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Burns Lake Cronology

edited by
Alan A Sandercott

The Name

       When the Borland Expedition, surveying the Collins Overland Telegraph route, passed by Burns Lake in 1869, the whole area from Decker Lake to the east end of Burns Lake had been blacked by a huge forest fire. They named the lake, "Burnt Lake".

First Nations

  • Most natives lived on Babine Lake.
  • 1870 (abt) - Daniel Leon born at Fort Babine, on Babine Lake.
  • 1880 (abt) - David Tibbet born, later chief of the Burns Lake Band. Succeeded by son Frank
  • 1906 - When Barney Mulvany passed Burns Lake in 1906 some of the natives he encountered were Tommy Michell, Plasway Michell, and Alex Michell.

Pioneers and Settlement

  • 1906 - Barney Mulvany first camped on Burns Lake while making a dog team trip between Quesnel and Hazelton.
  • 1908 - Malcolm McKinley, telegraph operator, filed his land claim on June 10, 1908. (BL&D)
  • 1908 - George Wallace filed his land claim Sept 25, 1908. (BL&D)
  • 1909 - Dick Carroll arrived in June. Only one other person at that time, the telegraph operator. (Carroll)
  • 1910 - A South African by the name of George Wallace buiilt his home in 1910 and his wife was the first woman settler in Burns Lake. Boer Mountain is named after George. His nickname was, "The Boer".(Carroll)
  • 1911 - The McKenna family arrived in August. The only building was the Burns Lake Cabin. (McKenna)
  • 1914 - Population approximately 160.(Minger)
  • 1916 - Mrs. D. Gerow arrived in Burns Lake on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.
  • 1917 - The first sale of lots in the new townsite of Burns Lake took place.
  • 1918 - Fred Sterns arrived in Burns Lake in August. He first worked for the Railway laying ties. Population was about 140. (Sterns)
  • 1918 - Dick O'Hara settled with his parents on Boer Mountain.
  • 1919 - Fred Beach arrived in Burns Lake in the spring.
  • 1919 - Mr. G Saul arrived in Burns Lake in June.
  • 1920 - Taylor Jenzen moved to Burns Lake from Tchesinkut Lake. (Jenzen)
  • 1921 - Percy Kaler arrived in Burns Lake.
  • 1921 - Mat Nourse moved into Burns Lake from Francois Lake to become a real estate and insurance agent. (Nourse)
  • 1928 - Linton's moved from Francois Lake into Burns Lake.
  • 1920 - Bill Collison transfered from Smithers to Burns Lake with Imperial Oil.


Earliest proveyors of christianity were the missionaries who traveled through the area, namely Father Cocola from Fort St James. He had worked extensively with natives in the surrounding areas. (BL&D)

  • Anglican Rev. F.L. Stevenson was travelling the area as early as 1908. (BL&D)
  • 1912 - Anglican Rev. MacKay and his son used to walk from Burns Lake to Ootsa Lake to hold services. (Shelford)


  • A store and hotel were built on Gerow Island by Bob Gerwo and Jack Seeley.
  • George McKenzie built the first store.
  • Barney Mulvaney built the first hotel.
  • 1917 - Gerow and Seeley moved their hotel to the present site of the Canadian Legion in Francois Lake Drive. They then built a store next to the hotel.
  • 1919 - A temporary bank was established.
  • 1920 - The Royal Bank building was built. First Manager was Niles Henderson.
  • 1920 - Fred Aslin built a store. It later burned in March of 1925.


  • 1914 - Grand Trunk Pacific finished at Fort Fraser. (Carroll)
  • Renamed Canadian National Railroad.

Transportaion and Highways

  • Only the Government Telegraph Trail, used by pack trains and horses, existed prior to 1919.
  • Goods arriving by pack train from Hazelton cost about 25 cents a pound.
  • 1919 - The building of Highway #16 was started. (Saul)
  • 1920 - Fred Beach recalled the first Model "T" truck that travelled to Francois Lake in the early 1920's. (Beach)
  • 1925 - The highway was built as far as Richmond Hill. (Sterns)
  • 1926 - The highway went as far as Sheraton, then to Priestly.(Sterns)
  • First car owned by Bob Gerow.(Sterns)

Mail Service and the Post Office

  • Howie Laidlaw had the first post office on Gerow Island.
  • 1925 - Bill McKenna appointed as postmaster, retiring in 1966.
  • 1966 -Thomas Farquhar.

Water Service

  • People had to buy their drinking water from the Government pump.(Sterns)
  • It was hauled for 50 cents a barrell.(Minger)

Telegraph and Telephone Systems

  • 1909 - A Mr. Malcolm McKinley was telegraph operator for the Yukon Telegraph when Dick Carroll arrived.(Carroll)

Electrical Power

  • 1930's - Jonas Glans started an electric plant. (Minger)
  • BC Hydro


  • The observer, operated by Sid Gartne. (Kaler)

Law Enforcement

  • 1918 - The nearest police was Mr. Aldmere from Telkwa. (Sterns)
  • 1920 - First police constable was Percy Carr. (Saul)
  • 1921 - Constables were, Percy Carr, Ferrburn, and Selk. (Mann)
  • 1949 - G. Saul appointed Justice of the Peace.
  • 1951 - G. Saul appointed Magistrate.

Fire Department

Education and Schools

  • 1917 - First school built. First teacher Mrs. Frank Keith. (Mrs D Gerow)
  • 1918 - There 7 students in school when Fred Sterns arrived.(Sterns)
  • 1921 - The high school was built. The original building remained as an elementary school.(Sterns)

Hospital and Doctors

  • At first the only doctor was Dr. Wrinch in Hazelton Hospital.(McKenna)
  • 1924 - First hospital established in Burns Lake with Miss. A. Moore as Superintendant.(#26 A Retrospect)
  • 1925 - Dr. Stele arrived for 2 years. Then Dr. Hankin from Smithers and Dr. Holmes from Ft Fraser served the area untill 1929.(#26 A Retrospect)
  • 1929 - Dr. Holmes came and stayed 26 years. (#26 A Retrospect)
  • 1936 - A new hospital was built. (#26 A Retrospect)

Ambulance Service

Burns Lake Public Library

Radio and Television Service

  • Andy Reddy had the first radio in town. (Fred Sterns)

Notes of Interest:

  • There were only a few mule deer around in the early days, and NO moose! According to Olaf Anderson, a couple moose wandered into the area in 1912. They were immediately killed and it was years before any more entered the area.