Small Independent saw Mills
There is a well-established independent attitude in the Peace River country that had its origins in the history of region. The early settlers were adventurous and individualistic when they traveled to the Peace River country before there was a railroad, functioning roads, or government services. This independent nature was seen in the way many established their own homesteads, saw mills, fishing, trapping, mining, and freighting enterprises. The first concern for those who arrived in the frontier of the Peace River country was to be self-reliant, fulfilling their needs and those of the people around them.
There were many early examples of the Peace River country independence and self-reliance was seen when trappers at trading posts seeded gardens and crops. Missionaries arrived and many planted gardens and harvested crops for their own needs as well others around them.
In 1909, a group of settlers from Ontario arrived having traveled over the Long Trail with 18 ox carts, known as the “Bull Outfit.” They settled in the Beaverlodge area. They broke the land, seeded crops, and gardens. They raised cattle and turned to lumbering, fishing, trapping, mining, and freighting.
Another example of the independent spirit of the first settlers was seen in the Peace country booster, Anel Maynard Bezanson, who arrived in the Peace River in 1906. Bezanson published a promotional book entitled, The Peace River Trail, that sold 5,000 copies. He returned to the Peace River country in 1910 and took some land on the Smoky River were it joins the Simonette River. He planned to build a saw mill that would provide the lumber to establish the community of Bezanson. He was convinced the railroad would pass through his community and aggressively pursued his plans. When the Edmonton Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway (EDBC) was built north of this town site, Bezanson’s grand plan was not fully realized.