Fort Saint John
Located 440 kilometres northeast of Prince George, Fort St. John is British Columbia’s oldest interior settlement, established in 1794. The Doig River, Blueberry River and Halfway River First Nations tribes have inhabited the region for 10,000 years, and a small population remains to this day. Still a small town with only 17,000 residents, Fort St. John encompasses wide-open prairies and scenic river valleys. Agriculture, oil and gas extraction, and logging are the region’s primary industries. Surrounded by lakes and streams, Fort St. John offers a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities.
In spring, anglers flock to Charlie Lake Provincial Park, 13 kilometres north of the city, in search of northern pike and walleye. The park’s aspen forest is home to black bear, moose and snowshoe hares. On the opposite shore, Beatton Provincial Park is one of Fort St. John’s top attractions in summer, offering a scenic swimming area and hiking trails. In winter, skiers can get a serious workout on 12 kilometres of cross-country trails.
Fish Creek Community Forest on the north side of Fort St. John includes 5 kilometres of flat and moderately hilly hiking trails. Informative signs along the way provide information about the surrounding conifer and aspen forest and its inhabitants. Immediately south of Fish Creek, Northern Lights College is the access point for 10 kilometres of paved trails that wind through forested and open areas.
To learn more about the region’s history, visit the Fort St. John North Peace Museum, which is 4 kilometres south of the college. Historic buildings on the property include a one-room schoolhouse, a trapper’s cabin and a dentist’s office. Another of Fort St. John’s top attractions, the museum displays 6,000 items, ranging from early fossils and arrowheads to wildlife mounts and farm tools. The main building is easy to locate due to the 41-metre-tall oil derrick out front.
The peace museum is within walking distance of Centennial Park, a popular spot for picnics and summer festivals. The park has a water feature for kids, a skateboard park, flower gardens and a sand volleyball court. In the northwest corner of the park, a visitor centre is available to help newcomers plan their adventures in and around Fort St. John.
Two blocks north of the park, Roustabouts consistently garners praise from its loyal fan base. One of Fort St. John’s top restaurants, Roustabouts has a menu that cannot be easily categorized. Entrees include spicy curry dishes, chicken pizza, Thai coconut shrimp and a Tex-Mex chimichanga. Three blocks to the north, Whole Wheat 'n' Honey is another of Fort St. John’s top restaurants. Serving a range of healthy breakfast and lunch dishes, the restaurant is known for its fresh soups and gluten-free wraps.
Nightlife is scarce in Fort St. John, but Casey's Neighbourhood Pub, 2 kilometres east of Whole Wheat 'n' Honey, is a relaxing spot to wind down after a long day of outdoor fun. Visitors can play a game of darts or shoot pool while watching sports on big-screen TVs.