Peace River Country

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For the municipal district, see Municipal District of Peace No. 135.
Not to be confused with Peace River Regional District.

The Peace River Country (or Peace Country) is an aspen parkland region around the Peace River in Canada. It spans from northwestern Alberta to the Rocky Mountains in northeastern British Columbia, where a certain portion of the region is also referred to as the Peace River Block.


The Peace River Country[1] includes the incorporated communities of Fort St. John, Dawson Creek,[2] Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd in British Columbia. Major communities in the Alberta portion of the Peace Country include Grande Prairie, Peace River, High Level and Fairview. It has no fixed boundaries but covers an area of approximately 100,000 miles² to 150,000 miles² (260,000 km² to 390,000 km²).[3]

In British Columbia, the area extends from Monkman Provincial Park and Tumbler Ridge in the south, to Hudson's Hope and the Williston Lake in the west, to Fort St. John and Charlie Lake in the north. The term is used also in a broader sense to mean the whole of the Northeastern Interior past the Rockies, including Fort Nelson and other parts of the Liard drainage, and before W.A.C. Bennett Dam included the upper Peace River through its canyon between Finlay Forks and Hudson's Hope. In Alberta, the region stretches from Grande Prairie and Valleyview in the south, to High Prairie and Lesser Slave Lake in the east, to Fort Vermilion, High Level and Rainbow Lake in the north.[4]


Dane-zaa (Beaver) tipi in winter near the Peace River, Alberta, 1899

The area was first explored by Sir Alexander MacKenzie in 1789, when he travelled along the Peace River, eventually reaching the Mackenzie River and the Arctic Ocean. In 1793 he used the same route to reach the Pacific Ocean.[5] Subsequently, the region saw a surge in the fur trade, with forts [6] built along the river from Fort Vermilion to Hudson's Hope.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the farming potential of the area was advertised by the federal government, but settlement was scarce because of difficult travel conditions through the muskeg. With the arrival of the railway in 1916, and following the opening of land for homesteaders in 1910, farming and ranching took off in the fertile Peace Country. The settlement of the British Columbia portion of the agricultural area, known as the Peace River Block, originated as a railway grant which wound up for a time under Dominion jurisdiction and managed by offices in Alberta until returned to British Columbia following ongoing jurisdictional conflicts.[7]

Forestry plays a large role in the Peace Country, and as a result, pulp mills have been built in Chetwynd, Peace River and Grande Prairie since the 1970s.

Economy registered a new boost with the discovery of oil and gas in the region. In 1952, gas was struck in the Fort St. John No. 1 well, and the first refinery was built in 1957 at Taylor. In the mid-1970s, the massive Elmworth natural gas field in northwest Alberta was discovered, as well as other major gas fields in British Columbia and Alberta and both Fort St. John and Grande Prairie have experienced rapid economic and population growth as a result.


The city of Grande Prairie and the prairie land

Peace Country contains Canada's northernmost lands suitable for agriculture. Crops raised include canola, oats, peas and barley. Some cattle ranching and beekeeping is also done in the area. In 2006, the region accounted for 14.4% of Canada's total bison-producing herd.[8]

Other industries include oil and gas extraction and forestry. Lumber, oriented strand board, and pulp are produced in many forestry mills throughout the region.


Peace Country is crossed by the southern leg of the Alaska Highway, the western extremity of Alberta Highway 43 and the southern portion of the Mackenzie Highway. Other important transportation routes include the northern part of Alberta Highway 2, Alberta Highway 35, British Columbia Highway 29, British Columbia Highway 97, and Alberta Highway 49.[4]

Regional air transport hubs are Grande Prairie Airport and Peace River Airport in Alberta and Fort St. John Airport in British Columbia.

Health care is provided through Alberta Health Services and British Columbia's Northern Health.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pettit, Donald A., The Peace: An exploration in photographs, 2001
  2. ^ Clare, Gerald R., Dawson Creek: An Illustrated History, 2008
  3. ^ Henry M. Leppard (January 1935). "The Settlement of the Peace River Country" Geographical Review, Vol. 25, No. 1 , pp. 62-78
  4. ^ a b Discover the Peace Country. "Peace Country Map". Retrieved 2006-01-07. 
  5. ^ Les McLaughlin, Legion Magazine. "Peace River Country". Archived from the original on 2006-03-02. Retrieved 2006-01-07. 
  6. ^ Pettit, Donald A. The Peace: A history in photographs, 2008
  7. ^ Pettit, Donald A., The Peace: A history in photographs, 2008
  8. ^

External links[edit]