Prince George

Discover Prince George, British Columbia: The Northern Capital of Canada

Prince George, a city in British Columbia, Canada, is often referred to as the province's "northern capital". With a city population of 76,708 and a metro census agglomeration population of 89,490, it is situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako rivers.

The Historical Roots of Prince George, British Columbia

The origins of Prince George can be traced back to the North West Company fur trading post of Fort George, established in 1807 by Simon Fraser and named in honour of King George III. The post was centred in the centuries-old homeland of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation, whose name means "people of the confluence of the two rivers." The Lheidli T'enneh name began to see official use around the 1990s and the band is otherwise historically referred to as Fort George Indian Band.

Prince George, British Columbia in the 1800s

Throughout the 19th century, HBC Fort George trading post remained unchanged, and Fort St. James reigned as the main trading post and capital of the New Caledonia area. Even during the Cariboo Gold Rush, Fort George was isolated although Quesnel prospered as the Cariboo Road was built to its doorstep, making it the main staging area for the miners going to the goldfields at Barkerville. Then, when the Collins Overland Telegraph Trail was built in 1865–67, it bypassed Fort George trading post, following the Blackwater Trail from Quesnel and continuing northwest towards Hazelton. In the late 1800s many Lheidli T'enneh lived in a village built next to the HBC trading post due to the ease of preparing furs and trading directly, without great distances to travel.

Townsite Development and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in Prince George, British Columbia

In 1903, the area's fortune began to change when reports said that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (later part of Canadian National Railway) would pass near the fur trading post. In 1906, agricultural settlement began around the HBC post and then in 1909, development of two townsites began as two rival land speculation companies built the communities of South Fort George and Fort George (sometimes referred to as Central Fort George). South Fort George was built on the Fraser River near to and just south of the Hudson's Bay Company's trading post. The GTP meanwhile was trying to acquire land for its own townsite which delayed the constructions of what would become Prince George for several years.

The Etymology of Prince George, British Columbia

There were three rationales given for naming the new city as Prince George: In 1911, Grand Trunk Railway documents justified the name to clearly distinguish it from nearby Fort George neighbourhoods. In 1914, the railway said that the name would honour the recently crowned King George V. One suggestion recommended the name George. A third rationale was to honour Prince George, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of reigning King George V.Businessmen in Fort George petitioned the provincial government to block the new name but they were unsuccessful. In May 1915, residents voted by plebiscite to name the new city as Prince George with a vote of 153–13.

Prince George, British Columbia during the First World War

With the onset of World War I in 1914, the local economy was devastated as many local men enlisted and the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway was halted, creating a massive drop in population. Many men enlisted in Prince George from the surrounding communities and were primarily sent to Vernon, BC for training before being shipped overseas. 17 names of soldiers who died in World War I are inscribed on the cenotaph, although many more enlisted. Population decline continued with the ensuing Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. The epidemic took at least fifty lives in the area, including First Nation's leaders

Prince George, British Columbia in the 1920s and 1930s

Prince George persevered through the 1920s and the Great Depression of the 1930s and did not experience any significant growth until World War II when an army camp was built at the foot of Cranbrook Hill, bringing new life to the struggling businesses and service industries. The Great Depression saw massive decline in lumber production in the region, falling from 105 million board feet in 1929 to only 15 million board feet by 1932 and a significant increase in unemployment. Unemployed men were often housed in one of several relief camps east of Prince George, where the men works on construction projects or remained idle, but away from the city of Prince George. Between 1930 and 1935, Prince George and the work camps were home to labor protests and sit ins organized by a local branch of the Communist sympathizing National Unemployed Workers Association, who sought basic needs for the unemployed.In the 1920s air transport began with sea planes and landing on Central Avenue. In the 1930s Prince George saw air transport increase and became a hub for air mail to Takla Landing, Fort Saint James, and Manson Landing, later including stops in Edmonton, Whitehorse, and Fort Nelson and an airport was developed by Carney Hill (The Golf Course today). In 1939, Prince George was selected as a spot for an aerodrome, and construction began on what is now YXS Prince George Airport.

Prince George, British Columbia during the Second World War

Army Camp Prince George was opened during WWII and once housed 6,000 soldiers. From March 1942 to October 1943, divisional troops and units of the 16th Infantry Brigade (8th Canadian Infantry Division) were housed there. The camp was located in the area of 1st Street, Central Street, 15th Avenue, to the bottom of Cranbrook Hill. Barracks were built to house the soldiers, dining halls constructed to feed them, and wet canteens for their leisure and entertainment. There were rifle ranges, mortar ranges and artillery ranges. The camp closed at the end of the war. Most of the buildings were either demolished or moved to new locations, although some remain in their original locations, such as the former transportation building on 15th Avenue, that was used by the British Columbia Forestry Service from the late 1940s to 1963. It is now owned by the City of Prince George for use by the Community Arts Council. The Nechako Bottle Depot on First Avenue is also another former camp building. Others include the first Overwaitea store, at Victoria and Third, formerly a barracks and the original civic centre, which was the old drill shed, was removed and rebuilt on Seventh Avenue. Population during the war saw 2,027 in 1941 rising to 3,800 in Prince George by 1945.After the war, as the ravaged European cities rebuilt, the demand for lumber skyrocketed and Prince George, with its abundance of sawmills and spruce trees,

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