Williams Lake Visitor Attractions
Tourism Discovery Centrewww.tourismwilliamslake.com
The Tourism Discovery Centre opened September 25, 2006. The building is owned by the City of Williams Lake and is managed by the Williams Lake & District Chamber of Commerce. It is a “first of its kind” in the province and poses as a gateway to showcase the City’s growing industry, economy, rich culture and history.
The Tourism Discovery Centre is a total of 14,000 square feet and is mainly constructed of western red cedar beetle damaged pine wood. This gorgeous structure was designed by Bernard Perreten Architect Inc. and built by local log home builders Pioneer Log Homes & sub-traders and Durfeld Log and Timber & sub-traders also with Sprucelee Construction & sub-traders.
The main display area holds three 17’ murals depicting various attributes of the regional landscape. In the foreground of each mural are interactive displays that let the visitors experience the thrill to climb into a kayak, take a ride on a mountain bike and to get up on a saddle.
The massive centre post with its flared root in tact can be viewed from both the main floor and the upper mezzanine. It spans 52 feet from the lower floor to the ceiling and is approximately 10 feet across at the base. The western red cedar was sensitively harvested from Bella Coola area and is estimated to be 745 years old.
Located inside the Tourism Discovery Centre is the Williams Lake & District Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Centre as well as a Coffee Shop and Gift Shop. Be sure to check it out while in town.
The Station House Gallery is the oldest public building still in use in Williams Lake. The building, now an art gallery, was once the BC Rail Station and is one of only two remaining first generation Pacific Great Eastern Railway stations. It was built in 1919 in the same location where it stands today, and in 1982 part of it was rebuilt as a gift shop and gallery. Today the hardwood floor and the master furnace are still original to the building and the exterior is the same – albeit with a fresh coat of paint. Every month new works of art in a variety of mediums are shown in the gallery and the gift shop contains the work of many local artists and crafts people.
The Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin, situated in the Tourism Discover Centre, is the only museum in BC to focus on ranching and rodeo. It shows the history of Williams Lake, from First Nation culture, to the fur traders and the mining and forestry industries that have since developed in the town, but it especially focuses on the ranching heritage of the area. Its goal is to “preserve and promote this ranch heritage” by showcasing it in the local museum. The Museum also hosts the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame, showcasing the feats of cowboys from all around BC as well as the history of both the BC Rodeo Association and the BC High School Rodeo Association. Come see the displays of all sorts of Williams Lake artifacts, saddles and even belt buckles.
Located on the west end of Williams Lake off South Mackenzie Avenue, Scout Island is a nature sanctuary and park area comprising two islands connected to the mainland by a vehicle causeway. In addition to a beach area, picnic ground and boat launch, Scout Island contains a series of nature trails that take visitors through a relatively undisturbed natural environment, rich in bird and small wildlife habitat.
A key feature of Scout Island is the Nature House which strategically overlooks the extensive marsh adjacent to the island. The Nature Centre is operated by the Williams Lake Field Naturalists.