Last modified: 2013-10-11 by rob raeside
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photograph provided by Darrell Neuman, 6 September 2013
Burns Lake (2,726 inhabitants) is located in the geographic centre of British Columbia. It is British Columbia’s largest village. It actually qualifies for ‘town’ status under the Local Government Act. Burns Lake was incorporated as a municipality in 1923.
Quoting the municipal website:
The body of water from which the community derives its name was officially "discovered" by the Borland Expedition, whose members passed through the area while surveying a route for the Overland Telegraph. Legend has it that shortly before the Borland Expedition arrived, a tremendous forest fire swept through the area, blackening trees and generally turning the countryside into a sooty mess. The charred landscape prompted members of the expedition to dub the long, narrow body of water lying at the bottom of this unknown valley as "Burnt Lake" – a name that over the years became “Burns Lake”. Perhaps reports of the forest fire deterred settlers from coming to Burns Lake, because it wasn’t settled until 1911, when construction crews arrived to begin work on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad. Many of these men, upon seeing the area’s potential, elected to remain behind when railroad construction moved westward; others, lured by the promise of inexpensive land, arrived by train to begin a new life. Judging from early accounts, life in the Lakes District during those early years was (to say the least) a challenge. There were few permanent residents of the area, and even fewer homes. The train arrived three times a week, stopping only long enough to unload mail and what meager supplies the settlers could afford. The area’s train station was merely a wide spot on the rail grade, with no permanent structure.
Into this scene swaggered red-haired Trygarn Pelham Lyster Mulvany. Commonly known as "Barney", he arrived in the area with the contents of a construction camp he’d won in a poker game. He pitched two tents in a conspicuous location along the rail line not far from the lake; one became a cook tent, the other a 12-bed hotel. Twenty-four transients arrived for dinner the day he opened for business.
Canvas-walled tents gave way to sturdy log cabins as more settlers arrived in the area. In 1923, Barney’s old "tent town" was incorporated as the Village of Burns Lake, a small, but vibrant community of 150 people – most of them men.
On 10 May 2005, Burns Lake adopted a flag (quoting the same source):
The Village of Burns Lake now has a municipal flag. Council adopted the flag – a black-and-white version of the municipality’s logo set against a dark blue background – at its regular meeting May 10.
Mayor Bernice Magee
Source: Burns Lake website
Ivan Sache, 23 July 2006