In the years that followed there were no developments in that area due largely to the depression. Then as the end of steel, Dawson Creek served a community of perhaps 800 people dependent for their livelihood upon the activity created by the railroad, its six grain elevators and the distribution facilities for trappers, guides, and hunters. Nevertheless, with the coming of World War II 1940 the business of the branch had increased to the point where it became necessary to erect a new building. This had to be enlarged twice between 1942 and 1945.
It was to be expected that a Bank so long established there should be selected as a depository for funds of the U. S. Government administered by finance officers of the United States Army. In March 1942 such an arrangement came into effect and shortly thereafter the first U. S. troops pulled into Dawson Creek. They were only the vanguard of more to come.
During this period, living conditions at Dawson Creek were far from ideal since accommodation was at a premium and many people were living in tar paper shacks or tents in below zero temperatures. Many of the construction workers on the Alaska Highway were from the Southern U. S. and had never before encountered this type of weather. A banking service had to be provided for this sudden influx of workers on the route though at the start there was only a dirt track connecting Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, sixty miles away. However, with the establishment of a camp at Charlie Lake six miles west of Fort St. John a sub-branch of the Commerce was opened at the latter point on May 26, 1942. This was only just ahead of the Imperial Bank of Canada who had also decided to move in there. Full branch status came on September 16 of that same year under V. McLeod who was appointed Manager. From April 5, 1943 to April 29, 1944 a sub-agency to Dawson Creek operated also under the name of Alcan Highway. There was also a branch at Muskwa from March 4, 1943 until July 31, 1944.
Two hundred and fifty miles to the north was the next habitation — Fort Nelson. It was little more than a trading post. Another 360 miles northwest of that again was Watson Lake. The Bank was to have representation in this area also. It was estimated that the population of the area between Dawson Creek and Whitehorse at the peak of developments in this region was anywhere between 30,000 and 50,000 people.
It was an everyday occurrence that as soon as the branches opened at these key points all the available customers’ space would be filled to capacity. The procedure would be repeated in the evening after branches had closed for a short interval. Only with an end of the war came a letup in this feverish activity.
The Commerce in its post-war expansion opened a branch at Chetwynd on October 1, 1958. It was given branch status on May 3, 1965, with J. W. Mansfield as Manger. Hudson’s Hope followed six months later on March 17, 1959 starting as a branch but reverting to sub-agency status on July 16 of that same year under Fort St. John as the parent branch.