Dease Lake (pop. 335) is the largest community in the far NW of BC and is the regional service centre for the surrounding area of which the population is estimated to be approximately 3,500 to 4000 people. This figure includes the combined Tahltan Nation communities numbering approximately 2,600 people and ‘fly in/fly out’ mining workers of around 500 at any one time.
Dease Lake offers a complete range of businesses and services including a general store for groceries and hardware supplies, fuel (gas, diesel and propane), automotive repairs, hotel accommodations, and campsite/RV parks. For government services, there is a Service BC, Canada Post, RCMP detachment, K-12 school and a Northern Health regional health centre. The Stikine School District #87 offers meeting and conference facilities and Northern Lights College, in partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia, has a regional campus.
Location and History
Dease Lake is located in northern BC, on Highway 37 (Stewart-Cassiar Highway) 600 kilometres north of Terrace, BC, and 272 kilometres south of Watson Lake, Yukon.
In 1837 a Hudson’s Bay Company post, known as Lake House, was created by Robert Campbell on the shore of Dease Lake about 50 km North of the Stikine River and 150 km south of where the present day Alaska Highway passes. The Lake had been named in 1834 for Chief Factor Peter Warren Dease and, in 1872, would become a major junction for miners travelling to the gold rush in Cassiar. Although the fort was abandoned soon after, the town based around the fort lived on, and was renamed Dease Lake in 1934 by then-Chief Trader John McLeod. In 1941, Dease Lake became a transportation hub for supplies headed for the troops that were building the Alaska Highway.
Today, the main economic activities in Dease Lake and the surrounding area are mining, forestry, energy, fishing, tourism and transportation.
Dease Lake is the gateway to the breathtaking landscapes and scenery of the far northwest of BC. This vast area of wilderness is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
Dease Lake is the last major centre in BC before reaching the Alaska Highway and stands at the beginning of the scenic route to the historic gold rush town of Telegraph Creek and the dramatic Grand Canyon of the Stikine. Dease Lake straddles a pass separating the basins of the Dease River in the north and that of the Tanzilla in the south. The pass is part of the Continental Divide and is a division point between drainage to the Pacific Ocean via the Stikine and the Arctic Ocean via the Liard and Mackenzie Rivers.
Nearby and to the south, are the Mount Edziza, the Stikine and the Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness provincial parks. All three parks offer the adventurous traveller wilderness hiking and camping experiences along with abundant opportunities to see wildlife including grizzly and black bears, moose, wolves and more.
The Dease Lake area has an abundance of lakes and rivers for canoeing and kayaking as does the Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park. The Dease River is popular for white water rafting and Dease Lake and the nearby Boya Lake are popular fishing destinations offering fantastic scenery. Hunting in the area is also popular and there are a number of guide outfitters located in the town or nearby.