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Quesnel History / Under construction

Early History

It is clear that the First Nations people used the junction of the two rivers as a meeting place for many centuries. Simon Fraser landed here on his exploration from coast to coast and named the incoming river after his lieutenant, Jules Quesnelle. It became an important focus of activity with the Cariboo Gold Rush and remained a transportation hub for the northern interior of British Columbia until the Grand Trunk railway was built to Prince George.

Gold Rush

The initial push of the Cariboo Gold Rush pushed up into the Cariboo Mountains by way of Quesnelle Forks, located at the junction of what is now the Cariboo and Quesnel rivers. Various trails from 150 mile, Williams Lake and Fort Alexandria were all used in the earlier years but the Royal Engineers decided that the best route would be from the mouth of the Quesnel River into the gold camps. This was partially because in the early stages the gold found on Lightning Creek around the town of Van Winkle was just as important as the fields being worked around Barkerville.

The initial building of the Cariboo Road ended at Soda Creek, the beginning of navigable water on the Fraser River, and travellers then boarded a steam boat for the trip up to Quesnelle Mouth (it was only officially called "Quesnel" in the early 1900s when the federal Post Office decided to shorten the name). Because of this connection and the road into Barkerville which was completed by 1865 Quesnelle flourished for many years even with the decline of the major rush in the Barkerville area. Subsequent gold rushes into the northern interior including the Klondike rush all used Quesel as a supply depot and the town prospered.

More to Come (under construction)

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