Glancing again at these irregular shaped yellow-coloured portions of the map, one other outstanding feature will be noticed immediately. The Indian Reserve, flanked as it is by the steep precipitous banks of the North Pine and Montney Rivers effectively separates what was formerly known as the Fort St. John territory from the new settlements.
This differentiation could be all the more actively visualized by bearing in mind that road communications from the south, still in embryonic stages, are to be diverted around the western side of the Indian Reserve.
Ordinarily speaking, once new settlers reach the land of their choice and establish themselves thereon, they concentrate their efforts on perfecting their communications with the more settled districts behind them. The North Pine River settlements however, prove to be the exception. Between them and the older settlements rise barriers which, for a considerable time to come, will only permit seasonal outside communication. The greatest barrier of all, of course, is the Peace River, which for all the name implies has many turbulent floods. The flowing of the ice or the softening, the rain and its after effects or wash-outs and slippery banks, cause periods of complete isolation which only costly bridging and more efficient road engineering than we have been witnessing, will overcome. Meanwhile the settlers pressing for temporary measures, more on behalf of their southern neighbors that on their own, look ahead to a better solution.
Somewhere from the northeast will come a railway as though from out the eternal snows of the Pole. Optimists forecast but a year for its reaching the North Pine banks. Pessimists merely exclude it for a year or two.
Wherever the railway crosses this six to eight hundred foot banked river there will be a city built. It is reasonably safe to conjecture that the railway will not bridge any further than the Indian Reserve, owing to the great obstacles the nature of the river banks present from thereon to the Peace.
The settlement would be fortunate if the railway crossed near the centre, but taken all around, the probability is that it will cross further north. It is to the north these settlements look for their central location and it is in that direction that their efforts are in the main concentrated. The Pouce Coupe steel head is sufficiently far enough distant as to make the settlers direct their efforts to joining up with the slowing advancing end of steel from the east. Even if the railway delays in pushing to the North Pine [from Hines Creek] for some time with a good grade crossing this river, there are not such obstacles [as to prevent] freighting southward to the settlements north of Fairview.
As for development to date, if our topographers were to keep their compilations more modern, many new names would adorn maps of this part of the country. Starting at the northwest corner of the Reserve and proceeding northwards along the Montney we have the Montney Settlement proper, a post office and Clayton School. Further north comes Crystal Springs, a school and a proposed post office and further yet again is the upper Montney School and proposed post office, which takes us into Township 87. Proceeding one range east we come to Rose Prairie, the most northern post office, school and community centre in the Peace River Block. Further up the North Pine [Beatton] River, settlement is still proceeding; mostly squatting while more land is properly surveyed.
Southwards to Township 86 is what is known as the North Pine Settlement, another school and post office — just authorized — while along the north and east boundaries of the Reserve is the “Indian Creek” community. South of the Reserve, between Montney and the Pine, which separates it from Fort St. John, but four to five miles distant, is still yet another large settlement. [Public meetings can be amusing when speakers use the wrong names for the new settlements ….. ]
“We are all the North Pine Settlement”, says one, to the chagrin of Rose Prairie residents.
“You Montney people!” began another in addressing a North Pine gathering.
But when another rose to address a very representative meeting with, “We are all Fort St. John people!” alas, the rest of the speech was lost to the murmuring of the crowd. Let us all join in the laugh as well. A community’s title is of little value if not at least held up to respect by its own residents.
Readers of the P. R. Block News will not require recent progress being enumerated in detail. Local dances and entertainments, the Sports Day, Produce Display, Turkey Shoot and Christmas Tree Concerts have demonstrated the determination of the settlers to solve the problems conquering one of the last frontiers. Agricultural statistics are boring but ten thousand acres are estimated to have been changed from virgin state. More than 800 new homes erected from log shanties to log palaces and from board hutment to frame buildings of ample proportions. All other progress is in proportion and in 1931 the settlements look forward to an increase in development which will outpace the two previous years.