March 6, 2015 – Happy 100th birthday Prince George!

PG100 HorzOne-hundred years ago today, the city of Prince George became an incorporated municipality — an event that capped years of political bickering, delays and general confusion caused by the region’s vehement and outspoken competing interests. (See This Week in History (1915): Prince George incorporated as a municipality, March 6, 2014.)

As Reverend F. E. Runnalls recounts in his book A History of Prince George:

During the early part of 1915 the whole community was agitated over the matter of incorporation. The joint committee on incorporation representing the three towns [Central Fort George, South Fort George and Prince George] had been unable to agree. South Fort George had withdrawn, and now the representatives of Prince George and those of Central Fort George were each lobbying in Victoria for their own interests.1

The issues at stake included where to draw the boundaries of the new municipality, how to handle taxation, and where to situate the new Grand Trunk Pacific (GTP) railway station, the location of which would no doubt bring significant growth and commerce to its lucky home locality. In the end, the GTP Railway Company’s ties to the Prince George townsite outweighed efforts by the Central Fort George lobby group. On March 6, 1915, the provincial government passed a bill incorporating the new City of Prince George.

Buildings in motion

Perhaps one of the most peculiar sights following incorporation was that of people and businesses on the move — literally. In the months following incorporation, it was quite common to see homes and buildings on wheels or sleds trundling through the snow as their owners pushed, pulled or yanked the structures from Central or South Fort George to the new “metropolis” of Prince George.2

Photo of a house being moved by horses from Central Fort George to Prince George, 1910s.

A house is moved by horses from Central Fort George to Prince George after Prince George was incorporated as a municipality on March 6, 1915. (Photo: The Exploration Place)

Born and raised on great hopes

Ironically, the new city of Prince George did not boom. The start of World War I, the conclusion of GTP construction, a disastrous fire in early 1915, and a paucity of municipal funding led to several years of economic and demographic stagnation. But Prince George had its foundations firmly in place, and although it took some time for the city to recover its energy, it eventually did do so. Writes Runnalls:

From 1916 on the years reveal a story of unspectacular but gradual growth. Hopes of great new developments here [in Prince George] have been built up and then dashed to the ground, but Prince George was born and brought up on great hopes, so is quite inured to such experiences.3

Notes:

  1. Runnalls, Rev. F. E., A History of Prince George, 1946, p. 145.
  2. Ibid., p. 148.
  3. Ibid., p. 153.

Sources:

  • Christensen, Bev, Prince George: Rivers, Railway and Timber, 1989, pp. 35-45.
  • Runnalls, Rev. F. E., A History of Prince George, 1946, pp. 145-158.

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