon bun which we didn’t realize would be the size of our heads… in addition to a Eggs Benedict. No regrets.
Post breakfast, we hit the road to go check out the Ancient Forest / Chun T’oh Whudujut Park, the only inland rainforest in North America! It was awe-inspiring. Not only is it universally accessible with its recently installed boardwalk stretching deep within the forest, it is also incredibly humbling being surrounded by such enormous old growth trees. The tall cedars are up to 2000 years old. That is mind blowing! Especially when you come across one that has fallen and you’re able to see the extensive root system. It is magnificent. This was easily my favourite part of the trip.
After that journey, it was feeding time again! Our last meal in Prince George was in another establishment that had caught fire at one point but survived! The Copper Pig BBQ House is exactly what you would imagine with a name like that. Lots of tasty bbq meats and giant mason jars full of fresh fruit flavoured lemonade. I particularly liked their mashed potatoes that had a hint of grainy mustard in them.
Before heading back to Edmonton, we had to pay a visit to Mr PG, that handsome wood man at the side of the road. A product of a visionary in the 1960s, Mr PG has had a prominent role in the civic pride of this city. Before he was a permanent structure at this location, he had the pleasure of riding on a float for their May Day Parade. He’s been added to my list of favourite kitschy landmarks which includes the Happy Rock in Gladstone. That 27 foot tall log man is a tall drink of water for sure.