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The Peace River Block is an 3,500,000-acre (14,200 km2) area of land located in northeastern British Columbia, in the Peace River Country. In exchange for building a rail line across Canada to British Columbia the CPR was given a belt, 20 miles (32 km) on each side of the rail, of land. To compensate the CPR for alienated or non-arable land in the 40-mile (64 km) wide strip, the Province allowed the Dominion government to take control of 3,500,000 acres (14,200 km2) within B.C., northeast of the Rocky Mountains. This arrangement passed the provincial legislature on December 19, 1883, and passed the Dominion house on March 21, 1884, as the "Settlement Act". As all the land north east of the Rocky Mountains became a provincial reserve pending the Dominion government's decision on what land to select prevented homesteading and land claims. After several surveys of the land the Dominion government took possession in 1907. The land the Dominion government chose was a rectanglar-shaped block of land 35 miles (56 km) north-south and 74 miles (119 km) east-west.

The Dominion government opened the southeastern corner of the block in 1912 for homesteading. The Dominion government administered the land from two offices: the first, Peace River Land Agency, in Peace River, Alberta and the second, Grande Prairie Land Agency, in Grande Prairie, Alberta. While the land was in Dominion control the province still provided roads, schools, and other normal provincial government services. Conflicts between the federal and provincial governments occurred over the jurisdiction over land, water, and mineral rights. An agreement was reached between the two governments on February 20, 1930, which returned the block to the provincial government.

References

  • Calverly, Dorothea. "Peace River Block" in Lure of the South Peace. Dawson Creek, BC: South Peace Historical Book Committee, 1981.

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