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6-PBC-Chetwynd-Aboriginal-Dancers
Dancers performing at Aboriginal Activity Day
(Picture BC photo)

Chetwynd

Culture & History

The West Moberly First Nations have a long and rich cultural history in the Chetwynd area.

Their band lands are set along the shores of Moberly Lake, just outside of town. European exploration of the area was conducted circa 1865 by hunter and trapper Henry Moberly, and geologist A.R.C. Selwyn. Since this early history, Chetwynd has continued to develop in relation to various natural resource industries.

Pacific Great Eastern Railway

Originally referred to as "Little Prairie," Chetwynd was officially named in 1959 for Honourable Ralph Chetwynd, who had served as Minister of Railways. The community was incorporated as a village in 1962. Visit the rail yard to see one of the great influences on the town's development. The Pacific Great Eastern Railway (PGE) built the tracks enabling train transport to Vancouver, and the first train arrived in Chetwynd in March of 1958. The John Hart Highway 97 was also an important steppingstone in the town's development, as it opened a transportation route in the early 1950's to Prince George through the Pine Pass.

Disasters and Monuments

In recent decades, Chetwynd has experienced several disasters. In 1972, a huge fire burned the Canfor sawmill to the ground, and in 2000, an oil spill occurred in Pine River. The Chetwynd Echo Newspaper takes great pride in the community and produces a "Then and Now" special edition newspaper with reprints of moments in Chetwynd history.

Chetwynd's hallmark statue, the "Little Giant," is a tall wooden man in stride and holding an axe. The original Little Giant was constructed in 1966. Recently, the community replaced the original Little Giant with a replica carved by Ken Sheen, a local artisan.

Today's Town

Take a break and enjoy a stretch while strolling down the paved pathways next to the Hart Highway and in front of the Chetwynd Visitor Centre. Experience the most recent additions to Chetwynd's unique history, which can be viewed from the paths: Windmills along the main road provide a green energy source for the Winter Lights Celebration, and light up to 5,250 LED Christmas lights. The town is also dotted with chainsaw carvings, more of which are added each year following the Annual Chainsaw Carving Competition.