The District of Taylor is a small town in northeastern British Columbia, Canada, located on mile 36 of the Alaska Highway. Taylor, a member municipality of the Peace River Regional District, covers an area of about 17.09 km² with 1,373 residents. As it is just south of the much larger city of Fort St. John, there is a sizable amount of commuting and interaction between the two.
The town sits on a terrace 60 m above the north bank of the Peace River. The first settler on the flat was a trapper named Herbert Taylor in 1911. The town incorporated in 1958 with industrial business beginning to locate there. Since then, Taylor has remained a small town, even though it has developed a large industrial base. It has become home to the annual World's Invitational Class 'A' Gold Panning Championships and was featured on the CBC Television program Village on a Diet.
The town, and the Taylor Flats upon which the town is located, are named after Donald Herbert Taylor, a fur-trader with the Hudson's Bay Company who regularly met his Aboriginal trading counterparts on this river flat. In 1912 Taylor left his employers and took up residence on the flats with a few other squatters. That year the federal government opened the area to homesteading and Taylor was granted the land upon which he had settled. These early settlers were trappers with the first farm established by Henry Philip, from Glasgow, who inherited buildings, equipment and land from his survey team when they left the area. In 1919, with the help of Taylor's nine children, along with those from a few American families who settled there, the provincial government opened the Taylor Flats School.
These early settlers all came to the area through the Peace River Country, through Grande Prairie and Pouce Coupe, and across the Peace River. Some decided to settle on the steep-sloped south side of the Peace River, an area that would become known as South Taylor. To cross the river a cable ferry, which would prove to be accident-prone, was built in the 1920s but was soon replaced with a motor-driven ferry. This ferry was used until 1942 when the U.S. Army came through the area building the Alaska Highway and constructed the long Peace River Suspension Bridge. The highway connected the town to a rail station in Dawson Creek reducing the dependence on shipping along the river. The bridge suddenly collapsed on October 16, 1957 with no injuries or fatalities. A new rail trestle, from the rail extension from Chetwynd to Fort St. John, was used while constructing the replacement Peace River Bridge.
Major industrial development began in 1957, when Westcoast Energy (later Duke Energy) built the province's first gas processing plant, as well as a refinery and pipeline to Kamloops. The community that formed around this industrial development was incorporated as a Village on August 23, 1958 and soon after Canfor opened a planer mill. Meanwhile, upstream, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam was completed in 1966 and the Peace Canyon Dam in 1980, which controlled the level and flow of the Peace River, making navigation and flood control much easier.
Following the construction of a natural gas processing plant by Westcoast Energy in 1985, Fibreco Pulp opened its sawmill in 1988, and the Village was re-incorporated into the District of Taylor in 1989. Despite the closure of the Petro-Canada refinery in 1991, economic growth continued throughout the decade as Westcoast Energy's McMahon Gas Plant expanded in 1991 and added a cogeneration plant in 1993. Fibreco Pulp doubled its capacity in 1996, the Younger Natural Gas Liquids Extraction Plant (to extract water and sulphur from natural gas) was expanded in 1996, and the Taylor Straddle plant (to extract ethane from natural gas) was built in 1997.Since 1993, the town of 1,373 residents have built a new hockey arena, leisure skating arena, curling rink, and an 18 hole golf course. Strong community pride also developed as demonstrated by the town placing first at the provincial level, in its small category, in the parks and gardens-oriented Communities in Bloom Competition in 1997 and second in the national competition in 1998. Other local projects have included building a memorial garden and cenotaph in 2000 dedicated to the 341st Engineers of the U.S. Army corps of Engineers who were stationed on the Taylor Flats in 1942 during the construction of the Alaska Highway and the Peace River Suspension Bridge.