*inverted image courtesy of my daughter
*Click this link for an in-depth background on why I wrote this post – you may be pleasantly surprised.
In a world where words are flowery and images fabricated it is hard to differentiate truth.
When you travel do you focus on truth, what you want to see and experience or what you are led to believe you will experience?
If I were to coax you into leaving your home in Fiji for example, and book an airline ticket would your destination be Prince George, B.C.?
Would you bypass Vancouver on the west coast, Kelowna in the Okanagan or even Toronto? I highly doubt it.
Prince George itself isn’t necessarily a destination, it is a ‘pass through’ city; on route to Alaska or other places up North, so you might think.
Even when we wrap a package in beauty the gift inside is often times disappointing. That’s not to say there is nothing beautiful in this area because there certainly is.
Prince George is a Northern B.C. town with a population that fluctuates between 60 – 80k people at times.
A town where you can’t tell a drunk driver from a sober one because of the horrendous potholes we try to avoid in the roads that never get attention from the powers that be.
A town that smells like rotten cabbage from the pollution of the pulp mills and has such bad air quality in the summer months we are urged to stay indoors.
We have an arts community that is monopolized so artists suffer, especially the emerging, and crime and alcoholism in ridiculous proportions based on per capita studies.
We also don’t have many women in this town – so many dress like men it’s difficult to tell one from the other. And why bother anyway, ‘all dressed up and no where to go’.
On the up side, even though we have a very high rate of cancer, we were just given a new cancer center so that’s great, except the best Oncologist was placed in hand-cuffs and ousted out of the country.
And, the buses will drive us home for free if we are caught outside on a bad air day.
Our university (UNBC) is pretty great, thank God for all the new people from other cities and countries that are adding some sparkle to our community.
It is said how one looks on the outside reflects the inside; so if a tourist compared Prince George to a person they may think they have an open anti-depressant Rx.
Over the years I have heard Prince George referred to as “Pigs Gorge” and it feels that way sometimes. Sometimes, depending where I am when I travel, I am too embarrassed to let the people discussing P.G. know that’s where I was raised.
If they do find out, they offer words of pity for the lack of culture and red-neck ideals. There is such a stigma attached to P.G. living…
There is no place on this planet that doesn’t suffer the same or similar downfalls so we have to find beauty in the ugly. But it might be difficult for a tourist to do this if their impression is based on false and misleading information.
Now if you were to take the beauty of the package I spoke of earlier, put that inside and wrapped it with the disappointing, Prince George may be a little easier to swallow, at least a traveler would know what to expect.
If I book a hotel online that is supported by some fabulous imagery and have to fight off cockroaches in the dead of the night you can bet I will want my money back, won’t give it a good review and will never return, neither will my friends.
Nothing is more disappointing to a tourist than being deceived about a destination. TourismPG’s initiative to brighten up the city and elicit tourist visits and dollars in light of the Canada Winter Games 2015 being held here is admirable.
But it’s said they have a “Let’s just suck them in, we’ll take their money once they get here and then it will be too late” attitude. This is what is heard (or not) whispered behind closed doors, what’s read (or not) between the lines of the tourist literature. That’s not true right? Are tourists undervalued? Are we going about getting them here the wrong way? Or, are visitors just misinformed.
The city of Prince George is an eye sore and stinky mess, plain and simple.
But don’t shy away, make the outlying areas your destination because that is where the true beauty is to be found; just pretend you’re on Mars or the Moon and dodge the craters in the road on the way through.
Understand that the cabbage smell is the foundation of community livelihood and economics, girls dress like boys because the winters are so harsh and long, the art community is lacking because no one else steps up, the potholes are hard to keep up with because of the frost pushing up the ground, the cancer center and university are changing our lives…and what we love and are so proud of, is the great outdoors.
We do things you won’t find in any other part of the world; like people wearing parkas because it’s cold, but the sun is shining so we have flip flops on our feet, snowmobiles racing across open water in the summer….Prince George isn’t about what you see, it is about what we do.
The area surrounding P.G. is known as the “lakes district”. If you are an outdoors person who loves to independently explore the wilderness this is definitely the place to be.
Camping, fishing, hiking, snowboarding, sledding, dirt-biking, caving, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, river floats, hunting – the list goes on. But know you will be left to your own devices however as P.G. isn’t based on tourism per se and there aren’t many standard tour companies to take you.
Many people will wonder why I wrote this and many more pissed because I did.
Like Tourism PG I have hope for the future of tourism in Northern BC.
I did it for you, the tourist whose never been but planning, maybe visiting this year or coming specifically for the Canada Games 2015.
I want you to visit Prince George and surrounding areas with your eyes wide open so you can discover the true beauty and walk away feeling you had a great trip; in spite of the stink and craters, because the scenery is stunning and outdoor opportunities unlimited!
Because, Prince George. B.C. and our culture, is about outdoor living!
Now, would Prince George, B.C. be your destination?
A comment a fellow Prince George resident left on my FB page:
He wrote: I think from a tourist standpoint you are right Kelly. The city spends to much resources on cleaning up the crime and should do a lot more for cleaning the grounds and trying to make it a nice place visually even if it does stink. The real beauty of the north is not found in the city but the surrounding areas, with that being said it has a lot more to offer a resident then a tourist. I would never trade our laid back lifestyle for one that always feels rushed and personally I would travel to places like Kitimat, Bella Coola, Alaska or anywhere away from the rush of daily life then the big cities… PG is not so bad as long as you are not a tourist, there are much nicer and cleaner places to visit.
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I think this writer speaks for many PG residents, at least he does for me. I agree PG is more suited to ‘entertaining’ residents with the pool and the CN Center for example; but not necessarily ‘supporting’ the residents – ie: poorly maintained and hazardous road conditions taxpayers pay to have repaired and they never are –
The city will need to check their priorities twice if they expect to find a balance and tap into the tourism industry – and that starts with truth, not embellishment, oversight or negligence!
Listen to your selves this isnt Vancouver and if you think its cold now you should have lived here 50 years ago when it was really cold,yes downtown has gone down hill thats because the city has spread out and the smell lol well this is nothing compared to what it used to be I was born and raised here and wouldnt want to leave
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An awesome read. Not too many people like the truth. I think you did a wonderful job.
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Janice, I’m glad you read this story with an open mind. The tourism industry is changing in light of Canada’s new (and recent) pyschographic research that supports experiential travel. I have been using this style of writing which targets the psychographic personality traits of a traveler for years prior to the tourism industry being privy to the term or it’s effects.
There is nothing new in the dynamics of this story, only a learning curve for people to understand who are new to the idea of it. This story has been up and running on a different blog for a long-time and unfortunately I lost the comments when it was transferred over to this site (a learning curve for me about websites).
The comments from international travelers and many locals were the same as yours – that truth will prevail. It will build respect, patience and trust in the community. And they all said they will definitely visit Prince George!
If the audience reads the “entire story” (between the lines) they will see I am not bitter about Prince George but promoting it.
I hope you had a chance to read the back story as well. http://wp.me/p2SkWH-NP
Wow. I guess this is your opinion. Categorizing all women in PG to Dress like men is very rude. I was born and raised there and now live in Vancouver. Many women I know dress very nice. When I go visit I still enjoy shopping as PG has very many unique shops. Not to mention all the great places to eat. PG has hosted many National events and those that come from far and wide are blown away by the city and it’s hospitality. You truly are bitter about something in PG so please don’t take your personal opinion out on the rest of the world. Keep on moving and please don’t return to PG as PG is obviously to good for you.
Laurie, I hope you had a chance to read the backstory – http://wp.me/p2SkWH-NP
If you read the “entire story” (between the lines and with an open mind) you would understand I am not bitter about Prince George but promoting it.
Here’s what I had to say about this article when I posted it to my facebook page today. :
I actually agree with this. I realize that the writer is getting a lot of negative feedback in regards to some of her comments but overall she is right. Some of the references the author wrote have been taken offense to, which I understand. Unless you sit back and look at the comment in a different light.
I cannot speak for the author, but I can put my own spin on the reference to “all women dressing like men”. I got married in August of this year. When my MOH and I went to look for a dress that was suitable for her to wear we kept coming up empty handed. We weren’t looking for prom dresses, nor were we looking for sundresses. Every store we visited in the city was the same…high prices, low selection. High prices, small sizes. Lower end prices, but again, tiny sizes. We found lots of sundresses, lots of dresses that looked like a hooker should wear them, tons of dresses that were so small that a 12 year old girl could wear them (not a woman as the tag so misleadingly read, and a L, at that!), and tons that looked like they came straight out of the 80’s! There are tons of places to find jeans, hoodies, tee shirts, and shorts. Again, mainly if you are built like a prepubescent girl. PG has little selection in the way of women’s attire! Real sized women, not the ones built like the mannequin in the front window! No wonder so many women here wear men’s clothing! And what do we have to dress up for?! Where in the city can we go? The bar?! Where the much younger crowds hang out?
The City of PG needs to take better care of those that live here. Provide us the services we need such as snow removal in the winter. No BS excuses about not having the funds to do it, or blaming it on the weather! We all know it snows here! It is to be expected and should be planned for properly. It is hardly rocket science to figure out! Nor should it require thousands of dollars on reports being done by agencies outside of PG to figure out that the snow needs to be removed from the streets! The superficial stuff for appearances sake will not make tourists happy, and it does not make residents of PG happy. PG has a horrible reputation for crime, drugs, and the potholes, to name a few.
Honestly, I could care less about the winter games coming here. It is just a money grab and does nothing to help the majority of the residents who live here. Why not fix our sidewalks? Fix our roads? Help out local businesses? Build on tourism by drawing people here with some of the good things PG has to offer. I have lived in PG for 4 years and I rely on friends and neighbors to tell me where the best camping, fishing, swimming, and hiking places are located. I do not read that in any local tourism pamphlets. Sure, we hear a lot about Forests of the World and places like that, but we never hear about other places in the area we could utilize and enjoy. The tourists that come here for the winter game aren’t going to be exposed to the beauty that surrounds us in outlying areas. They will get a very small picture of all that we have to offer. And you can bet that they will pick up, or possibly overhear from locals, how badly we get treated. What if they chose to drive around our city and look at neighborhoods outside of where the winter games is being held? Won’t they be impressed when they hit a pothole and cause damage to their vehicle. Surely they’ll want to come back, right?! Hah, very doubtful!!!
When the CITY of PG starts taking better care of its own citizens, then, and only then, can we pull our reputation out of the gutter! Come on PG, man up! Fix our streets, fix our sidewalks, help out our local businesses, plow the snow off our streets!
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I love your honesty Tara! What the nay-sayers don’t seem to realize is the truth doesn’t always hurt… This story is a form of tough love for PG.
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Thanks Kelly! I appreciated your honesty as well! The article was very well written. You had the courage to say what a lot of PG’ers only complain about on their facebook pages. You aren’t the first one to say these things, nor will you be the last. I did have one other comment in regards to the women dressing as men. I believe it should be taken as a compliment. Many women are proud to be a a Canadian gal, a country gal, etc. They are proud of being strong, working hard, and being themselves. Your comment, in my opinion, should be taken as a compliment. Women here aren’t scared of hard work! They aren’t scared of being themselves! They aren’t afraid, period. They want to be who they are. They aren’t concerned about being superficial, about being beauty queens. Their beauty comes from within. They don’t need the band aid fixes of makeup, flashy jewellery, and sequined gowns to prove who they are. They simply do not need it. Their strength, their value, their self worth is worth far more than any glittery gown.
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Well said! You understood this story very well Tara and I will be spending some time on your blog in the near future – you have some interesting topics! FYI – I do accept guest posts if you’d like to contribute – perhaps a story of your transition (struggles and niceties) to PG? or something else travel related. Cheers and please stay in touch!
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Thanks Kelly! I would love that! =) I really enjoy writing, and I am very opinionated, lol. =)
I look forward to it!
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