Prince George is the largest city in northern British Columbia. The geologic history and climate have strongly influenced the landscape in which Prince George is found.
Steep, bare slopes called the Cutbanks surround the city, which is set within a deep bowl. The oldest rock underlying the city is 250-million-year-old volcanic rock.
Prince George's Topography
So why is Prince George located in this dish? Approximately two million years ago during the Ice Age, continental ice sheets covered huge expanses of land. Nearly 12,000 years ago the great ice sheet began to melt leaving behind glacial sand and gravel deposits. Ice-blocked water had nowhere to flow. Instead, it was trapped in a large low-lying area forming a large lake where deposits of sand and silt settled.
Once the lake drained away, the Fraser and Nechako rivers flowed through and eroded the landscape, forming valleys and canyons. As the rivers changed course they left behind evidence of erosion where benches formed, creating today's city-terraced landscape.
The confluence of the Fraser and Nechako rivers attracted human settlement, beginning with the Carrier Sekani People thousands of years ago. The rivers formed natural travel routes, and salmon provided an important food fishery.
Stand at the University of Northern BC in Prince George viewpoint to see how the landscape was shaped. Further to the east are the Rocky Mountains separating Prince George and the rest of BC from the northeast part of the province. The Caribou Mountains are in the southeast, and the Interior Plateau is in the south.
Climate and Weather
Prince George has relatively short summers and long (five-month) winters. The annual snowfall is approximately 2.2m/7.1ft, with winter daytime temperatures averaging -9.6°C/-14.7°F in January and dipping to extreme lows occasionally (-50°C/-58°F) in the winter. Come prepared with appropriate winter gear. Summer is warmer, with temperatures averaging 15.5°C/60°F in July and as high as 36°C/96.8°F.