Community Description

The City of Fort St. John is a small city in Northeastern British Columbia, Canada. A member municipality of the Peace River Regional District, the city covers an area of about 22 square kilometres (8 sq mi) with 17,402 residents (2006 census). Located at Mile 47, it is the second largest city along the Alaska Highway, after Whitehorse. Originally established in 1794 as a trading post, Fort St. John is the oldest European-established settlement in present-day British Columbia. Fort St. John is served by the Fort St. John Airport. The municipal slogan is, Fort St. John: The Energetic City.

Over the years the community has been moved a number of times for varying economic reasons. The present location is thought to be its sixth. The original trading post built in the area was named Rocky Mountain House (not to be confused with the modern Alberta city by that name. It was established one year after Sir Alexander Mackenzie explored the area in 1793.

One of a series of forts along the Peace River constructed to service the fur trade, it was located southwest of the present site of Fort St. John.

The Dunneza and Sikanni First Nations used it as a trading post. It was also used as a supply depot for further expeditions into the territory. The fort closed in 1805. Fort d’Epinette was built in 1806 by the North West Company.

It was renamed Fort St. John in 1821 following the purchase of the North West Company by the Hudson’s Bay Company. This fort was located about 500 metres downstream from the mouth of the Beatton River, which at that time was known as the Pine River (d’epinette in French). It was shut down in 1823.

After a lapse of nearly forty years, Fort St. John was reopened in 1860 on the south side of the Peace River, directly south of the present community. It was moved in 1872 by Francis Work Beatton directly across the river. This community lasted until 1925 when the river ceased to be the main avenue of transportation and the fort was moved closer to where settlers were establishing homesteads.

The new town was constructed at Fish Creek, northwest of the present community, on the new trail to Fort Nelson. It did not shut down until 1975. In 1928, C. M. Finch moved his general store to two quarters of land where he also built a government building to house the land, telegraph and post offices. The present site for the town was firmly established after he donated five acres for a Roman Catholic Church and additional land for a hospital.

Community Links

BC Tourism
Council of Forest Industries
City of Fort St. John
Chamber of Commerce

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