Fort St. John

Feature Type:City - A populated place with legally defined boundaries, incorporated as a city municipality under the provincial Municipal Act.
Status:
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: N side of Peace River near BC-Alberta boundary, NE of Prince George, Peace River Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 56°15'09''N, 120°50'48''W at the approximate location of the Municipal Hall.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 94A/7
Related Maps: 94A/2
94A/7

Origin Notes and History:

Fort St. John (Hudsons Bay Company post) adopted in the 9th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 30 June 1910. Incorporated as a Village Municipality 31 December 1947; Fort St. John (Village) confirmed 17 January 1951 on 94A/SE. Re-incorporated as a Town Municipality (1 June 1958 ?). Re-incorporated as a City Municipality (date not cited); Fort St. John (City) confirmed 15 December 1981 on 94A/2.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Fort St. John Post Office was opened 1 April 1912.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Fort St. John was established in 1806 by the Northwest Company, to replace the abandoned Rocky Mountain Fort (sic). Situated on the north bank of the Peace River a few miles below the Pine River, and 20 miles below present-day Fort St. John. The fort was burned in 1823 by Indians. Subsequently the Hudsons Bay Company rebuilt Fort St. John higher up the Peace River in the NW angle of the junction of the Peace and Beatton Rivers. Origin of name unknown - perhaps from some employee.

Source: Provincial Archives of BC "Place Names File" compiled 1945-1950 by A.G. Harvey from various sources, with subsequent additions

History dates back to 1805. Trading post established on North Pine River; factor murdered and post burned about 1831 (William Ogilvie's report of his 1891 journey, Sessional Papers 11 - 13A, Vol XXVI #8, 1893). Ultimately located on the Peace River opposite what is known as Fort St. John Bar. Two companies had posts there - Revillion and Lampson & Hubbard. The [gold] rush to the Yukon passed about 2 miles from the present site of Fort St. John by way of the old Dunvegan Trail. Settlement began 1912. Hudson's Bay Post moved from river (Sec 19, Tp 83, R 18) to present site at Fish Creek in 1923. See also the municipality's own website.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Many of the early fur-trading forts were rebuilt on different locations, sometimes with changes of name. Rocky Mountain House, built around 1798 some six miles upstream from modern Fort St. John, can be regarded as the original fort. In this case, Fort St. John is the oldest white settlement on the mainland of British Columbia.

Source: Akrigg, Helen B. and Akrigg, G.P.V; British Columbia Place Names; Sono Nis Press, Victoria 1986 /or University of British Columbia Press 1997

There is no accurate record of how the Fort was named, although Daniel Williams Harman refers to it in his diary of 1806 as "St. John's". Other indications are that early fur traders established the fort on the feast day of Saint John The Baptist, and according to Donald Beaton, grandson of the last HBC factor, the Indians referred to it as "St. Jean Baptiste." (The Big Dam Country, by Bruce Ramsay & Don Murray, published 1969 by Don Murray and printed in The Alaska Highway News, Fort St. John)

Source: included with note