Canada’s World Refugee Obligations Met by British Columbia’s Peace River Valley Site ‘C’ Settlement
photo by Picfile /Flickr
All great civilizations have had their beginnings in
River Valleys beside great rivers.
Africa’s Rift Valley remains as the origin of the world’s peoples
The Peace River is one of Western Canada’s Great
River Valleys. Unfortunately it’s position on globe
earth far from Africa’s Rift Valley leaves it out of the
loop of history becoming home to one of the world’s civilizations.
The Peace River’s less than benign climate has not been conducive
to serious year round settlement, although with global warming
this may change. We will just have to let nature take its course.
However the Peace like all the world’s River Valley holds
the elements for sustainable human settlement, access
to continuous running fresh water with an obtainable source of
protein in its fsh and visiting wild fowl ducks & geese. In addition,
the ﬂooding annually of the valley uplands with receding silt & soil
deposits provide rich & fertile plains for growing annual pasture
gazing grasses and woodland forest trees for fuel and construction.
While not specific to the Peace, the description of
North America’s continental evaluation of its
climate modifying physical features as described by writers
Jones and Cushman in the Peterson Nature Series Te Prairie.
I have copied the part of it that expresses North American
evolution much better than this presenter ever could:
“Prior to the Northern Rocky Mountain uplift the entire
central North American climate had been dominated
by warm moist air masses that swept east from the Pacific from
the Gulf of Mexico. Te rising mountains created a barrier that
blocked the Pacific storms squeezing out most of their moisture
before it reached the plains. Tis rain shadow helped to create
the more arid conditions that favour growth of grasses over trees.
Fossils of camels, rhinoceroses, horses and other grass eating
herbivores unearthed on the plains suggest an erratic
progression. Recent analysis of plant micro-fossils indicates that the
extensive grasslands covered parts of the great plains even earlier
perhaps beginning in the late Eocene Epoch, 35 million years ago.
These early grasslands were dominated by “cool season”
grasses, species that thrive under relatively mild
growing conditions. Te quintessential Tallgrasses, including
warm season bluestems and switchgrasses did not begin to appear
until about 10 million years ago. Even then, forests continued to
cover much of the Great Plains with grasslands spreading during
drier climactic periods, and contracting during wetter periods.”
quoted from Peterson Series The North American Prairie by Stephen Jones & Ruth
Carol Cushman; Houghton & Mifflin
The warming and drying trend continued for several
millennia reaching its maximum intensity between 8,000
and 5,000 years ago. During the height of this hot & dry period
the prairie pushed eastward replacing forests in parts of present
day Indiana Nebraska, Ohio and perhaps Pennsylvania [and also
North into the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Te
sands of Western Nebraska[Probably North into B.C. & Alberta
also]. All but a few isolated groves of conifers disappeared from
the Western Plains. Bos Bison a smaller more agile species than
the great plains, prairie dogs and ground squirrels proliferated,
and Pronghorn populations climbed into the tens of millions.
About 5,000 years ago the Climatic Pendulum began
to swing back toward slightly cooler & wetter
conditions. By the time the first white explorers stepped out into
the grasslands the forests had begun to creep westward filling
the pockets of prairie on the Great lakes region & the upper
Mississippi River Valley [and Northward to the Peace River Valley]
Nevertheless, all of these early travelers marveled at the
expanse of grass that seemed to extend forever beyond
the last islands of forest. Nineteenth-century author Washington
Irving characterized the landscape as being “inexpressively lonely”
and like “a desert world.” Writer Francis Parkman referred to it
as “a barren, trackless waste.” In contrast, nineteenth-century
artist George Catlin extolled a land of “soul-melting scenery…
where I Heaven sheds its purest light and lends its richest tints.”
Whatever their opinions, writers & artists realized that the
Canadian Prairie Landscape as opposed to the settled
Landscapes of Britian, Europe and Eastern North America – it, the
Canadian Prairie remained an evolving landscape. Te BC Peace
River, Grasslands with those of Alberta that blend into the Alberta
is: hidden lakes and wooded rolling prairie lands extend East to meld
into a background of the Caribou Mountains, Buﬀalo Head Hills &
Birch Mountains complex. East of the hills & mountains lies the
Athabasca River, the tar sands, the tar sands extraction rendering works
& the open pit mines-holes around the Fort McMurray Settlement.
The Peace in the North winds & snakes around
the south end of these Caribou Mountains
and ﬂows into Wood Buﬀalo, now the home of Canada’s
B o s B i s o n and the endangered Whooping Crane Grus
americana. It is the second largest of Canadian National Parks.
It continues to the east where it becomes a series
of lakes at east and of Lesser Slave River ﬂowing
North to Great Slave Lake. It one of the Canadian Arctic’s
Great Lakes that remain from the melting of glaciers that
once covered Canada’s part of the North American continent.
The first attempt at human settlement of the BC Peace
River open grasslands, Alberta wooded rolling land,
hidden lake & small lakes, prairie occurred just after the end of WW1
in 1918-19, was by the Canadian Federal Government. Te Peace and
Alberta lands were called the Dominion Soldier Settlement Lands and
were also subdivided into 10 and 20 acre plots to be sold to returning
veterans and their families at very low prices with long periods &
payment at very low interest rates to Veterans and their families.
There was a minimum of infrastructure, veterans could earn enough
working on roads, gravel roads, settlements sites, school sites and the
like. It was not only other Valleys in Southern BC that were opened
for soldier’s settlements. Whereas not only in other valleys Keremeos
in the adjoining east side of the Okanagan Valley and the adjoining
Similkameen Valley. Te Fraser Valley’s Lower Mainland the program
continued in 1945 for veterans of WW2 in Richmond, the Cowichan
Valley on Vancouver Island, and Vernon in North Okanagan.
The Dominion Soldier Settlement scheme on the
Peace River lands was never very successful in
attracting settlers; it’s harsh Northern winters and remoteness,
probably the main dissuading features. The Alberta Woodland
lake land did prove attractive to settlement to veterans & other
non veterans previously in settlements such as Beaverlodge
where the Dominion Government established a crop and plant
experimental station. See Vic Chanasyk, page 1 of Miscellanea.
Other successful prairie land settlements in Alberta produce
Grand Prairie, Spirit River & other smaller settlements on the
Alberta side, with Dawson Creek and Pouce Coupe on the BC side.
In this Landscape Architect’s opinion, British Columbian
Peace River valley grasslands are ready and waiting for the
settlement. Not for veterans who are fighters of wars but their children
and grandchildren remanent of their families who are victims of wars.
In preparing Site C, that part of the Peace lands
for the damming and flooding, BC Hydro, a
provincial company, has built accommodations for it’s fort’s
employees & prepared the ground for dam construction
to flood Site C. By fortunate coincidence is made ready
to take the first wave of 1000 or so refugee immigrants.
A start to settle, house & feed the world’s current
great human disaster. Those thousands of children
and families who have lost everything, their homes, family
members, and perhaps worst of all, their country. These people
have lost their place in the world along with their hope.
Our proposition is: Canada through the
United Nations for Our Country
to redeem its place in the world, a place where
hope can return and regain for the war ravaged immigrant, a
place back in the world in Western Canada’s Peace River Valley.
The process could begin almost immediately. BC
Hydro, Peace land owner, a BC Provincial body, could cede the
land & preliminarily preparation land work and existing worker
housing to the Canadian government, who then would give it to
the UNHCR, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,
who would ‘Run the Show’, or most of it. From selecting the
immigrants to transporting them to the Peace, building additional
housing and infrastructure. It would become the one Grand
Canadian Gesture for humanity. Take up where we left oﬀ with
newly funded mandate, for the Blue Berets in Peace Keeping.
Let’s Do it Now!
Respectfully, with due Canadian Caution & Consideration our
two most Canadian traits.
A New Canadian Settlement
* 1000 refugees Settlement Grounds Should Site C not be built as a dam, it’s land
would need to be regenerated, an opportunity for refugees who in turn would be helping
Canada to see with a wider perspective.
* Refugees to be accommodated on arrival in Canada settled & housed in the Site C
Contractor’s existing large camp.
* all quarters UN operated and managed.
* Refugees learn: by taking training in land
husbandry, Tree Keeping, food and craft
tree management & forest management,
Permaculture; along with learning English, our
Canadian history & cultural heritage.
* PM Trudeau & his Minister of Indigenous
Aﬀairs with Tribal Chiefs of the Peace Region
to meet & welcome the new immigrants
* Team of consultants (-see A Modest Proposal
to follow) to select suitable site C land location
to establish orchards, prairie water
dugout locations throughout site C area lands
suitably contoured to build permanent Refugee
Settlements based on the Mongolian Model. It is
one of many Site C settlement schemes possible
that can be implemented. Ian McHarg model
recommended. Complete site analysis.
* Tree keeper/management family to include 1
male or female adult, head of household, 4 or less
children – can have 2 babes in arms if the head of
house is female.
* Orcharding: Model to have 32 soft fruit &
hard fruit (edible nuts) orchards & Willows,
Corylus/Filbert, pollarding canes for woven
baskets. (elm, hardy elm), willow & garden
stakes & woven wooden fences now fences.
The Mongolian Settlement Model has
the components to provide 1000 refugee families
with sustainable year round food supply via
an adequate and sized family shelter warmed
throughout the winter by our endless supply of
aﬀordable natural gas, passive solar, and chickens
which can be used for food, and also give oﬀ
* to sustain 100 refugee families in construction
buildings followed by a transition to greenhouse
living, and a possible larger Arcology, see
Miscellanea (in PDF at end)
* Each 100 family settlement to have living
48 – 4 and 8 block settlements, Each one of the
blocks are either 4 homes or 8 homes, with cross
corridor to entrance, connected to 32 year round
greenhouses. Each greenhouse operated and
managed by 1 refugee family.
Site selection: These writers favour Ian
McHarg’s book Design with Nature, the key
to maximizing the refugee & indigenous
settlements, their numbers, & locations on the
Peace; and Tasmania’s Bill Mollison’s Book,
writings on Permaculture, A Designers’ Manual.
* In addition each 100 family settlement
area includes 32 or more separate Prairie water
dugouts and strings of combined dugouts.
* as the Settlement ground contour dictates
settlement grounds amount 250 hectares more
or less (rough guess by water could be larger or
smaller well dugout.
* Dugout or string of dugout, string of lakes,
drainage ground lake and prairie dugout ground
* Woodland for fibre & tree wood, hardwood
trees for lumber, woodlands located as shown in
Mongolian Model see miscellanea image of site
and greenhouse and adaptation for Site C.
* Tying together site with sounding lake &
hillside, woodlands, an open prairie, grasslands,
strings of lakes, bands of forest woodlands to
give each Site C settlement a natural landscape,
* Restored Landscape – using trees, swales ( a
tree system), ornamentals as well as edibles.
* Look to town of Churchill, Manitoba &
Bombadier Company as examples.
* Find ways to include Canadian
communities & companies to provide a
transport system to residents – Bombadier
fleet of snowmobiles, maintenance
teams, crews & staff to teach operation &
maintenance. Churchill, Manitoba to provide
knowledge of polar bear proof snow vehicles;
where they solved their bear problem by
devising safe work and transportation
View the Proposal here
Don Hoffmann shares his Peace River Valley Photography