The mountain town of Wells, an 82 km (51mi) drive east of Quesnel, was built as a company town for Fred Wells’ Gold Quartz Mine, when the promise of more gold in the Cariboo gave many an opportunity to escape the unemployment of the depressed 1930s in what was then northern B.C.’s largest community and cultural centre. Fast-forward some 80 years. While there are now fewer than 300 year-round residents, many heritage buildings have been restored, including the Wells Hotel and the Sunset Theatre. Other architectural landmarks sport bright rainbow colours in a nod to the town’s vibrant arts scene. The Island Mountain Arts Society’s celebrated arts school offers classes in visual, literary and performing art, while the wildly popular ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art is held annually the first weekend in August.
The region’s outdoor adventures include the popular 7 Summits Bike & Hike Trek that lures mountain bikers from across the globe. The area has hundreds of kilometres of stunningly scenic trails to suit all users; hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling ‘ accessible right from town! Nearby Jack O’Clubs Lake boasts tranquil canoeing. In winter, try hut-to-hut cross-country adventures in the Mount Murray Area, sled dog adventures and the renowned Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run. Straddling the Trans Canada Snowmobile Trail and part of the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail, the Wells network of ‘sledder’ trails links you to Likely and the Prince George snowmobile clubhouse.