Because we raised four kids in the Lower Mainland, we always envisioned spending the rest of our lives there surrounded by family, my husband secure in his job, heading towards retirement. But in 2017 the company he worked for restructured and one of the outcomes was that he was now able to work from home. Suddenly we were open to the opportunity to live and work anywhere in the province.
Deciding to move to Prince George
By the time this happened, our kids had married, had babies and spread themselves throughout the province with some remaining in the Lower Mainland and others heading north. Our first drive to central BC for a visit was filled with trepidation. Our knowledge of Prince George was severely limited and we had no idea what to expect. But that first visit gave us a small glimpse into the treasures the city has to offer. Exceptionally friendly people, breathtaking scenery and a slower more laid back lifestyle.
It didn’t take long for us to realize what the draw was for our daughter and son-in-law to want to raise their family here. Wide open spaces, affordable housing, and steady economic growth that ensured long term employment and business opportunities. When the time came to consider moving, Prince George was an easy choice.
Of course the question we were most often asked was “What if you don’t like it?”
Just a few years away from retirement, we knew we were taking a chance leaving behind a home we’d lived in for almost 20 years. But we were filled with a sense of adventure and eager to see what the future might hold.
Prince George did not disappoint.
Looking for places to explore
Our first goal was to explore all the local parks. Encountering a bear at Cottonwood Island Park was a bit more excitement than we bargained for. Next was Forests for the World. This trail system remains one of our favourites. Lovely trails, a picturesque lake for fishing and a sweeping view of the city. Watch out for moose droppings on the trail. I suggest you print off a trail map at home and take it to the park with you or download an app that allows you to map out your hike using GPS coordinates.
Next was Moore’s Meadow right in the heart of urban Prince George. There is a fascinating history to this park, which was once prime grazing land for livestock. The paths will take you through evergreen forests, sweeping meadows and residential streets if you’re keen to keep exploring.
LC Gunn Park hugs the eastern rim of the city above the railroad tracks and takes you from north to south, or south to north if you choose. The lovely trail winds through a variety of deciduous and fir trees with stops for viewing the Fraser River all along the way.
Venturing away from town took us to Eskers Provincial Park. The trails are so quiet you can hear the grouse huffing in the trees and a beautiful bird watching the estuary as part of the hike.
And if you love birdwatching, take a kayak to Ferguson Lake and you might just see a kingfisher diving for dinner.
But one of our all-time favourite places to go for a Sunday afternoon stroll is Goodsir Nature Park, north of the city. It’s privately owned and maintained but open to the public. Start with a peek into the museum like info centre. There’s a good chance you’ll be welcomed by the founder, builder and designer of this park, Jim Good himself, who is there to provide a wealth of botanical knowledge. He has planted hundreds of trees and plants that are identified by markers and the trails are wide and well maintained. Pack a lunch or a snack and you might see beavers swimming in the pond while you picnic. Continue on and watch for a train to pass by and look out for information on an original homestead which once was part of the property.
There is so much to enjoy all around the city but staying close to home provides its own pleasures. Incredible sunrises and sunset from our deck. Sandhill cranes stopping by in the summer. There is an abundance of birds always passing through and it’s fun to keep track of what birds visits and when. I stop in awe when I hear an owl hooting in the woods behind our home or see the occasional bear, moose or deer strolling through the fields. One morning I looked up from my coffee to see a lynx standing on my deck staring back at me.
This winter as we cuddled up warm by the fire, we were delighted to see a weasel playing on our deck and peeking into our doors to look at the dog.
And for those who might still ask “What if you don’t like it?” The answer is easy.
“What if it turns out better than you ever imagined?”