History

A brief history of Bowron Lake Provincial Park

(121,600 hectares, located in Central British Columbia, Canada)

Prior to European contact, the land encompassed by the Park was home - seasonally - to visits from the Central and South Carrier, and North Shuswap First Nations. They travelled on north / south or east / west routes, contingent on salmon, kokanee and oolichan runs, berries and game. Eventually fur traders used the same routes in their westerly exploration in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Tragically, smallpox and other European-borne diseases soon began to ravage the aboriginal peoples. Then came the quest for gold along the Fraser River and its tributaries, and even more epidemics and white domination besieged the people.

With the establishment of Barkerville at the end of the Cariboo Wagon Road, came a fairly fixed Caucasian and Oriental population. Bear Lake, as Bowron was originally known, soon became a leisure destination for Barkerville residents. A primitive wagon road, following the route of the Goat River Trail, enabled excursions to the lake. The lake was renamed Bowron, after John Bowron, Gold Commissioner in Barkerville, and a true pioneer, having travelled to the Cariboo as one of the "Overlanders of 1862".

Hunting and trapping in what is now the park, was very common. George Isaac and Kenneth McLeod were two of the earliest. Big game guiding and outfitting began in the early 1900s, with the eventual establishment of hunting and fishing lodges on the north shore of Bowron. Frank Kibbee was the first known guide, with Joe and Betty Wendle following and establishing the first lodge in the area. Thomas McCabe, early conservationist and naturalist, was the first person to map the Chain of Lakes.

The McCabes and Wendles were influential in bringing about the proclamation of a game reserve on the land surrounded by the lakes. This "Preserve" began in 1925, and was expanded in 1961 with the creation of the Class A Wilderness Canoe Park.

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"BLES" ENVISIONS THAT THE WILDERNESS VALUES OF THE BOWRON LAKE AND AREA ARE PROTECTED AND ENHANCED