History of Mackenzie

In 1793 the famous explorer Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the earliest known explorer and surveyor of Canada west of the Rocky Mountains, camped near what is now the municipality of Mackenzie. Our community reflects the spirit of adventure and discovery of its namesake. Fur traders, trappers, prospectors, squatters, missionaries and Hudson’s Bay Company personnel traveled the region. The Kwadacha Nation, Tsay Keh Dene Band and McLeod Lake Indian Band are the First Nations people in our surrounding area.

As the damming of the Peace River would create a huge water reservoir, flooding out the tiny settlement of Finlay Forks and thousands of acres of prime forests, a frantic effort was made in the early 1960’s to harvest the trees on the bottom lands of the Parsnip, Peace, Finlay and Omineca Rivers. Literally dozens of small sawmills and logging operations were involved, including the BC Forest Service, to clear the reservoir basin of what was to become known as Williston Lake.

The District of Mackenzie was virtually carved out of the wilderness in the mid 1960’s to service large pulp and lumber manufacturing facilities. A new "instant" town was created. Roads were built - water systems, sewer systems, schools, a hospital, electrical power lines, houses—all infrastructure that most towns have years to develop, had to be erected immediately. In 1966, the District of Mackenzie was formally incorporated as a municipality.