Explore the culture and history of the Northern BC community Kitimat and learn more about the Haisla First Nations and the district's settlement and industrial development.
Haisla First Nations
The Haisla First Nations were the first people to live in the Kitimat Valley. No one knows exactly how long they've been there, but it's estimated at thousands of years.
Most Haisla in the area today live in Kitamaat Village, a small community about 20 minutes east of Kitimat. To see and learn more about the culture and history of the village, walk through and view the totem poles. The totems reveal the village's fascinating past. If you want to take pictures, it's always respectful to ask for permission – they may also share with you some info about the totem's meaning or story.
Settlement and Community Growth
Early European pioneers settled in the Kitimat area in the late 1800s and early 1900s; many had hoped the railway line, which currently runs to the port city of Prince Rupert, would be built to Kitimat and result in great economic success.
The District of Kitimat, however, is a young town that truly came to be in the 1950s as part of the grand scheme to build a huge hydroelectric project and aluminum smelter in the area. Alcan, historically one of the largest and most powerful companies in Canada, put great effort into creating a town which people would love, resulting in a workforce satisfied with living conditions. In an attempt to make the cold Northern British Columbia environment appealing for hundreds of culturally diverse immigrants, Alcan (now Rio Tinto Alcan) built state-of-the-art facilities, offered high salaries, and fostered a safe and family-oriented community.
Culture and People
Kitimat today is still mainly industry-driven with small but growing tourism and retail opportunities. The town's population still has an amazingly diverse mix of cultures.
Kitimatonians also enjoy celebrating and host a variety of festivals year round, including fishing derbies, ATV mud bogging competitions, golf tournaments, and music festivals. Residents are also supportive of their local hockey team, the Kitimat Ice Demons, who are quite successful in the region's senior men's hockey league.
Visit Kitimat Museum & Archives to see photos and artifacts depicting the history of Kitimat and Kitamaat Village. Ask the passionate and knowledgeable staff for a tour.