Williams Lake, BC, incorporated as a city in 1929, population 10 832 (2011c), 10 744 (2006c). The City of Williams Lake is located in the Cariboo country of central British Columbia, 545 km northeast of Vancouver. Williams Lake received its name from the adjacent lake, named in 1860 after Chief William of the Sugar Cane Indian Reserve. The Shuswap people's name for the location, "Columneetza," means "the gathering place of the lordly ones." The highway, the railway and enlarged airport facilities have been essential in the city's development, especially in recent years.
Its economy was long based primarily on agriculture, as the service centre and market for the numerous cattle ranches of the great Cariboo and Chilcotin plateaus. In recent decades forestry, logging and lumbering have overtaken ranching in importance. Mining, tourism, service industries and government offices give a varied economic base for the city. Williams Lake is also the home, every July, of the famous Williams Lake Stampede.