British Columbia

Prince George, B.C., history you probably didn't know

Mar. 6 is the official centennial of the city of Prince George and what was once a lumber industry boom town is now a diversified regional hub, with jobs in health, education, and an emerging technology industry.

The city that invented the beer can once had the most millionaires per capita in the country

Prince George, B.C., is celebrating its centennial on Mar. 6, 2015. (

Mar. 6 is the official centennial of the city of Prince George, B.C. and CBC will be there to celebrate!

Once a boom town based on the expanding lumber industry, the city is today a diversified regional hub, with jobs in health, education, and an emerging technology industry.

To mark the occasion, here are five things you probably didn’t know about Prince George.

1. You can thank Prince George for canned beer

In the 1960s, Prince George businessman Ben Ginter founded the Caribou Brewing Company. Among his innovations were the Pil’can - a pilsner beer served in a can. Though not the first to package beer in a can, the popularity of Ginter's brew triggered larger breweries to follow suit.

While established names like Molson, Labatt, and Carling thought it was just a gimmick, beer drinkers loved it and Ginter went on to capture over five per cent of the market before the major brewers came around.

2. Prince George once had the most millionaires per capita in the country and was the second-largest city in British Columbia

In the 1980s, Prince George was riding high on a boom in the lumber industry. In 1981, it was the second largest city in British Columbia.

That same decade, census records indicated it had the most millionaires per capita in the country, thanks largely to independently-operated mills.

On a less-celebratory note, Maclean’s magazine ranked Prince George the most dangerous city in Canada for three years in a row.

3. Prince George wasn’t always called Prince George

Prior to incorporation, there were three communities in the Prince George area: South Fort George, Central Fort George, and Prince George.

When the city was incorporated, it was as Fort George. Business leaders, however, pushed for the name change as they felt “Prince George” was more modern. The city adopted its current name in 1913.

4. Prince George is situated on the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh

The original inhabitants of the Prince George area are the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation.

In order to make way for the city and railway, the Lheidli T’enneh village was burned and the people were moved to a reserve best-known as Shelley. According to Lheidli band member Rena Zatorski, that move is still considered a forced relocation.

5. Prince George has long been a leader in post-secondary education

When the College of New Caledonia opened the doors to its Prince George campus in 1963, CBC radio reports described it as the “first university between Vancouver and the North Pole.”

When the University of Northern British Columbia opened in 1990, it was the first new university in Canada in over 25 years.

In Prince George? Check out these CBC events on Mar. 6 and 7 to mark the city's centennial.


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