Quesnel is located on Hwy #97 in the Cariboo region of central British Columbia, Canada. Located nearly evenly between the cities of Prince George (122 km to the north) and Williams Lake (119 km to the south), it is on the main route to northern British Columbia and the Yukon.
To the east of Quesnel lie the Gold Rush Towns of Wells (74 km) and Barkerville (89 km), and Bowron Lake Provincial Park (120 km), a popular canoeing destination in the Cariboo Mountains. Barkerville is a restored living historic town with buildings and live re-enactments from the 1860's Cariboo Gold Rush.
Billy Barker Days is held every year on the third weekend in July in Quesnel. It celebrates Quesnel's heritage and the first gold miner to strike it rich in the area, William "Billy" Barker (for whom Barkerville is named).
Quesnel is located where the Quesnel River flows into the Fraser River. The name "Quesnel" derives from Jules Maurice Quesnel, who accompanied North West Company fur trader and explorer Simon Fraser on his journey to the Pacific Ocean in 1808. Quesnel came to called 'Quesnellemouth' to distinguish it from 'Quesnel Forks', 60 miles up the Quesnel river. In 1870 it had been shortened to Quesnelle and by 1900 it was spelled the way it is now. Quesnel is located along the gold mining trail known as the Cariboo Wagon Road and was the commercial centre of the Cariboo Gold Rush. It also marks one end of the Alexander MacKenzie Heritage Trail, the route taken by the famous explorer as he crossed Canada to the Pacific Ocean in 1793. Because of Quesnel's location on the Fraser River it was also an important landing for sternwheelers during 1862 until 1886 and then from 1909 until 1921. The last sternwheeler on the upper Fraser was Quesnel's own namesake craft, and home town product, the Quesnel.