Fort Nelson

Fort Nelson is a town of approximately 5000 residents in British Columbia's northeastern corner. It is the administrative centre of the newly formed Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, a first for BC. The majority of Fort Nelson's economic activities have historically been concentrated in the energy and tourism industries, and until very recently, forestry. The forests surrounding Fort Nelson are part of Canada's boreal forest. Fort Nelson is just on the southwest edge of the Greater Sierra oil & gas field.

The town lies east of the Northern Rocky Mountains in the Peace River region, directly along the Alaska Highway at mile 300. Year round, the town is home to over 4500 residents while 1600 additional residents settle in the surrounding area, which includes the Fort Nelson First Nations reserve. There are about 500 members living on the reserve, and across the region as a whole Aboriginal people make up approximately 15% of the total population.

The community experiences significant seasonal population increases. In winter, drilling rig activities bring in another 2000-5000 seasonal residents and during the summer tourist season (April through September) about 140000 visitors travel through the municipality, most on their way to or from Alaska.


Fort Nelson, named in honour of Horatio Nelson was established as a trading post in 1805 by the North West Company.

Throughout its history Fort Nelson has been moved five times due to flooding on the Fort Nelson River. Fort Nelson now currently lies on the shores of one of the Fort Nelson Rivers Tributaries, The Muskwa River.

The Fort Nelson Airport was built in 1941 as part of the World War II Northwest Air Staging Route.

  • In Fort Nelson
    • Fort Nelson Heritage Museum
    • Canadian Open Dog Sled Races (January)
    • Heritage Days (February)
    • Trappers' Rendezvous (March)
    • Trade Show (May)
    • Canoeing down the Fort Nelson River
  • In the Northern Rockies
    • Liard Hot Springs
    • Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park
    • Smith River Falls
    • Wokkpash Recreation Area
    • Muncho Lake (of blue-green color, due to glacial flour)
    • Rafting on the Liard River

On 18 June 2005, people in Fort Nelson held a water balloon fight with over 40000 water balloons being tossed in less than three minutes. At the time, it was a world record.

Youtube community updates

In an effort to keep the community informed of current developments, Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Councillor Doug Roper began an independent, no budget weekly video series exhibiting various events and organizations around town. The non-profit segments are featured weekly on Ken Johnson's website and can be viewed directly on YouTube.


Fort Nelson had a population of 4,514 people in 2006, which was an increase of 7.8% from the 2001 census count. The median household income in 2005 for Fort Nelson was $83,188, which is above the British Columbia provincial average of $52,709.


Fort Nelson lies near the confluence of Fort Nelson River (which took the name from the town), Muskwa River and Prophet River.


The town is located along Highway 97 (Alaska Highway), south of the intersection with Highway 77.

Greyhound Canada operates a bus depot in the town.


Fort Nelson is primarily served by the Fort Nelson Airport, with several smaller airstrips in close proximity:

  • Fort Nelson/Gordon Field Airport
  • Fort Nelson/Mobil Sierra Airport
  • Fort Nelson (Parker Lake) Water Aerodrome

CN Rail operates a line which has its northern terminus in Fort Nelson that runs 3 trains weekly, and is a former BC Rail line.