Lonely Planet – Mackenzie, B.C.

By Bryan • canada, Kingston, mackenzie, travel • 24 Jan 2010

LPBC Wandering around the downtown yesterday landed myself inside a rather busy Indigo bookstore.  Whenever I’m in an Indigo/Chapters I have a routine route I take.  I’ll wander the new releases (trade/paper/hard), move through the ‘theme’ tables, then meander upstairs the the ultra ‘no-one-would-pay-normal-price’ discounted publications.  This is followed by a stop at the travel section.  This particular branch of Indigo didn’t stock the infamous LP Afghanistan (I saw a copy in Riga, Latvia a few years ago) but it does have LP British Columbia/Yukon.

I remember reading somewhere quite awhile ago a lament regarding the very unflattering description given to Prince George by LP writers in a previous edition so I was curious to see the description in this latest edition.  The editors, probably acting upon loads of PG hate mail, have apparently revamped the description, opting instead to focus on the rich First Nation history of the area in lieu of the detailed description the areas pulp mills.

My hometown, Mackenzie, also makes a paragraph in the book.  Not surprisingly though, the majority of that paragraph is dedicated to the Mackenzie Tree Crusher.

treecrusherThe Tree Crusher…is…well…unique…in its own way.  It is definitely a conversation piece and it probably does drag the tourists in with it’s name alone.  Obviously, as a landmark (or a item in general) its not really keeping with the times…and it’s probably not really what one would like in the Lonely Planet which (love it or hate it) is the definitive independent international travel companion.  No mention of the amazing easily accessible alpine of Morfee Mountain or the award winning snow of Powder King.  Nope…the international image of Mackenzie is a giant machine that pushes over mature timber and grinds it into the forest floor.

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15 Responses

  1. Melissa

    Kind of sad, isn’t it? Mackenzie is the best kept secret in the world as far as tourism is concerned. They’ve got so many outdoor adventure destinations that people should be flocking there for the hiking, canoeing, trail rides, fishing, hunting, mountaineering, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, camping, fresh air, and clean water. If someone could figure out how to get the word out to the world, post-mill Mackenzie could be saved!

    • Tourisms a tough industry though, especially when a community is isolated. Distances are far, bus opportunities limited and I suspect that there would be hostility toward any kind of Rocky Mountain-style large-scale tourism. Macktown has a new tourism development plan out and it places and emphasis on branding and also building relationships with the region (PK, Mcleod Lake, Chetwynd etc.) but tourism really remains fringe industry at the moment with some outfitters doing well with their set of clients but not much of a secondary support industry has grown out of such entrepreneurial activities. Tourism is also one of those industries where one is literally competing against the world. As a traveller, my destination options include 181+ other countries, each with it’s own unique features.

      I think tourism is an important component of diversification, but I’m skeptical about it’s ability to become an keystone of a northern economy. The region has the goods, it just doesn’t really have the infrastructure. Mackenzie is in a real tough bind for options. My dad mentioned something about a coffee roaster trying to set up shop in the old Finning building. Apparently it fell through, but I think that is where the town needs to be heading…some real different industries moving in…ones that are not dependent upon a staples economy or subject to the whims of flip-floppy international toursit market. How could they get stuff like that? No idea…

  2. Sue

    I’ve always thought that it has been rather daring (and alright……. red neck) for Mackenzie to continue to advertise and promote the tree crusher in this world of political correctness, environmental concerns and conservationists. Even though it should be embarassing for us (and maybe is for some) I’m glad we have it. I remember being appalled at first when they moved it into town from 39 mile, but now it’s just there and I really hardly notice it. But every spring, summer and fall and even a few times in the winter, I see people stopped there, taking pictures, climbing around it and picnicing beside it. It does draw a few tourists and even some are better than none in these tough times.
    I really think the tourist market lies in the European traveller……someone seeking untouched wilderness etc. Selfishly I’m secretly glad that we don’t get the crowds. I love being able to walk 5 minutes from my house and see wildlife and untouched snow. I often see more moose on my way to work than vehicles and just today we had a deer on the soccer field at Mac 1.

  3. I agree that the Tree Crusher shouldn’t be removed. It’s a good magnet, but I think that it should probably be deemphasized in favor of other attributes. I’ve always felt that Morphee Mountain Road should be upgraded to increase accessibility into the alpine. Nothing too fancy as the existing road is quite good…just grade it, fill in some pot holes and create a large parking space at the top. There are few places that offer such sedentary access to mountain environments

  4. Sue

    yes – we went up to the top of Morfee last summer and had an awesome day of alpine hiking. It was a pretty hairy ride up and back though……..lots of washouts.

  5. Ron

    Another attribute that is often overlooked is the fact that Mackenzie sits on the edge of a vast wilderness. True wilderness for its own sake has an appeal for some people and is probably in increasingly short supply worldwide.The wilderness here just is. It is not protected in a park and exist because it is remote and rugged. In a twenty minute walk from my back door I could be standing on ground that nobody has ever stood on before. North of Mackenzie the Muskwa Ketchika protected area has been called the Serengeti of North America because of its wildlife populations particularly ungulates and wolves

    • I was just wandering through that area via GoogleEarth looking at some of my old stomping grounds in the Oslinka, Bear Valley and Factor Ross. That area is massive. The Globe just had a piece on tourism opportunities in BC and mentioned the Great Northern Circle Route…Mackenzie was left out.

      Suzuki, I believe, has forgotten the important role that forestry can play in sequestering carbon, not only in new forests, but in forest products as well. If a forest needs protecting as a carbon sink, it’s not ours…it’s the forests in South America and Russia.

  6. Ron

    Today that nutcase Suzuki is calling for 50% of the BC landbase to be conserved to reduce global warming. This will just be another bureaucratic nightmare. We already manage the forests on a sustainable basis. These guys are idiots

  7. Ron

    As soon the road between Ft St James and Mackenzie is upgraded we will be on the tourist cicuit

  8. Ron

    No asphalt but the road will be what is called “all weather” ie: a very good gravel surface. The road will be used by logging trucks and ore trucks from the Terrane mine

  9. Andrew Morton

    Sadly, that Indigo no longer exists. That sadness is compounded by the fact that I live around the corner from it now, and pass by it at least once a day. First large-format store closure in five years, too. Chapters Indigo has since closed two; of those three, two of them were on my list of Chapters/Indigo stores that were examples of good planning (Indigo Kingston and Chapters Runnymede in Toronto, which is probably one of the best examples of adaptive reuse I’ve ever seen). The third, of course, is World’s Biggest Bookstore, which is high on my list of Indigo’s planning sins. Frankly, as big boxes in power centres most of the chain’s stores are on that list, though given its form and location WBB was even higher – not the highest and best use of the land. (On the plus side, the fact that WBB and Runnymede are both closing mean that my old store won’t be.)

  10. Is Indigo merely downsizing? Or is it a product of online competition? Do you know of anything going into the Princess property?

    • Andrew Morton

      I think it’s a multitude of factors…I’d say that online competition (both from Amazon and from indigo.ca) is a large part of it, though. Whenever people asked why the online price was invariably lower than the in-store price, I tended to tell people that Chapters Indigo and indigo.ca were two separate companies who shared only a name and a warehouse, which is effectively the case as one competes directly against Amazon (and, resultantly, its own bricks-and-mortar stores), and the other is a “cultural department store” that is focusing more on its gift product than on its core business.

      That said, the reasoning behind the Kingston Indigo closing was that the market couldn’t support two large-format stores, and the Chapters in the Townships was “a more profitable location”, which I feel is horseshit as there was a captive audience of students downtown. (I think Empire Cinemas is feeling the pain after having relocated from the CBD to what amounts in the student mind to Siberia, and I reckon Indigo will feel that pain eventually.)

      As for the two Toronto locations, essentially the landlords increased the rent beyond what Indigo was willing to pay. WBB wasn’t a huge shock, given that it’s right in the downtown core, and was a 2.5 storey building in an area where 40-50 storeys aren’t uncommon (and there’s a 78-storey building under construction three blocks north). There’ve been articles about the potential closure for a year and a half now, and there are three other large-format stores within a mile, including two of the company’s flagship stores (Bay/Bloor and Eaton Centre; my old haunt Chapters John & Richmond is the third LF store). The bigger shock was Runnymede – repurposed movie theatre in an up-and-coming neighbourhood. If you somehow find yourself in Toronto between now and mid-January, I’d pay it a visit. Best Chapters in Toronto (that isn’t John & Richmond).

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