Fort St. John is the second-largest settlement along the Alaska Highway. The city of 20,000 people (2016) is in the northeastern British Columbia, approximately 382 km south of Fort Nelson and 75 km north of Dawson Creek. Fort St. John is the oldest European-established settlement in present-day British Columbia.
Fort St. John is a retail, service and industrial centre. The province's oil and gas industry is centred in the city. Forestry has become more important to the city since the opening of an oriented strand board plant in 2005. Much wood of the is exported to the United States. Agriculture has been the mainstay of the economy servicing and providing a market for the upland prairies.
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 town 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 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 about 500 m 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. The site was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1958.
After a lapse of nearly 40 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 5 acres (20,000 m²) for a Roman Catholic Church and additional land for a hospital.
Fort St. John, on the upland prairies north of the Peace River, experiences a cold humid continental climate (close to subarctic), with cold winters and warm summers. Although winters can be frigid, the area has milder winters than much of the rest of Canada (especially considering its relatively northerly latitude) due to the influence of the nearby Rocky Mountains. They tend to block Arctic air masses coming in from the north/northwest, although they can certainly still penetrate the area. Fort St. John uses Mountain Standard Time all year (same as Pacific Daylight Time in summer), and because of its northerly latitude experiences short daylight hours in winter and long daylight hours in summer.
Fort St. John is one of the sunniest places in the province, especially in the winter and spring.
- Greyhound Canada - station is at 10355 101 Avenue, with service to north to Fort Nelson and south to Dawson Creek.
Fort St John can be reached by driving north from Dawson Creek or south from Fort Nelson on Highway 97.
The only commercial airport between Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson is the Fort St. John Airport (CYXJ) a few kilometres east of the city. The two-runway airport has Air Canada Jazz, WestJet and other smaller airlines such as Central Mountain Air with regularly scheduled flights and North Cariboo Air providing chartered flights.
- BC Transit provides transportation around town.
Within the city the streets are laid out in a grid pattern. The main streets are the north-south 100 Street and the east-west 100 Avenue.
- Fort St. John North Peace Museum, 9323 100 St., ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 9AM-5PM. Ths museum tells the story of the Fort St. John region including First Nations' settlements, the fur trade, agricultural settlement, the growth of the town, and the Alaska Highway. Adults $6, seniors (65+) $5, students $4, children 5 & under free.
- North Peace Cultural Centre, 10015 100 Ave, ☎ . Gallery: Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM. In the centre of town, it houses the Fort St. John Public Library, a theatre, and the Peace Gallery North Art Gallery.
Every August, the Great Canadian Welding Competition is held in Fort St. John, which sees welding artists fill Centennial Park creating statues on the year's theme.
In January the annual High on Ice Winter Carnival has a frozen Centennial Park filled with ice sculptors competing and other special winter-related activities occurring around town.
Centennial Park includes the Fort St. John North Peace Museum, the North Peace Leisure Pool, the North Peace Arena (home of the Fort St. John Huskies), a separate arena for children, an 8-sheet curling rink, as well as an outdoor water park and speed skating oval. Other parks in the area include the city-maintained Fish Creek Community Forest, and about 10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of town the Beatton Provincial Park and Charlie Lake Provincial Park.
The city's main recreation centre is the Pomeroy Sport Centre, a three-storey public facility with two National Hockey League-sized ice rinks, an indoor near-Olympic-sized long track speed skating oval, and a 340 meter long walking track (the "Northern Vac Track").
- Sticky's Candy, 102-9536 111 St, The Gateway Plaza, ☎ . M-W 11AM-8PM, Th-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 10AM-6PM.
- Whole Wheat and Honey Cafe, 10003 100 St, ☎ . M-F 6AM-4PM, Sa 9AM-4PM. Breakfast and lunch. They source locally staples like eggs, honey, and bakery fresh bread, and purchase as much as possible from local butchers and grocers (much of it organic), and local produce seasonally when available. Vegetarian, gluten- and dairy-free options are always available. They serve fair trade organic coffee
- North Bar & Grill, 9830 100th Ave, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. Classic and modern dishes and offering wine and draught beer selections. Mains $18-38, sandwiches and burgers $14-18.
- Spicy Fusion, 8151 100 Ave, ☎ . Tu-Sa 11AM-2PM, 4PM-8:30PM; Su 4PM-8PM. Indian, with vegetarian and vegan choices. Mains $11-15.
- Saigon Noodles, 9600 93 Ave, Suite 1680, ☎ . M-Sa 11AM–8PM, Su noon–7PM. Vietnamese and Thai. Good phở.
- Blue Belle Motel, 9705 Alaska Rd S (along Alaska Highway at Mile 47, 400 m east at 100th Street intersection). 40 rooms, free high speed wireless Internet , fridge & microwave in every room, cable TV, kitchenettes & kitchen suites available, pet rooms available, complimentary in-room coffee & tea, coin laundry & laundry service, BBQs for guest use. From $85.
- Stonebridge Hotel Fort St. John, 9223 100 St, toll-free: . Fitness centre, free hot breakfast, free Wireless Internet, single/double kitchenette, onsite liquor store, games room, guest laundry facilities. From $99.
- Microtel Inn & Suites, 8407 93rd Street, toll-free: . Fitness room, free large-vehicle parking, and free hot breakfast. Non-smoking guest rooms are equipped with microwave, mini-refrigerator, HDMI-compatible flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. From $93.
|Routes through Fort St John|
|Watson Lake ← Fort Nelson ←||N S||→ Dawson Creek → Prince George|