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A new sight at Fort St. John lookout point
FORT ST. JOHN – There are two new sights to set your eyes on at the 100 Street Lookout Point.
On Aug. 27 members from the North Peace Historical Society and museum unveiled two interpretive signs that give visitors a snap shot of the area’s history.
“I think this area is so rich in history,” said Area C director Arthur Hadland. “This is the earliest man-occupied land in B.C. … and these two plaques we put together compliments the historical society.”
North Peace Museum curator Heather Longworth, and historical society members Larry Evans and Barb Godberson put the two signs together, but it was Hadland who initiated the project.
“Really, It was Arthur Hadland who kick started the idea by propsing we do these signs and the museum took on the project funds from the Regional District and we met and decided what we wanted to put on the signs,” explained Longworth.
If you’ve ever stood behind the barb-wired fence at the Lookout Point you’ll have noticed houses on the foot of the steep hill that meets the water, a bridge in the far distance and, of course, the winding Peace river that curves around a lush green landscape.
The two new signs depict the history and stories behind that view.
One sign describes the different elements that can still be seen at the Lookout Point, like the Great Pacific Eastern Bridge, and the other sign goes in depth about the mode of transportation that brought people into the area.
“We started adding up all the history here, and there was a lot,” said local historian and city councillor Larry Evans. “Two-hundred years ago Alexander Mackenzie came up the river and said this would be an excellent place for a fort.”
The Peace river was one of many ‘highways’ into the region, along with The Kiskatinaw, The Pine, Beatton, Moberly and Halfway Rivers.
People came by canoes, steamboats and sternwheels looking for fur, and because the rivers in the region fed into First Nations’ territory—where there was an abundance of beaver—the area started to grow.
“We had to do something with [the river],” said Longworth on deciding what topics to research and share.
Visitors can now learn about the largest steam powered sternwheeler, D.A. Thomas, that made roundtrips from the Peace River Crossing to Hudson’s Hope for $35 and operated between 1916 to 1930.
In addition it showcases the kind of lightweight, portable canoes that First Nations used as well as explorer Mackenzie.
Evans touched upon Fort St. John’s growth, which is also depicted on one of the plaques.
“They started panning in the Peace river, we were described as a gold town,” explained Evans. “During that time people moved up top and discovered the farm land here and how they could grow and what the seasons were … farming was our first industry, the gold petered out … Over the years it’s been oil and gas, but it’s fallen on the farmers over and over again to keep the doors of Fort St. John open.”
The Look Out Point is located on the south end of 100 Street.