BC’s Oldest Interior Community and Largest City Along the World-Famous Alaska Highway
With a population of 21,000 and growing, Fort St. John is the largest city in Northeastern BC and the largest BC city situated along the world-famous Alaska Highway. Deemed ‘The Energetic City’ by its municipal government, the name reflects Fort St. John’s large resource base of oil, natural gas, forestry, and agriculture, as well as the young average age of its residents.
While oil and gas are large draws to the city, many tourists stop in Fort St. John, located at Mile 47 of the Alaska Highway, on their way from Mile 0 in Dawson Creek to Alaska. But there’s more to see and do in the city than the Alaska Highway and there’s a growing accommodations industry to go with it.
Holiday Inn Express
Conveniently located near the Alaska Highway and Fort St. John’s Airport, the Holiday Inn Express Fort St. John prides itself on being the only hotel in town that has a pool, hot tub, and waterslide. General Manager Priyanka Singh Dsouza says the pet- and kid-friendly hotel attracts oil and gas corporate clients, tourists passing by on their way to Alaska, hockey teams, and even members of the US army.
Besides the pool and ample green space, Singh Dsouza says the hotel is known for its customer service: “You won’t get this customer service at any other hotel in town. Guests frequently comment on the warmness of our staff and how customer-oriented the Holiday Inn is.”
“Tourists frequently travel to nearby Tumbler Ridge, a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts.”
While Fort St. John may be a largely industrial city, it isn’t just for those in the oil and gas industry. Singh Dsouza says tourists can also visit Site C, the hydroelectric dam under construction on the nearby Peace River. There’s hiking in town, and tourists frequently travel to nearby Tumbler Ridge, a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Fort St. John is home to 11 hotels and the owners of the Holiday Inn Express own three of them: the Pomeroy Hotel & Conference Centre, Stonebridge Hotel, and Pomeroy Inn & Suites. Many of the hotels were built in 2014-16, prior to the market crash. “While 2016 was a hard year, with the recession hitting the oil and gas industry, business picked up pretty fast,” says Singh Dsouza. “People again stopped travelling during COVID, but we’re starting to get customers back again, and are especially seeing loyalty-based customers returning.”
Singh Dsouza expects to have a busy season this summer with the continued construction of Site C and rising oil and gas prices. The hotel landscape is also changing, with new brands coming to the city: Ramada recently took over the Northern Grand Hotel (now called Ramada by Wyndham Northern Grand Hotel & Conference Centre), Travelodge took over the Econolodge, and Coast Hotels took over the Lakeview Inn & Suites.
Best Western Plus Chateau Fort St. John
The Best Western Plus Chateau Fort St. John, located in a residential district off the Alaska Highway, features a sleek, modern design with ample amenities, including a hot tub, steam sauna, fitness centre, and in-house restaurant.
Catering to those working in the oil and gas industry or on their way to Alaska, General Manager Leo Saad says visitors enjoy the ‘calm city’ that is Fort St. John. “People want to stay in the town to relieve their stress.” With all 123 rooms equipped with kitchenettes it is also an ideal location for longer term stays.
Home2 Suites by Hilton
General Manager Nadya McLean says the “Home2Suites by Hilton is unique and fitting for the community. We are an extended stay hotel catering to people who come to Fort St. John for a long period of time.”
Besides the saltwater pool and hot tub, McLean says the hotel amenities—like BBQs, patios, and green space—are designed to help long-term guests build connections and a sense of community. “We want to make it easier for people to be away from their families.”
“Whether you’re on your way to Alaska or planning an outdoor adventure, you’ll have a warm welcome.”
McLean encourages visitors to explore the North Peace Cultural Centre, home to the Peace Arts Gallery, The Fort St. John Library, and a Cafe in the heart of the city. She says the Pomeroy Sports Centre is also one-of-a-kind and worth a visit, featuring 2 NHL-sized ice rinks and one of only four indoor Olympic-sized long-track speed skating ovals in North America (others being in Utah, Wisconsin, and Calgary).
Whether you’re stopping by on your way to Alaska or planning an outdoor adventure in Tumbler Ridge, it’s clear you’ll have a warm welcome in Fort St. John from its hoteliers and the community.
Photos courtesy of Northern BC Tourism/Shayd Johnson