Peace River Country Information
Peace River Country, known for its prairie, boreal forest, moderately mountainous terrain and the Peace River, has one of the longest and loveliest river systems in Canada. Often simply called "Peace Country," the area extends from northwestern Alberta to the Rocky Mountains in northeastern British Columbia. The most notable cities in the Alberta portion of the Peace Country include Grande Prairie, Peace River, Fort Vermilion, and Fairview, but there are also a few smaller towns to visit.
In the early days of Canada, the Peace River was the main mode of transportation used by explorers, the Hudson’s Bay company and originally, the First Nations people. The river gets its name from the peace treaty signed in 1719 that ended hostilities between two tribes: the Beaver (or Dene) people and the Cree.
In 1792, Alexander Mackenzie, a fur-trader by profession but an explorer by nature, wintered over at the junction of the Smokey and Peace Rivers near the present day town of Peace River. Within a few years of Mackenzie’s trip, the first fur-trading forts were built in the Peace.
After 1900, word spread that there was a wealth of untouched land available to settlers and settlement quickly followed. Today, forestry plays a large role in the Peace Country and there are a number of pulp mills in the area. The region also contains Canada’s northernmost lands suitable for agriculture and, in addition to oil and gas extraction and logging, significant cattle ranching and beekeeping takes place in the area.
Located 780 km northwest of Calgary, 487 km northwest of Edmonton, and 198 km northeast of Grande Prairie, the town of Peace River is situated along the banks of the Peace River at its confluence with the Smoky River, the Heart River and Pat’s Creek.
Many of the attractions that make up the Peace Country are spread out over an area of approximately 260,000 to 390,000 kilometres. So the best way to explore this region is by car, motorcycle, or motorhome. Be sure to check distances on the Distance Calculator before setting out.
Get Outdoors – There’s no shortage of exciting outdoor activities in the Peace Country. From horseback riding, cycling, hiking, jetboat racing, fishing, hunting and golfing to bird watching, canoeing, All-Terrain-Vehicling (also known as ATVs or "Quads") and snowmobiling. There’s something here for everyone.
Paddling – With so much water around, it’s no wonder that paddling plays a prominent role in the region’s outdoor sporting life. You can book day trips or extended paddling excursions of up to 30 days in Peace River country.
Golf -- Golf fans will be happy to find many nine and eighteen hole golf courses in the area.
Hunting and Fishing – Wildlife in the Peace River region is as spectacular and varied as the landscape. Big game common in the area include moose, white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, black bear, and wolves. Sports enthusiasts will also be thrilled with the variety of native fish species in the many rivers and lakes, including Arctic Grayling, Bull Trout, Burbot, Lingcod, Northern Pike, Rainbow Trout and Walleye.
Horseback Riding -- This is also great horseback riding country and you'll find experienced guides to take you on trail rides and pack trips.
The Shaftesbury Trail – This scenic drive can be accessed from Hwy 2 just 4 km south of Grimshaw (turn onto Hwy 684) or from the town of Peace River. The fully paved trail runs alongside the Peace River for approximately 26 kilometres and offers several stops for sight seeing, picnicking, and camping.
Shaftesbury Ferry – Built in 1962, this small tugboat has a capacity for 2 crew, 46 passengers and 8 mid-size cars. It operates 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily from May 18th to mid-November and is a fun way to get to the other side of the Peace River. There is no charge to use the ferry service.
Skiing and Snowboarding -- Located in the majestic Peace River Valley, Misery Mountain is home to the Mighty Peace Alpine Racers and offers a variety of ski runs for you and your family to enjoy. Private and group lessons are available. As they say, at the Peace River Ski Hill, "Misery Loves Company."
Pond Hockey – Played at Lac Cardinal in Grimshaw every February, the Alberta Pond Hockey World Championship Qualification Tournament is Alberta’s largest pond hockey tournament and hosts over 80 teams from across the country.
Visit Driftpile (347 km Northwest of Edmonton) for the summer solstice and enjoy The North Country Fair alongside lovers of alternative music from all over Canada and even the world. Another music festival, described as "the most participated event in the Peace River region" is PeaceFest. An annual music and entertainment festival, it began as a fundraising effort, after the great flood of 1997, in which the town of Peace River suffered much devastation.
When the snow begins to fall, join the francophone community of St. Isidore as they celebrate winter with the St. Isidore Carnaval. This annual event showcases the unique French Canadian culture in Northern Alberta. Enjoy sliding, carriage rides, ice sculptures and fresh maple syrup while experiencing French culture in a beautiful setting.
Why not get your picture taken in front of the World’s Largest Beaver (in Beaverlodge) or visit or the gravesite of prospector and all-around-character Twelve-Foot Davis (Peace River)?Restaurants
In any of the larger cities and smaller towns in the Peace region you can find a local eatery that will serve up some tasty fare, everything from pizza, donairs and chop suey, to fancier cuisine served up at higher-end restaurants.Accommodations
Take your pick from motels, B&Bs, and guest ranches. You’ll also find plenty of RV parks and campgrounds to stay in. They range from providing the bare necessities to offering full services.
Return to the Alberta Regional Overview page.
Contributed by Theresa Shea.
Map: To zoom closer click the "plus" (+) button in the navigation bar on the left of the screen. To zoom out click the "minus" (-) button on the navigation bar. To navigate (move/pan your view), click and drag the map. To view street-level imagery for a specific location, click and drag the yellow man icon from left hand side bar onto streets highlighted in blue.
Article contributed by Theresa Shea.
Photo credits: Peace River townsite, swans and Twelve Foot Davis courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, MHalifu.
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