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Morice River and Buck Flats

Canoeing at Stepp Lake, Nenikëkh/Nanika-Kidprice Provincial Park near Houston

(Chris Harris photo)

Houston

Culture & History

Situated within the traditional territory of the Wet'suwet'en, Houston's location was once an important First Nations gathering place.

In the early years, it was also a campsite for loggers, miners, trappers, traders, and fishers working and travelling in the area.

Railway

The town itself, originally called Pleasant Valley, was established in 1904 as a tie-cutting centre for the Grand Trunk Railway. The railway, built from the eastern side of the country all the way to Prince Rupert on the west coast, was a massive undertaking at the time. As a result of a newspaper contest, the name then changed to Houston in 1910, after a former mayor of Nelson, BC.

For a small glimpse into Houston's past, check out two of the town's oldest buildings, behind the Houston Visitor Centre on Highway 16. The Anglican Church was built in 1917, while the schoolhouse was built in 1916.

Mill Town

A mill was soon built and by the 1940s Houston revolved around wood processing. Houston's economy and most of its residents today, still depend on forestry for survival, though mining and tourism are also important. Two of the largest mills in the country, as well as a few smaller ones, operate in Houston.

To witness the immensity of these mills, drive just a few minutes west of town to the industrial area where they are located. Ask for directions at the Houston Visitor Centre.

Houston Today

Workers with a variety of backgrounds flocked to Houston for jobs. Community members come from countries overseas such as Holland and India, as well as from different parts of Canada such as Alberta and Newfoundland.

Houston is small, forcing locals to be self-reliant. But the town is open and friendly to visitors. Residents here are content with their long-term jobs and the wonderful recreational opportunities the surrounding nature provides them. They gather together often for festive community events.

Popular local festivities include mud bog races, the Fireman's ball, drag races, Canada Day celebrations and the annual fall fair. Every year during the last week of November, the community hosts a huge craft sale in the mall, and at Christmas volunteers light up Steelhead Park, a nicely landscaped green space along Highway 16. The rodeo, which takes place every May long weekend, is another busy event.