Settlement in the region was negligible until the land boom (1908-14) during construction of the GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC RAILWAY (now part of Canadian National Railways). For several years 3 neighbouring townsites vied for dominance, with the railway townsite eventually winning out. The town's name was changed to Prince George after a referendum held during the first civic election (1915), this time for a former duke of Kent who died in an air crash in 1942.
Growth of the city was slow until after World War II when a booming forest industry brought prosperity and rapid growth to the region with many newcomers from the prairies. Between 1961 and 1981 Prince George grew from a rough mill town to the major manufacturing, supply, government and education centre for north-central British Columbia.
The economy of Prince George is driven by the forestry sector with numerous sawmills, 3 pulpmills, plywood manufacture and other value-added forestry products. Other industries include chemical plants, an oil refinery, brewery and some secondary manufacturing. The city is also a staging centre for mining and prospecting.
As well as its continued role as a regional trade, administrative and education centre, Prince George is a regional transportation centre. There are large railway yards and locomotive repair shops to service grain, coal and lumber trains to the coast. It is the divisional headquarters for CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS (CN) and is its main operations hub for northern British Columbia. CN also operates a VIA Rail passenger service out of Prince George. The city is a major highway junction and the airport is served by the major national airlines as well as other smaller airlines serving regional and smaller centres.
The city has many cultural, sports and educational facilities including a public art gallery, civic and convention centre, regional museum, symphony orchestra, performing arts theatre and multipurpose arena, home to a Western Hockey League team. Post-secondary institutions include the College of New Caledonia and University of Northern British Columbia. Prince George is also a centre for sportfishing and moose hunting. Four provincial parks in the region provide downhill, cross-country and heli-skiing.
Author JOHN STEWART AND KENT SEDGWICK Revised: KEN FAVRHOLDT
Links to Other Sites
The official website of the City of Prince George, BC.
Simonson Photographic Collection
This website is devoted to the history of Fort George, now Prince George. From Canada's Digital Collections.
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.
An extensive information source about the geological history, human settlement patterns, earth and water resources, and natural hazards found in locations across the country. Click on the red symbols on the interactive map of Canada to explore aerial landscapes, maps, photos, colourful online posters, and more. A Geoscape Canada website from Natural Resources Canada.
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.
One of Canada's earliest roads: the Cariboo
A CBC Radio audio clip about the history of the harrowing Cariboo Wagon Road in BC.
Wally West Collection
An extensive online collection of images by award winning photographer W.D. (Wally) West. Depicts local social and recreational activities, local industry, natural disasters, aerial views, and much more. From the Fraser Fort-George Regional Museum.
This extensive online photograph collection documents the history of the northern British Columbia communities of McBride, Valemount, Prince George, and Mackenzie. Features images of pack trains, river freighters, railways and highways, historic buildings, local residents at work and play, and much more. From the Fraser Fort-George Regional Museum.
Opening New Caledonia
A superb online exhibit that document the history of the "New Caledonia" region of British Columbia. Check out the glossary of related terms. From the Exploration Place at the Fraser-Fort Geroge Regional Museum.
University of Northern British Columbia
The website for the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George. Check out the informative articles and media clips about current programs and research initiatives.
Reading Architecture: Barry Johns
This article focuses on two landmark projects designed by innovative contemporary architect Barry Johns: the Two Rivers Art Gallery in Prince George and Edmonton’s Advanced Technology Centre. From the “Canadian Architect” website.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...