While the current-day townsite of Mackenzie was developed in the late 1960s, the history of European settlement in the area goes back to the earliest fur trading posts. The Northwest Company was trading furs with First Nations people and trappers during the early part of the 1800s. The Hudson’s Bay Company moved into the area in the 1820s and established many successful trading posts.
After the Cariboo Gold Rush in 1870, miners began to move north into the Omineca District (north of Mackenzie) in search of riches. The communities of Germansen and Manson Creek were established as settlers moved into the area.
Movement of supplies to the trading posts was by river freighters and pack trains during the early 1900s. Men like Gus Dalhstrom, Edward Buchanan, and Dick Corless, operated river freighting companies to move supplies to the early settlers, from the 1920s until the construction of the Hart Highway in the 1950s.
During the 1960s the construction of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam signalled the end of many of the settlements along the Finlay and Parsnip Rivers, as the Williston Lake Reservoir flooded over them.
In 1965, the clearing of land began for the townsite of Mackenzie. British Columbia Forest Products built a pulp mill and two sawmills to begin developing the vast forest resources in the area. The first families settled in Mackenzie in June of 1966.
- Hudson Bay Company formed on May 2, 1670
- Alexander Mackenzie travels up the Peace River from northern Alberta, crossing the BC border on May 14, through the Rocky Mountain Canyon on May 22, and reaching the junction of the Finlay and Parsnip Rivers on May 31. Travelling up the Parsnip River, he camped at on before crossing the divide into the Fraser River system to reach the coast on July 23
- John Finlay journeyed up the Parsnip and Finlay Rivers
- Simon Fraser, an explorer for the Northwest Company, journeyed up the Peace, Parsnip, Pack and Crooked Rivers to McLeod Lake where he established Fort McLeod, the first permanent trading post in British Columbia.
- Simon Fraser established Fort St. James on Stuart Lake, at which time he estimated that 1,000 Indians lived on the lake. Earlier that year, Fraser’s assistant James McDougall was the first white man to visit the area.
- Simon Fraser established Fort George at the junction of the Nechako and Fraser Rivers.
- On March 26 the Northwest Company and the Hudson Bay Company merged under the name of the latter.
- Samuel Black, Chief Trader of the Hudson Bay Company, explored the Finlay River. On May 28, two of his crew deserted at the now-named Deserter’s Canyon.
- All furs collected be each trading post in the Interior of British Columbia were delivered once a year to Fort Vancouver by the Chief Factor and his fur brigade from Fort St James. Fort Vancouver was built near the mouth of the Columbia River and was the headquarters for the Hudson’s Bay Company in western North America.
- James Douglas, Chief Factor of British Columbia, established Fort Victoria at the present site of Victoria BC, due to concern about the influx of Americans into the Northwest. Douglas moved his headquarters from Fort St. James to Fort Victoria this year.
- This year the Gold Rush on the Fraser River started, ending the Hudson’s Bay Company monopoly in New Caledonia.
- The eastern boundary of British Columbia was run along the Finlay River.
- The Crown Colony of British Columbia was established on August 2.
- Two miners found gold on the Parsnip, Finlay, and Peace Rivers, the first discovery being 20 miles from the mouth of the Parsnip River.
- Pete Toy and his partner discovered gold on Toy’s Bar at Finlay Forks which is 10-15 miles below the mouth of the Omenica River.
- With the gold discoveries on the Nass, Stikine, and Peace Rivers, governor James Douglas established the Territory of Stikine under his administration.
- Smallpox decimated many of the Indian tribes in British Columbia.
- The eastern boundary of British Columbia was moved east to the 120th meridian.
- The Dominion of Canada was founded.
- “Twelve Foot” Davies found gold on Silver Creek on the Omineca River.
- Many gold mines are working in the Omineca country with the main access route from Takla Landing on Takla Lake.
- Gold was discovered on Germansen Creek in such quantities that a Gold Commissioner was sent to this area to establish a town “Omineca”, on a bench three miles from its mouth on June 6…. On July 16 an important gold discovery is made on Manson Creek.
- British Columbia entered Confederation on July 20.
- The first Canadian Pacific Railroad survey was run through the district.
- Very few miners remain in the Germansen area.
- Fort Grahame established on the Finlay River.
- The Pine Pass through the Rocky Mountains was surveyed for the first time by J. Hunter, C.P.R. location engineer.
- Only 20 whites left in the entire Omineca Valley
- The McConnell party explored the area from Ft. Grahame to Fishing Lakes on the upper Finlay River.
- Mr. Fox was sent to Fort Grahame as the trader.
- A considerable value in gold was taken from the bar across the Finlay River from the mouth of Bower Creek.
- Moodie Trail, “Police Trail” to the Omineca Gold Mines In September, Inspector Moodie of the R.C.M.P and four men journeyed from Ft St John to Ft Grahame in 3 months, a total of 218 miles
- In 1905 the R.C.M.P. with a crew of 32 men and 60 horses were ordered to clear the Moodie trail 8 feet wide, with corudroy bridges and rest cabins every 30 miles for the miners
- Mr. L. M. Bower descends the Finlay River from Thutade Lake to Finlay Forks.
- Small gold rush on McConnell Creek on the Ingenika River
- Neil Gething took up coal leases in the Rocky Mountain Canyon. This coal is exceptionally high grade coal in this area, and in Carbon Creek.
- Measels epidemic kills one-third of the Indians in the Ft St John area.
- The Peace River area is thrown open for homesteading for the first time.
- The Department of Lands began preliminary surveying in the Rocky Mountain trench area. Mr. F. C. Swannell was the first surveyor sent to the area.
- Two general stores are located at Finlay Forks and over a dozen pre-empters have acquired holdings there
- Big Kettle Fumarole on Police Trail
- Finlay Forks Mr Mrs Adems first white woman, first birth
- Premier Brewster and party travelled to Summit Lake, down the Parsnip to Finlay Forks. Only 4 settlers were left of the 40 pre-empters previously settled in this area. Many left due to the war.
- Fort Ware established by the Hudson Bay Company
- The first bush plane started operating on the Peace River area and was a Fokker monoplane owned by Western Canada Airways Ltd., from Winnipeg. It was used for travelling to the Ingenika mines.
- The Bedeaux Expedition on the Muskwa and Kwadacha Rivers
- Gething’s son, a priest and two women travelled form the Peace Canyon to Germansen’s Landing by boat
- U.S. Army Engineers surveyed the rail line from Prince George north through the Rocky Mountain Trench to Lower Post. From March 9th to October 25th the Alaska Highway was rough-graded.