Bezanson’s early beginnings date back to the early 1900’s. Ancel Maynard (A.M.) Bezanson, an adventurer from Nova Scotia, was a significant promoter of the Peace River County who encouraged settlement and economic development of the area. His descriptions of the vast agricultural areas and immense opportunities that awaited new setters were published in his first book (of 3), The Peace River Trail, in 1907 by the Edmonton Journal.
A.M. Bezanson learned of recommendations for a rail route through the Peace River Region. In 1908, he had established a town site plan that he believed would be an important community based on the anticipated rail crossing of the river along the banks of the Smoky River and Simonette River Junctions. This site was also located at the former crossing of the Edson Trail over the Smoky River. Maynard incorporated Bezanson Townsites Ltd. In 1912 and by the beginning of 1913, the townsite quarter was subdivided into lots with wide streets suitable for street cars. He had agents selling the lots in Vancouver and Edmonton.
By 1914, the brochure “Looking Ahead in the Peace River Country – Building of a City” was released by A.M. Bezanson. This featured the map of the townsite plan with 16 numbered lots, streets and avenues and the rail crossing. A road was built in to the townsite and a ferry was established to cross the Smoky River from the Edson Trail. By the end of 1914, Bezanson was a thriving pioneer settlement and by 1915, the Townsite had 20 buildings, including a general store, hotel, blacksmith shop, bakery and church which also served as a schoolhouse.
Because the development of the Bezanson Townsite was closely linked to the development of the railway, when E.D. and B.C. Railroad built their rail line to enter Grande Prairie from the north bypassing Bezanson, the townsite lost hope. A fire also destroyed the McLeod Block in 1916. By 1917, the Bezanson’s left the area. In 1922, the government decided to move the ferry site down river and by 1923, the last resident left the townsite. Morrison’s Store was dismantled and rebuilt as a store and residence at Glen Leslie. In 1926, Pat Rooney purchased the Bezanson Presbyterian Church, and the logs were used to build a store at the present-day hamlet of Bezanson. Mr. Rooney presided as postmaster until 1931.
In 1986, the Bezanson Townsite was designated a Registered Historic resource by the province.
The legacy of determination, commitment and hard work still exists today. Bezanson is a community committed to teamwork and dedication among the various organizations within the community to the betterment and growth of the community and surrounding area. Leadership is vital and the Bezanson Agricultural Society, West Smoky Legion #244, and the Bezanson Volunteer Fire Department Society (now known as the Bezanson Recreational Society), recognized a need for all user groups to work together as a team to accomplish a positive difference and connect the community. This partnership has led to the growth of the 14 organizations within the community doing just that – meeting quarterly to share ideas, opportunities, needs and programming to grow this community. This is an intentional meeting and positive atmosphere. From this teamwork also emerged discoverbezanson.ca, the website designed specifically for the community’s benefit.
Through the efforts of a volunteers, the website, discoverbezanson.ca was built and now widely recognized among the groups as to the value it brings to the community. A monthly newsletter promotes the opportunities happening in the community.