Fishing on Francois Lake, Burns Lake (Picture BC photo)

Fishing on Francois Lake, Burns Lake

(Picture BC photo)

Burns Lake


Burns Lake is located directly on Highway 16, the main east to west route in Northern British Columbia. The small community of Topley is to the west and Fraser Lake is to the east.

The town claims to be geographical centre of the province. However, Vanderhoof, located about a two-hour drive southeast of Burns Lake, makes the same claim.


Burns Lake is at the centre of the Lakes District of Northern BC, which extends from the Stikine Mountains in the west and the Omineca Mountain Range in the east. The town has at least 20 lakes in its immediate vicinity and more than 300 wilderness lakes in the entire district. It boasts 4,828km/3,000mi of shoreline. Directly south of the town centre is the actual Burns Lake, after which the town is named.

Nearby Lakes

Nearby lakes that are notable for their length include Babine Lake to the north and Francois and Ootsa lakes to the south. Babine Lake is the longest natural lake in the province, while Francois Lake is the second longest lake in Canada. Local legends say a lake monster lurks in Ootsa.


The community of Burns Lake is split into two distinct areas, the north and south sides of Francois Lake, commonly referred to as the southside and the northside. The northside of Burns Lake straddles Highway 16. It encompasses the town's centre, and most of its shops, businesses and services. The southside has mostly farms and wilderness lodges. The area is known to have a unique, laid-back culture.

To get to the southside from the northside, drive south along Highway 35 for about 10 minutes or take the 20-minute free ferry ride across Francois Lake.

Climate and Weather

The climate in Burns Lake is mild in the summer and cold in the winter. Winters are long, sometimes lasting up to eight months, but they are mostly dry. Summers are moderate. While winter temperatures average -10.6°C/12.9°F, they can sometimes reach -40°C/-40°F. Summer temperatures average around 20°C/68°F.