Palaeontology/Heritage Discovery Circle
This driving tour may be the ultimate getaway to discover the rich history and culture of British Columbia. This vacation should be savoured over a 3 to 4 week period, but can be compressed to meet your needs. We begin the tour in Vancouver, but jump in at any point along the route.
- Part 1 – Ferry to Victoria/Vancouver Island – about 274 km (4-1/2 hr)
- Part 2 – Victoria to Nanaimo – about 110 km (1-1/2 hr)
Side Trip to the West Coast – about 205 km (3 hr)
- Part 3 – Nanaimo to Courtenay – about 110 km (1-1/4 hr)
Side Trip to Strathcona Provincial Park – about 25 km (1/2 hr)
- Part 4 – Courtney to Port Hardy – about 285 km (3-1/2 hr)
- Part 5 – Ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert – about 515 km (16 hr)
- Part 6 – Prince Rupert to Prince George – about 720 km (9 hr)
Side Trip to Dawson Creek – about 405 km (5 hr)
- Part 7 – Prince George to Barkerville – about 200 km (2-1/2 hr)
- Part 8 – Barkerville to Clinton via Gold Rush Trail – about 370 km (4-1/2 hr)
- Part 9 – Clinton to Pemberton – about 205 km (3 hr)
- Part 10 – Pemberton to Vancouver – about 156 km (2-1/2 hr)
The Tsawwassen ferry terminal is located on a peninsula south of Richmond. This is the most direct route to Victoria, although there is another ferry that departs from Horseshoe Bay. It sails directly to Nanaimo, thereby cutting 2 or 3 days off of this tour.
Victoria is the capital of BC and western Canada’s oldest city. Founded in 1843 as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, this city is the most British of all cities in Canada and boasts prominent reminders of its colonial past. Relive the elegance of times past with high tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
Nanaimo’s roots began with the arrival of Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) coal miners in 1852. The HBC erected a fortress called The Bastion, the following year at the corner of Front and Bastion Streets. The Bastion’s cannon is still fired at noon on summer days. Nanaimo’s new museum and the displays throughout downtown reveal fascinating chapters on local history.
The quaint village of Qualicum Beach, will provide rest before heading across island. Walk through the ancient trees of Cathedral Grove. It is an awe-inspiring experience, 20 minutes west on Hwy #4.
The discovery on November 12, 1988, of the fossil remains of an 80 million year old marine reptile, brought the Courtenay and District Museum into the palaeontological spotlight. This was the first find of an elasmosaur west of the Canadian Rockies. Book a fossil tour! Museum staff will help you experience the thrill of hands-on discovery at the fossil sites along the Puntledge River.
Port Hardy is the arrival/departure point for BC Ferries service to Prince Rupert. Bear Cove is the oldest known site of human habitation (circa 5850 BCE) on Vancouver Island. The Port Hardy Museum houses exhibits about aboriginal culture, European settlement, forestry, mining and commercial fishing and more.
Prince Rupert is a port city with rich fishing history. Europeans, First Nations, Japanese, Chinese and people from many other cultures worked as fishers, canners and boat builders. The North Pacific Cannery, a national historic site, is the oldest, most completely preserved cannery remaining of the hundreds that once dotted British Columbia’s Northwest Coast.
Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park, near Smithers, is home to one of the world’s most significant fossil beds. Learn about the area as it was 50 million years ago through the plants, animals and insects embedded within the shale formations.
The Prince George Railway & Forestry Museum provides a truly authentic sense of railway history and the importance of forestry to the community. The Exploration Place Science Centre & Museum has a Palaeontology Gallery, which includes two fleshed-out dinosaurs.
If you are fond of dinosaurs, the recom-mended side trip to Dawson Creek, and Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, will bring you so close to Tumbler Ridge, BC and Wembley, Alberta that you may want to add on a couple of extra days.
For other excellent circle tour ideas in BC check out hellobc.com