The Land of Twelve Foot Davis

July 15, 2019 11:04 am Published by Leave your thoughts

For this blog I thought I’d share a bit about my hometown of Peace River, a beautiful northern community that depends on forestry to employ many people and support the local economy. If I do a really, really good job maybe you’ll pack your bags and move here, but my goal is just to put my town on your radar.

Peace River, Alberta (originally known as Peace River Crossing) is located approximately 500 kilometres north-west of Edmonton and has a population of around 6,800 people. To get from one side of town to the other requires the crossing of our landmark bridge (pictured), because Peace River is in a steep valley and has a river running right through its centre. The geography of the town means that there is often construction in an effort to stop the hill from sliding, VERY heavy fog, and a dependency on an often icy bridge. The pros however, are worth it. I’ve lived in or near this town my whole life and I’m still stunned by its natural beauty.

The hottest spots in town include the Tim Hortons, the ice rink, Canadian Tire (this is not me being a stereotypical Canadian, I promise its true…), the walking trail along the dike, the ski hill, the pub on wing-Wednesday, and the ball diamonds. Peace River also features a swimming pool, a bowling alley, golf courses (mini and regular), a movie theatre, and more. Not too bad for a small town. 

face painted child sitting with frisbee

Figure 1 My little sister at the Canada Day Celebrations holding a commemorative frisbee


Now that I’ve gotten started, there is so much that I could say about my little hometown so I’d better try and get organized…

Some history: and facts:

  • You may be interested to know that Peace River is currently celebrating its 100 year anniversary!!! I’m proud to say that I’ve lived in/near this town for almost a fifth of its existence. Celebrations will last throughout the year, currently the town is working on putting together a time capsule to be buried at the end of the year.
  • After the Cariboo Country Gold Rush in British Columbia in the late 1800’s, Henry Fuller Davis put his profits from a 12 foot plot of land into a trading post near where you can find Peace River today. Because of this, his tall wooden statue is one of the most famous residents and almost anyone could tell you the location of the 12’ Davis Grave site/ park at the top of the hill where he wished to be buried. Apparently he liked the view up there. He is known for the role he had in trade, his 12 foot legacy, and for never locking his cabin door.
  • An old legend that is said to have originated from Beaver First Nation in northern Alberta, says that once you drink the water of the Peace River you will come back to it. This has become a common saying for residents of the town.
  • The cleared parkland of the Peace River area is the most northerly commercially important agricultural land in all of North America.


child being handed baby tree from man

Figure 2 My baby brother grabbing some Canada Day trees from an Alberta Wildfire stand

What’s new and exciting in the Peace Country?

  • A new bridge is currently underway to accompany the current traffic and train bridge (interestingly, the train bridge used to be shared by both trains and trucks/cars).
  • Construction of a new arena is well underway (I’m not joking when I say we like our hockey…)
  • Peace River also loves basketball! Largely thanks to the development of the Warriors Peace River club basketball league (for which I am proud to be a coach and former player) basketball is only becoming more popular in the area, and last week was sadly the final tournament of this club season.
  • Last week’s breaking news: ‘Students are surprised when deer gives birth to twins outside T.A. Norris Middle School’ (this was a popular topic for quite a while…)

Being the start of July there were recently some Canada Day celebrations at Riverfront Park, I think some of these pictures really showcase the sense of community and the beauty of the town.

statue of man

Figure 3 the 12’ statue of 12′ Davis that watches over Riverfront Park

If you’re from a larger centre you may be asking yourself why thousands of people choose to live in this town, and at first glance it’s hard to see why; retail shopping is next to nothing, you’re a 5ish hour drive from Edmonton, there’s always a risk of the river flooding, and many of the services that are easily accessible in the city are difficult or expensive to get… Despite Peace River’s shortcomings, people live here because they love it here. Peace River simultaneously accomplishes transiency in its population and deep rooted family histories, people go to the same schools their parents went to, and they play for the same teams; you may come or go, but seldom do you never come back. It has the definition of small town mastered, everybody knows everybody, and you can’t go to the grocery store without seeing someone you know. 

view of field with grass and hills

Figure 4 A view of the ski hill from across the valley

For these reasons, the town traditions, and the beauty of just driving the steep valley, no matter where I go Peace River will always be pulling me home.

Thank you for reading, and for letting me try to put my favourite town on your map!



view of bridge and lake

Figure 5 the old wooden train bridge and Peace River’s trademark blue, arched bridge (yes one arc is smaller than the others)

view of field with people during canada day

Figure 6 from the outside looking in: Riverfront Park on Canada Day

A local band plays at the Canada Day celebrations

Figure 7 A local band plays at the Canada Day celebrations

view of lake and mountain

Figure 8 A walk along the river

statue of man, games and crowds for canada day

Figure 9 “LEGEND OF TWELVE FOOT DAVIS Pathfinder, Pioneer, Miner and Trader He was every man’s friend and never locked his cabin door.”

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