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396km (246 miles) W of Jasper, Alberta; 756km (470 miles) E of Prince Rupert

The largest city in northern British Columbia, Prince George (pop. 82,000) makes a natural base for exploring the sights and recreational opportunities of the province's north-central region, which is filled with forested mountains, lakes, and mighty rivers.

There has been settlement at the junction of the Fraser and Nechako rivers for millennia; the two river systems were as much a transportation corridor for the early First Nations people as for the European settlers who came later. A trading post was established in the early 1800s; the Grand Trunk Railroad, which passed through here in 1914, put Prince George on the map.

What makes the city's economic heart beat is lumber -- and lots of it. Prince George is at the center of vast softwood forests, and three major mills here turn trees into pulp, and pulp into paper. The economic boom that these mills introduced has brought a relative degree of sophistication to the lumber town -- there's a civic art gallery, good restaurants, and the University of Northern British Columbia.