Blue Cove, NLCorner Brook, NLCrowsnest Pass, ABDeer Lake, NLDrumheller, ABEdmonton, ABFort McMurray, ABGander, NLGrande Prairie, ABKitimat, BCPort au Choix, NLPort Hardy, BCPrince George, BCPrince Rupert, BCRevelstoke, BCRocky Harbor, NLSmithers, BCSt. Anthony, NLSt. Barbe, NLSt. John's, NLSt. Paul's NLTerrace, BCYellowknife, NT
Prince George, BC
Population (2011): 71,975
Population change since 2006: 1.4%
Percentage of the population aged 15 and over: 82.2
M: 81.7 F: 82.7
Pop density / sq. km: 226.1
Land area: 318.26 km^2
Average family income (all census families): $73,063
Visible minority: N/A
Employment rate: 67.1%
Participation rate: N/A
Average price for SDH: $275,353 (just for house, not necessarily SDH)
Housing starts (2011): Average of 209 / year from 2000 - 2009, 213 in 2010
Average rental rate: $707 / month (2014, 2 bedroom)
Homeownership rate: N/A
Number of households: 29,265
Meeting at the junction of the two rivers, the Fraser and the Nechako, lies the City of Prince George in the heart of the traditional land of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, a name which quite roughly translates into “People from the confluence of Two Rivers.” Prince George lies 788 kms north of Vancouver, and 912 kms west of Edmonton on the Yellowhead Highway. Sharing a commonality with Edmonton, Prince George is the largest northern city in its province, albeit with a more diverse landscape and ecosystem, as Prince George finds itself parked near the centre of the Rocky Mountain Trench in an area which divides fluvial paths into either the Pacific or Arctic oceans.
Prince George’s history almost appears complex on paper, though compared to other municipalities on this journey west, is actually quite typical. For millennia, First Nations people settled on the conflux of the Fraser and Nechako undisturbed until one fateful day when two gold miners from the Bahamas were lead through the region by Lheidli T’enneh persons. From this point, word made it through to the Hudson’s Bay Company that the rivers provided incredible transportation potential, leading the company to establish Fort George in the region in 1894. Several years later, rumours of the Grand Trunk Pacific railroad possibly building its way through the region saw a boom develop in the region which spawned both South Fort George and Central Fort George under the guidance of land owner and promoter George Hammond who marketed the area to not only Canadians, but also British citizens as well as the future hub of British Columbia, suitable for almost all agricultural endeavors. The GTP bought land north of old Fort George in 1908, and by the time the first passenger trail rolled on by in 1914, Prince George, built as a railway station town for the GTP, had begun to surge past its neighbouring communities in population. Immigrants from Europe and other parts of Canada began to arrive, and in 1915, the Hammond fought for a station to be developed in Central Fort George. However, the GTP wanted none of this, most likely to avoid redundancy, and the municipalities amalgamated into the City of Prince George, finding their naming influence predominantly in honouring King George V’s fourth son who would later die in a World War II air accident. After the second Great War, Prince George experienced roughly two decades of nearly unmitigated expansion. Development went largely unchecked for this period of time, and the City itself seems to acknowledge this planning blunder which functioned counter-intuitive to the area’s original development strategy of City Beautiful, a movement designed to create cities of wonder and social control, as seen in both Chicago and Washington, D.C. Again, in 1975, Prince George swallowed up surrounding areas, gaining an even larger land and population mass through annexation.
Throughout its history, Prince George has fathered its region and northern British Columbia as a service and supply hub, utilizing its heightened population as a tool of strength. Prince George makes use of a relatively young population which also happens to be well-educated thanks to two particularly strong post-secondary institutions; the University of Northern British Columbia, and the College of New Caledonia, opened in 1990 and 1969 respectively. Of the City’s population, approximately 40.9% have a post-secondary degree, with a small majority holding a diploma in the trades versus a university diploma. Macleans Magazine continues to rank the UNBC favourably on their annual Canadian University guides. Thanks to this high education rate, Prince George also benefits from a high participation rate in the job market. Though traditionally a forest-based economy with sawmills, pulp mills, and plywood manufacturing, the mountain pine beetle epidemic of the 1980s and 90s saw logging companies rush to cut trees down, knowing that if they didn’t act fast, the short 5-year lifespan of their product post-infestation would ruin this economy. Luckily, a growing health and education sector have steadily diversified the local economy, although the City believes that mining may be its next major economic artery, as it is estimated that the Nechako Basin has reserves of over 5,000,000 barrels of oil. Beyond this, Prince george also has two chemical plants, an oil refinery, a brewery, and the ability to construct large mechanical processes, as well as the promise of many mainstream box stores supposedly flooding its city streets sooner rather than later.
Culturally speaking, Prince George is no slouch in the tourism department, either, finding itself a stop on the VIA Rail passenger line to Prince Rupert from Edmonton, a major airport, as well as a easily accessible Greyhound bus route. The City has its own symphony, both a railway and forestry museum, a BCHL and a WHL hockey team. The downtown maintains its grid pattern from yesteryear, with many buildings, shops and pubs which help make Prince George a commercial destination, even if Macleans magazine has listed it as the “Most Dangerous City in Canada” numerous times.