Kaien Island was once the meeting place of the TSIMSHIAN and HAIDA and the city has preserved numerous relics of its native past. Prince Rupert (named for the first Hudson's Bay Company governor) was envisioned in the early 1900s as the western terminus of the GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC RAILWAY (GTPR) and as a rival of Vancouver as Canada's Pacific outlet, but the hoped-for boom never materialized. The fishing industry became important to the city's economy after World War I. During World War II the port became a shipbuilding centre and was used by the American army as a transportation base for men and materials to Alaska, the Pacific Islands and the Far East. After the war the economy received a boost with the development of a pulp mill on Watson Island.
The port of Prince Rupert (1912) was designated a national port in 1972 and later became a locally controlled Port Corporation (1984). Fairview, a general cargo and forest products terminal, was completed in 1977 (expanded in 1990). In the early 1980s new interest in the coalfields of northeastern British Columbia and strategies to speed up grain movement to the Prairies' Pacific Rim markets affected the city and led to the construction of grain and coal facilities on nearby Ridley Island (completed in 1984).
The Pacific Rim countries are the destination for the majority of the exports through Prince Rupert. Although the city suffered in the 1990s with the closure of the coal mines of northeastern British Columbia and of its pulp mill in 2001, trade with China and other Asian countries has since rebounded. A major container port expansion is underway, which would make the port the second-largest handling facility on the West Coast. Prince Rupert is the most important fish-landing port on the northwest coast and the terminus of the BC and Alaska ferry systems.
Tourism is growing rapidly with the expansion of cruise ship traffic and locally with an emphasis on sportfishing. Kwinitsa Railway Station Museum, in one of the last remaining stations of the GTPR (built circa 1912), depicts Prince Rupert's development. The Museum of Northern British Columbia, in the award-winning Chatham Village Longhouse, and a tour of Pike Island, provide exceptional insights into the First Nations culture and history. The city's cultural venue is the Performing Arts Centre. Its daily newspaper, the Prince Rupert Daily News, was first published in 1910. Prince Rupert is home to 2 post-secondary campuses: Northwest Community College and University of Northern British Columbia.
See also PORTS AND HARBOURS.
Author ALAN F.J. ARTIBISE Revised: KEN FAVRHOLDT
Links to Other Sites
The official website for the City of Prince Rupert, BC.
See maps and statistical data for regions and communities throughout British Columbia. A Government of British Columbia website.
BC Geographical Names
Search the BC Geographical Names Information System for historical and geographical data about specific locations in British Columbia.
British Columbia Archives
Explore the fascinating history of BC through online digitized copies of selected government documents, manuscripts, maps, architectural plans, photographs, illustrations, audio and video files, newspapers and much more.
The official website for BC Ferries. Ferry schedules, information about the ferry fleet, travel guides, promotional videos, and more.