For a time he worked at the Peace River Block News, before he became the local reporter for the big city papers, the Edmonton Journal and the Vancouver Province.
Harry and his versatile wife Marjorie came before the railway  and took part in all the activities of a small community, including the rural area. They knew everybody, even when the boom followed the coming of the Alaska Highway.
In his later years Mr. Giles was sought out as an authority on many phases of Peace River history. Everything he wrote for “outside” publications was thoroughly researched and exact. Without being a promoter as such, he promoted more genuine interest in the problems of the area and its accomplishments than any fly-by-night news hawk ever could.
One of his published contributions is included here as an example of true reporting without prejudice or emotion. Two other articles by Harry Giles are included in the Agriculture Section [Part 8].
AGRICULTURE IN THE PEACE, by Harry Giles
There is not district in Canada and certainly not in British Columbia that offers greater opportunities to the progressive farmer than the Peace River District. Although Dawson Creek is the largest initial grain shipping point in Canada, in the district there is more uncultivated land than cultivated. In fact the largest agricultural acreage in any one district in B.C. lies in the Peace River District.
According to F. H. Kitto, F. R. G. S., some 145,000 square miles or 92,800,000 acres of land is included in the Peace River Country of B.C. and Alberta with a conservative estimate of 15,000,000 acres suitable for grain growing. When transportation is available most of this area will ship supplies in from and produce out to Vancouver, Prince Rupert, and perhaps Bella Coola. In B. C. there is an estimated 22,608,000 acres classed as being suitable for agriculture, and a recent conservative estimate places 5,000,000 of this in the B. C. Peace River District. Approximately one million acres in the district are now occupied by farmers with more than one third of that cultivated.
About half of this cultivated area is in grain — barley, wheat, oats, flax, and rye in that order. The remainder is in hay and pasture, summer fallow, forage seed and miscellaneous crops. Long term average yields (per acre) are conservatively estimated at barley 30 bushels; wheat 20 bushels; oats 40 bushels; flax 12 bushels; rye 25 bushels and hay 2 tons per acre. Average yields in pounds per acre of commonly grown forage seeds are alfalfa 150; red clover 150; Alsike 200 and sweet clover 300. These forage seed yields are what can normally be expected under reasonably sound management practices.
Live stock production continues to increase each year and now totals 16,000 cattle and 25,000 hogs. Cattle are mainly of the beef and dual purpose type but the number of dairy cattle is increasing as growing urban population increases the demand for fluid milk. Sheep numbers are negligible, totaling less than 1,500. There is room for large-scale expansion in all livestock enterprises.
Until full surveys have been made of the areas in the newer sections of the district which are still being opened up by new roads built by oil companies in their search for oil it is impossible to give an accurate estimate of farming land. Many acres of valley and parklands suitable for agriculture are being discovered as prospecting progresses. The majority of the valleys grow lush vegetation and are wide enough to be a very attractive proposition for mixed farming and ranching.
Beekeeping is making headway in the Peace. The average yield per colony this year, which has not been the best, will be over 150 lbs. Some “yards” have done exceptionally well and others where one of our rare hailstorms hit did not do so well. The highest yield reported this year was in one of the Peace River Honey Company yards where one hive yielded 374 lbs. of weighed honey. This company had 1,500 colonies scattered throughout the district. Besides producing an excellent honey from the clover fields the benefit of the bees as pollinators is marked by increase in seed set. There is a Beekeeper’s Association at Dawson Creek and there are a number of apiarists with a few hives up to several hundred.
When we look into the future we can not help being optimistic. I am not a blind booster but after seeing the development that has taken place during over thirty years of close contact and twenty-five years continuous residence in the Peace River District I would be a very pessimistic individual if I failed to see a wonderful future. This is no Eldorado but it is a country that will, over a period of years, give good return to anyone who will use good judgment and is not afraid of work. Some years our winters may be cold and long but they are usually bright and sunny and the cold is far more easily endured than the cold foggy weather of the coast region.
With the completion of the Pacific Great Eastern railway mixed farming should take a boost. Livestock thrive and are free of many diseases found in the more humid sections. Insect pests and plant diseases are negligible compared with warmer areas. If freight rates to Vancouver don’t go up there is no reason why the stock and poultry raisers to the south should not take the bulk of their feed from the Peace River District. Beef, pork, eggs, and poultry have to be imported from other parts of Canada by the coastal cities and this would be a logical market for our produce. The opening of this market should mean prosperity for this section and could possibly reduce the cost to the consumer. There is no district in the west capable of producing livestock of better quality or at less cost than right here.
The quality of the soil varies as does the weather but there is room for almost any type of farming. On the benches of the rivers, particularly the Peace, sweet corn with well-filled cobs ten inches long is grown regularly, and tomatoes ripened in quantity. Watermelons and cantaloupe are also ripened and cucumbers grown commercially. I do not wish to give the impression that this conditions is general but there are places where it is done. The writer usually has all the vegetables he needs in his garden but cannot grow any of the items mentioned with any degree of certainty.
Comparing the Peace River District with other farming areas of the west the future looks very bright. Our markets are expanding, land can still be bought cheaply –Government land is still available for purchase at $2.50 to $5.00 per acre — taxes are low on agricultural land (this year .05 for general and 15.94 mills for school) and overhead compares favorably with other farming sections. The prosperity of the Peace River Country is expanding rapidly. What the future holds in store is in the hands of the people. Providence has done his share and with more people this area can become one of the brightest spots in Canada. There is till time to grow with the country and help shape its destiny, and at the same time earn a prosperous living.