Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Mystique of Fort St. John


The Mystique of Fort St. John

By Sora Kazesawa
The Daily Magi
November 21, 2063

The City of Fort St. John is a city in northeastern British Columbia, Canada. A member municipality of the Peace River Regional District, the city encompasses a total area of about 22 square kilometres (8.5 sq mi) with 22,756 residents at the 2061 census. Located at Mile 47, it is one of the largest cities along the Alaska Highway. 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. The site was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1958.

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 (20,000 m²) for a Roman Catholic Church and additional land for a hospital.

Fort St. John, located on the upland prairies north of the Peace River, experiences a cold humid continental climate (close to subarctic), with frigid winters and warm summers. A predominately southwesterly wind blows through town, with wind speeds averaging around 13.7 km (8.5 mi). Fort St. John uses Mountain Standard Time in winter and Pacific Standard 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 east of the Rocky Mountains, and thus has a climate much more similar to the prairies than the British Columbia interior west of the mountains. The frost-free period is much longer east of the mountains than west, and thus the Peace River area including Fort St. John can grow crops that cannot be grown in most of the province such as wheat and canola.

Fort St. John is one of the sunniest places in the province, especially in the winter and spring. The city holds British Columbia's record for most sunshine ever recorded in March (247.4 hours in 1965), May (373.5 hours in 1972), and November (141.3 hours in 1976).

As the urban centre for approximately 20,000 people, much of the region's recreational and cultural facilities are located in town. Within the city, Centennial Park groups much of these facilities in a central location close to residences and businesses. This large 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. In the center of town is the North Peace Cultural Centre which houses the Fort St. John Public Library, a theatre, and the Peace Gallery North art gallery.

The city's main recreation centre is the Pomeroy Sport Centre, formerly the Fort St. John Enerplex, that opened in 2010. It is a three-storey public facility with two National Hockey League-sized ice rinks, a concession, 12 dressing rooms, public meeting rooms, a retail juice outlet, an indoor near-Olympic-sized long track speed skating oval, and a 340 meter long walking track (the "Northern Vac Track"). All ice surfaces can be removed to provide event space in excess of 140,000 square feet. The facility also houses the Energetic Learning Campus, a satellite campus of the nearby North Peace Secondary School.

Fort St. John hosted the BC Winter Games in 1984 and the Northern BC Winter Games in 1975, 1976, 1994, 2000, 2007, 2014, 2024, 2033, 2045, 2055 and 2060. 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 given 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.

Fort St. John is served with several regional newspapers. The Alaska Highway News and the Dawson Creek Daily News, both part of the Glacier Media Group (previously owned by Canwest Global), are dailies available in the city. The Alaska Highway News, along with the free weekly and The Northerner, are published in town and focus more on Fort St. John news whereas the Dawson Creek Daily News is published in Dawson Creek. Local free magazine Northern Groove focuses on local music, arts, and live entertainment events in Fort St. John and area and is published monthly. The Northeast News is a free weekly community paper published on Thursday's with news coverage of communities in the Peace Region. Free alternative newspaper The Vault Magazine covers the Peace Region and is available bi-weekly in Fort St. John.

The radio stations broadcasting from Fort St. John include 98.5 Energy FM (CHRX-FM), 101.5 The Bear FM (CKNL-FM), 92.5 Sunrise FM (CIAM-FM) and 100.1 Moose FM (CKFU-FM), while 890 CJDC AM is available from Dawson Creek. Also available locally is CBYJ-FM 88.3, repeating CBC Radio One station CBYG-FM from Prince George. 100.1 Moose FM broadcasts Mitakihara Magi and Puella Magi athletic events as part of the Mitakihara Sports Radio Network. Fort St. John has several community web pages with news, entertainment, sports, classifieds and community events.

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