Fort St. John, B.C.

Fort St. John is the oldest immigrant settlement in B.C., as well as being one of the oldest First Nations settlements. At nearby Charlie Lake Cave, archaeologists uncovered artefacts from a Paleo-Indian settlement that was active there more than 10,500 years ago. The entire region is now known as the traditional home of the Beaver People.

Originally established in 1794 as Rocky Mountain Fort, the arrival of fur traders brought change, and there were at least seven separate trading posts built, including the final Fort St. John, which was built in 1925 and finally closed in 1975. In the 1930s, a large influx of people with farming skills took up homesteads, and soon farming replaced trapping as the main industry. Many of those same families still farm in the surrounding area; some even farm with horses for pure enjoyment.

Today, with their multi-industry tax base, Fort St. John boasts one of the younger populations in Canada, and the city has thriving recreational committees, including the High on Ice Winter Festival, where international ice carvers ply their skills and create a glittery, frozen wonderland of amazing sculptures in Centennial Park. The Festival attracts thousands of folks to the city, including well-known photographer Norbert Stoll, who took this pic of himself.