W. Ferdinand Wentzell of the NORTH WEST COMPANY sent George Keith to establish a post here in 1805, making Fort Nelson the third oldest non-native settlement in British Columbia. The post was abandoned in 1813 but later re-established by the HUDSON'S BAY CO in 1865, near the present airport. This post was destroyed by a flood in 1890. A SLAVEY band migrated here from Great Slave Lake about 1775; they became the Fort Nelson First Nation. Fort Nelson was an important centre en route to the Yukon from Edmonton during the KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH.
An airport in 1941, the ALASKA HIGHWAY in 1942 and completion of the BRITISH COLUMBIA RAILWAY extension from Fort St John in 1971 have all played roles in the area's expansion, making Fort Nelson the transportation and service centre for the region. It is known as Mile 300 on the Alaska Highway. The area grew rapidly in the late 20th century through developments in the forest industries and renewed interest in local natural gas and oil exploration and processing. While the natural gas sector is still strong, in 2008, the town's two forest-products plants closed. Tourism and agriculture also contribute to the local economy. A campus of Northern Lights College is located here.
Author ALAN F.J. ARTIBISE Rev: KEN FAVRHOLDT
Links to Other Sites
The official website for the Town of Fort Nelson, BC.
See maps and statistical data for regions and communities throughout British Columbia. A Government of British Columbia website.
BC Geographical Names
Search the BC Geographical Names Information System for historical and geographical data about specific locations in British Columbia.
British Columbia Archives
Explore the fascinating history of BC through online digitized copies of selected government documents, manuscripts, maps, architectural plans, photographs, illustrations, audio and video files, newspapers and much more.
Fort Nelson Heritage Museum
The website for the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum.
Deh Cho Travel Connection
An extensive online guide to the Deh Cho Travel Connection, a remarkable journey through Canada’s north that traverses the Mackenzie, Liard, and Alaska Highways. Click on the links for more information about the history of the route, interactive maps, and details about local communities, parks, and wildlife. From the website for Industry, Tourism and Investment, Government of the Northwest Territories.
A biography of fur trader George Keith. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.