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Living on the edge of a world class park

History | April 16, 2019

A lifestyle that many dream about!

Who would have guessed!

1932 William and Kezia McKitrick and their 4 children moved from Vancouver to Bowron Lake B.C. William had been on a survey team a couple of years earlier and fell in love with the area. At that time the park was a game reserve consisting of approximately 100,000 acres. They purchased the property and business from Joe and Betty Wendell who in the early 1900s started a fishing lodge on Bowron and connecting lakes and rivers. The reserves boundary was defined by the 13 lakes in a parallelogram. Joe built cabins on the larger lakes.

Foreground: Lodge #3 built by Joe Wendle
Back Left: Lodge #2 – both burned to the ground – photograph looking from Bowron Lake back to the Two Sisters Mtns

William’s second son, Roy McKitrick, returned to Bowron after the War with his wife Kitty and son Douglas. He planned to help his father at Bowron in the lifestyle he had come to love. The family grew as well as the business. Papa William (Bill) led a quieter lifestyle staying with his roots; clearing land, raising cattle & chickens and growing a large vegetable garden.

The current airstrip was a hayfield where as kids we worked hard bringing in the hay using the horse drawn hay wagon. We always looked forward to Poppa William driving the wagon into the lake to cool off the horses and grandkids. All of Roy’s five kids helped out on the “farm/resort” and grew up working in the family business.


Front left to right: James in Kezia’s arms & William
Back: Doug
Photograph taken (1948) looking East towards lower Bowron River from current day airstrip


Front left to right: Ron and dog
Back: James and Doug (approx. 1953)

Front left to right: James in Kitty’s arms, Doug & Roy standing on the Bowron River bridge in 1948


In 1962 the game reserve was expanded and became Bowron Lake Provincial Park, ”a *Class A Wilderness Park.” Our lake cabins became public park cabins and shelters. Our guiding and fishing dealings evolved into a canoe and outfitting business. Most canoeists allowed 7 to 10 days to paddle the circuit of lakes.

*Class A Park – lands dedicated to the preservation of their natural environments for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public.

McKitrick Family Business – Bowron Lake Lodge sign

Roy’s second son Jim, third generation, never had a chance. He was hooked. What kid could leave fishing and hiking to the next lake to stay in the cabins or camping out, canoeing, meeting great clients from destinations near and far? Watching the moon rise casting its reflection for miles on the water while sitting by the campfire. Telling, remembering, and living stories with old and new wilderness travellers. Jim had decided this is a dream life, why start a different career when you are immersed in it already.

James McKitrick approx. 1957

At the time (1960’s), the school in Wells was an elementary school a 30 minute drive West of Bowron Lake. After one year of Doug in the dorm, Dad said “we’re moving to Quesnel, the kids are not dorming it.” Roy and Kitty moved to Quesnel in the mid 1960’s  with their five children. After graduating Jim decided Bowron was his future. Commencing the 3rd generation of McKitricks at Bowron Lake.

Spectacle Lake across from Pat’s Point where we had a cabin – View North toward Bowron Lake behind Sugarloaf mtn.

Jim and his family managed the resort for several years. Summers at Bowron, Winters in Quesnel. Spring and Fall most of the kid talk was “Can we start school one week later and leave one week early.” Mark, Jim’s son, would always say “pick me and friend up after school Friday 3:00, we’re coming to the lake, school doesn’t start till Monday At 10:00. We will fish a bit, help out, fish, wash canoes, fish, cut firewood, fish –you know.”

Mark and James McKitrick approx. 1987

After a successful career working away Mark returned to Bowron. The 4th generation (Mark) of McKitricks are now at Bowron Lake. Mark and Kate’s boys are already walking the beach, sitting by the campfire, canoeing, & fishing.

Kate, Mark McKitrick and sons 2019

William (Bill) and Kezia had no idea their dream would span 5 generations. Perhaps more.

~ Jim

BC Parks. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/about/park-designations.html#ClassA