Culture & History
People have lived along the shores of Prince Rupert Harbour for thousands of years. It was densely populated, with as many as 10,000 people living in a number of ancient Tsimshian villages lining Venn Passage, where the Airport ferry runs. Today you can visit the sites of two of those villages at Laxspa’aws on the Pike Island Natural and Historical Discovery Tour.
The first newcomers arrived with the Hudson’s Bay Company in the the 1830s, with a trading fort built at Lax Kw’alaams, north of Prince Rupert. However, it was the fishing industry that brought major changes. Dozens of salmon canneries were built on the Skeena River and in coastal bays. Each was a self-contained community, with factory, boat shops and housing for the large workforce required. North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site displays not only the canning operations but also the social life of people who lived and worked in these communities.
The completion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1914 brought the next wave of change. The life of the railway workers is recreated in Kwinitsa Railway Station Museum.
Bringing all of our history and culture together is the renowned Museum of Northern British Columbia. With its world-class collections of First Nations art and interpretive displays, it is a must-see. It runs a variety of cultural tours and events in the summer.
The Prince Rupert City & Regional Archives holds a vast storage of archival records and photographs relating to the history of Prince Rupert and the region. Check their website for some of their images available to view online.
Prince Rupert Harbour and City are located within the traditional territories of the Tsimshian First Nations.Tsimshian communities today are Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams, north of Prince Rupert; Kitkatla, Hartley Bay and Klemtu to the south, and Kitselas and Kitsumkalum near Terrace.
Neighbouring First Nations also live in, or visit Prince Rupert, including the Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Haisla and Haida. Each February, the All Native Basketball tournament brings thousands of players and fans to Prince Rupert to celebrate sports and cultural.
Prince Rupert has a thriving arts community, including visual artists, dance and theatre. Some highlights include:
- Ice House Gallery at Atlin Terminal.
- Ruth Harvey Gallery at the Musuem of Northern BC.
- Studio 9 Gallery, Third Avenue.
- UdderFest, Harbour Theatre’s summer theatre festival by Harbour Theatre.
- For more see the Prince Rupert Community Arts Council.