Fort St. John


Life on the frontier isn't what it used to be. The burgeoning city of Fort St. John sports impressive infrastructure, culture and recreation choices – a far cry from the rugged outpost days of old. Experience British Columbia's past and future in this energetic town, known for its natural resources and outdoor entertainment.

Originally founded as a trading post, Fort St. John is the oldest European settlement on mainland British Columbia. As one of the northernmost populated centres in British Columbia, Fort St. John supports the surrounding rural area of over 69,000 people with a broad range of services and activities.

The city's age is a stark contrast to its youthful demographic. Home to young couples and BC's highest birthrate, Fort St. John is full of community spirit and opportunity. The current period of growth is the largest since a population influx spurred by the homesteading movement of the 1930s. Many of these original pioneers' descendants still live in the area, generations later.

Far from being stuck in one spot, Fort St. John's site has relocated several times over the years to accommodate growth and shifts in economic focus. The travelling spirit remains strong in Fort St. John and its surrounding area – as the gateway to many northern provincial parks, and mile 47 on the Alaskan Highway, Fort St. John serves as a launching point for northern adventures.

The nearby Boreal forest and Peace River valley cater to fishermen and campers. Local wildlife including bison, elk, moose, deer and bears share the great outdoors with hunters and hikers in the summer and cross-country skiers and snowmobilers in the winter.

For the less adventurous, winter and summer are also festival seasons in Fort St. John. Standout festivals include the North Peace Fall Fair, the World's Invitational Gold Panning Competition and the annual High on Ice winter festival.

Visit one of BC's first and last border towns with flights serviced by WestJet Encore.

Airport served by: YXJ

Destination basics

Fort St. John experiences a full range of four seasons, making it a great spot for year-round outdoor activities. Hikers, golfers, cross-country skiiers and snowmobilers will all find something to do in the nearby fields, forests and river valleys.

Visitors during winter months should come prepared for cold northern temperatures. Respite from the cold is found in the welcome warm air brought by chinook winds from the Rocky Mountains.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Fort St. John
Nestled amidst the breathtaking beauty of the Northern BC prairies, the city of Fort St. John is the largest city along Mile 47 of the Alaska Highway. Those who ride along the scenic stretch of this iconic highway are left mesmerized by its raw natural beauty, the kind that urges you to stay longer.

Home to one of the oldest-established European settlements in the province, this bustling city boasts of fascinating historical nuggets, an appetite for culture, and an unending passion for the outdoors. A walk through its downtown core will reveal facets of history from a bygone era that helped shaped its present-day identity, from The Courthouse, the Alaska News Company, to the Old Police Barracks. Another notable marker is CM Finch’s General Store (now the site of Whole Wheat N Honey), a historical landmark around which the rest of the town sprung up in the 1920s.

Across from the upbeat milieu of Centennial Park, the stretch of 100th Street is home to recreational and cultural houses, such as the North Peace Arena, the North Peace Cultural Centre, the Lido Theater, and Pomeroy Sports Centre. One of the city’s most important museums that chronicles its history, the North Peace Museum, is located nearby, as is the Peace Gallery North.

As you move toward the northern end of the city, concrete skylines give way to emerald expanses that truly define the personality of Fort St. John. The Fish Creek Community Forest features three interpretive trails that cut through its pine-forested beauty, whereas the Beatton Provincial Park and Charlie Lake lie a little outside city limits, but remain major attractions within the region.
Fort St. John is a hotbed for outdoor activities and recreational sports, thus keeping outdoor adventurers and sports fans engaged. For those with more artistic inclinations will find the various local art galleries, museums, and cultural performances here delightful.

Home to an incredible host of outdoor activities that revolve around its seasons, Fort St. John’s stunning natural beauty hosts a veritable playground under its vast open skies. Its wide expanses of prairie land, dense forested areas, and a broad nexus of waterways offer a range of activities fit for every preference, skill, and age.

Those with an intense liking for hikes will find a major network of trails within city limits. Wander along trails that span 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) at the nearby Fish Creek Community Forest, with a solid thicket of trees lining its three trails. Lying toward the end of the Northern Lights Community College, this forest features the Silviculture Traill, the Anatomy Trail, and the Multi-purpose trail. Get away from the bustle of the city to visit more remote forestlands. Hike up nearly 12 kilometers (7.45 miles) of picturesque forested pathways that lead up to the glittering Charlie Lake. Once here, relax and picnic along the lake’s sparkling shore, nestled amidst the rolling greens of the Beatton Provincial Park. During migratory season, this area is an excellent spot for aviary enthusiasts. The lake is also teeming with trout and walleye, offering great opportunities for fishing as well.

Fort St. John is home to several picturesque golf ranges that allow golfing enthusiasts to tee off in style. The Fort St. John Links Golf Course and the Lakepoint Golf and Country Club are both located within city limits, whereas the Lone Wolf Golf Course is located in the nearby town of Taylor.

Those looking for speedier activities will find that Fort St. John is a hotspot for ATVing. Trails for this sport can be found along Johnston Creek, Redfern Lake, Mile 80, and Stewart Lake. The Northland Trailblazers Snowmobile Club and the Moose ATV Club are local outfitters that offer support.

Come winter, this city’s verdant expanses give way to thickly carpeted snowy plains, perfect for skiing and snowmobiling. Hit 12 kilometers (7.45 miles) of perfect snow-dusted trails at the Beatton Provincial Park, or the Peace Island Park in nearby Taylor for cross-country skiing. Snowshoeing is possible much closer to home, at the Community Forest that features interpretive trails.

Fort St. John’s title of ‘Energetic City’ is justified in more ways than one, with its ardent passion for recreational sports. The city has long been the host of several skating, hockey, lacrosse, curling, and archery tournaments in the past, besides also hosting the Canada Winter Games events in 2015. To catch the city’s teams in action, head to the state-of-the-art Pomeroy Sports Centre, a comprehensive sports facility that features two NHL-sized ice rinks, four indoor Olympic-sized long track ovals, and an impressive Northern Vac Walking Track, among other amenities. Other facilities in the city include the North Peace Arena that entertains both ice and non-ice events. Cheer for the teams of FSJ Flyers and Fort St. John Huskies at this arena, home ground of the city’s hockey teams.

Museums & Galleries
The city’s only museum - the Fort St. John North Peace Museum - is located along the Alaska Highway. A visit to this museum educates you about the city’s journey through the years, from the time of indigenous settlement to the establishment of trading posts, and its consequent success as a center for the oil and gas industry. Explore diverse artifacts and photographs that highlight the city’s pioneers, and peruse some of the exhibits from the time the Alaska Highway was built. Outside of the city, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam and the Peace Canyon Dam offer riveting accounts of the reservoir’s construction.

Nearby, the Peace Gallery North, that is located within the North Peace Cultural Centre, displays a diverse range of exhibits by local artists that range from mixed media and pottery, to hand-pulled prints and paintings. On 94 Avenue, check out a collection of uniquely crafted, ceramic mugs at the North Peace Potters’ Guild.

In the thick of winter, the city hosts the High on Ice Winter Festival in Centennial Park, transforming the park into a winter wonderland of beautifully crafted ice sculptures. A walk around the park during the festival is highly recommended for anyone who appreciates ice art.

Performing Arts
The city’s cultural scene is largely centered around the North Peace Cultural Centre located in core downtown, and the Lido Theatre that has been around since 1956. The North Peace Cultural Centre hosts a mixed bag of events throughout the year, from concerts and musicals, to theatre productions, comedy shows, and small-scale local events. It is also home to the Peace North Gallery. The Lido Theatre on 100 Avenue brings local entertainers to the fore, and if you want to enjoy a casual cultural spree, head here for open mic and karaoke nights.
While Fort St. John’s culinary scene is not as evolved as its bigger provincial counterparts, it does offer a diverse range of options to suit varied preferences and budgets. From North American chain restaurants that offer value-for-money options, to independent cafes, to world cuisine hotspots, Fort St. John does not shy away from variety.

Downtown Fort St. John
Downtown Fort St. John is where you want to be if you’re keen on selecting from a decent range of eateries. For amazing breakfasts and light lunches, the many cafes that throng the avenues of downtown are your best bet. The Whole Wheat and Honey Cafe features an excellent chalkboard menu that serves freshly prepared muffins, eggs, cinnamon buns, scones, and other baked goodies in cozy environs. The Canadian Grind Coffee and Tea caters to your coffee and tea needs, with a selection of nearly 100 loose-leaf tea varieties. Other popular breakfast spots include the W Restaurant diner and TJ's Country Kitchen.

For more meal-focused needs, head to Roustabouts Restaurant and Bar on 100 Avenue. Bring a large appetite if you wish to finish their famous stuffed Yorkshire Pudding. Else, tuck into fish tacos or the Kona Burger at Original Joe's Restaurant & Bar.

The city also accommodates a few European tastes, so if you ever have a hankering for pizza and pasta, head to Olio’s for diverse options that range from the Sloppy Joe Pizza to the Bull’s-Eye Beef BBQ.

The city comprises of quite a few Asian eateries such as Sushi Heaven, Mama Panda, and Mastaro Sushi, that provide decent eats at reasonable prices.

Neighboring Areas
If you fancy a drink after a long day of exploring the city’s outdoors, hit the atmospheric corners of Casey’s Neighborhood Pub, a long-standing watering hole that promises good pub grub, drinks, and entertainment.

Fine dining establishments are hard to come by in the city, but if you yearn for a more unique setting, head to Jackfish Dundee's on Mile 52 that offers pristine views of Charlie Lake. The Mr Mikes Steakhouse on Alaska Road is also a hit with the locals, as is the Shepherd’s Inn located a little further on Mile 72.
Fort St. John

Province: British Columbia

Country: Canada

Fort St. John by the Numbers
Population: 18,609
Elevation: 695 meters / 2,275 feet
Average Annual Precipitation: 44.47 centimeters / 17.50 inches
Average Annual Snowfall: 183 centimeters / 72.04 inches
Average January Temperature: -15°C / 5°F
Average July Temperature: 15.8°C / 60.4°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 120 volts, 60Hz, AC

Time Zone: GMT-7; Mountain Standard Time (MST)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 250; 778; 236

Did You Know?
Fort St. John is the largest city in Northeastern British Columbia.

Fort St. John is located along the Alaska Highway in Northeastern British Columbia. It lies to the east of the Canadian Rockies. Fort St. John is located 214 kilometers (132.97 miles) to the west of Grand Prairie, AB, and 478 kilometers (297.01 miles) to the northeast of Prince George, BC.

What was meant to be a search for a route to the Pacific Ocean, turned out to be a serendipitous moment for Fort St John, discovered by Alexander Mackenzie in 1793. The next year, the North West Company Trading Post established. It was initially called the Rocky Mountain Fort and it became a trading post for the Beaver and Sikanni First Nations. This fort was the oldest European settlement in the province. Since its establishment, Fort St. John relocated several times to accommodate the growing requirements of the fur trading industry, however, the present-day location saw the most amount of economic growth. 

From the the time C.M Finch opened a general store on the corner of 100th Street and 100 Avenue, the rest of the city’s growth clustered around this present-day landmark. The later years saw an accelerated growth and a spurt in population. In the 1930s, farming in the Peace River Valley brought about this boom, while in the later years, the city became a major transportation hub owing to the construction of the Alaska Highway. Around the latter half of the 20th Century, the city’s oil industry gained traction, while the area’s natural bounty contributed largely to building the robust forest industry it is known for today.

Today, the city holds the title of "Energetic City," a label that reflects its bountiful deposits of oil and natural gas, and its foray into hydroelectric power.

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