Our North Pine district is located in the two valleys of Indian Creek and the Beatton or as we ‘locals’ know it, the North Pine River. Only a few standing spruce remain out of the acres that must have once covered these parts.
Diamond willows and poplar with stretches of peavine and vetch dotted with Indian paintbrush and purple larkspur greeted the homesteaders in 1927-28.
In 1919 Vern McLean built his ranch house on the banks of the North Pine or Beatton. He was at first moderately successful, but one bad winter — when feed was scarce, the snow deep, and the Chinooks failed — the banks of the river echoed to the bawling of starving cattle. That winter wiped out a large part of his herd. Another year disease was introduced by unlucky chance and eventually Mr. McLean withdrew to his homestead near Fort St. John. Mr. John Middleton, Mr. Gilbert Howe and Mr. Clay Martin also tried out ranching in the district. In 1928 the only remaining ranch was that of the Clarke brothers — Joe, Alf and Bob — who ran a store, traded with the Indians and had a horse ranch.
Bill Smirl who filed on his claim in March 1928 began at once to build his house, and his wife joined him in May. He broke land and sowed oats, which he harvested that fall. That same year many other settlers filed on their homesteads. Among them were Bill Tiegs, John and Joe Keith, Phil Wood Sr. and his three sons — Phil, Ivan and Glen. Other early settlers included Swan Lundeen, Tommy Wilde, Ross and Emmett Smith and the three Landstrom boys.
In 1928 – Mrs. Ivan Wood, Mrs. Phil Wood Sr. and Mrs. Smirl all had gardens planted. Mrs. Phil Wood successfully grew corn and pumpkins in her garden those early years.
Oats and wheat were the standby crops in those early years, but through the Farmers Institute some grasses legumes were introduced.
Brome and alfalfa were the standard tame grasses. In the 40’s creeping red Fescue and Alsike came to the district. Other crops, which have been moderately successful, are sweet clover, Intermediate wheat grass, peas, and Timothy.
Cowgars who homesteaded on the site of the old Howe ranch brought in sheep in 1930. Ivan Wood bought pigs from Mrs. Morgan of Rose Prairie in 1929. Others brought pigs in and they have been a solid source of revenue. Barley, both malting and feed, is now grown much more extensively.
Mr. Tommie Wilde and Mr. Harry Platte both have fine herds of Herefords. Cougar Jack Stewart, Bill Smirl and Alberta Germain all have goods herds of cattle. The feeder sale in Fort St. John is creating interest in cattle.
Mr. Albert Germain’s farm is the site of some very interesting experiments carried out from the Beaverlodge experimental farm.
Our first fair was held in August 1930 and has been held yearly with a few lapses. It is known as the North Peace Agricultural fair and is held on permanent grounds fourteen miles north of Fort St. John in the North Pine district. The surrounding districts all have taken turns in having the fair until three years ago when a permanent location was brought from Albert Germain.