October 19, 2022

Dreams of Finparpea

The Rise and Fall of Finlay Forks, 1912-1968

Dr. Daniel Sims, Chair of the Department of First Nations Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia

In 1912 Louis Peterson pre-empted land near where the Finlay and Parsnip rivers meet to form the Peace River. He would soon be joined by other settlers and the settler community of Finlay Forks soon emerged. As the potential metropole of Finlay-Parsnip watershed – the so-called Finparpear – Finlay Forks stands as a microcosm of the numerous failed economic developments of the area. It was built on an earlier Tsek’ehne settlement that its settler population refused to acknowledge and today it is often forgotten, situated 300 feet under water at the centre of the Williston Lake reservoir. But, for the moment of its “founding” to its destruction in 1968, a cycle emerged in which every decade it was presented as Canada’s next big thing. Its erasure highlights how recountings of the colonial project not only celebrate the success, but also efface failure.