A Day in Prince Rupert

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By the British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Mount Robson 

We love BC, and we want you to enjoy your time spent visiting our home. In order to provide the best travel information possible, the staff at our visitor centres gain first-hand knowledge by going on familiarization tours (FAM’s). This summer, staff from the British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Mount Robson, the British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Merritt and the Valemount Visitor Centre spent a day in Prince Rupert discovering the incredible attractions available in this beautiful coastal Northern BC city. Here’s a first hand look at a few of the attractions they visited, along with another couple that are worthy of a stop while you’re in Prince Rupert.

1. Museum of Northern BC

Watching the Gwiis’amiilgigohl dancers at the Museum of Northern British Columbia in Prince Rupert. Photo: Wendy Dyson

Watching the Gwiis’amiilgigohl dancers at the Museum of Northern BC in Prince Rupert. Photo: Wendy Dyson

The first stop on this awesome trip was the Museum of Northern BC, where we began our day with the Seasons of Change Interpretive Tour. This one-hour program runs twice daily, and guides visitors through the museum, with interpreters sharing the history of the Northwest Coast Tsmishian people. Another interpretive program about Northwest Coast Archeology also runs daily throughout the summer.  The museum has an incredible collection of art and artifacts providing insight into the life and history of these First Nations peoples. After viewing the outstanding displays and deep history of the area, we were entranced by the Gwiis’amiilgigohl dancers as they performed legends and stories with extraordinary skill and passion. The museum offers this wonderful performance as a special tour which can be booked in advance for groups of 12 or more during the summer months, and is a spectacular display that you won’t forget.

2. North Pacific Cannery 

Exploring the General Store at the North Pacific Cannery in Prince Rupert. Photo: Amanda McKeen

Exploring the General Store at the North Pacific Cannery in Prince Rupert. Photo: Amanda McKeen

Our next stop was the North Pacific Cannery. This National Heritage Site is a fascinating part of the history of BC’s fishing industry. Build in 1888, the cannery is the oldest remaining salmon cannery on the west coast of North America. Featuring 30 buildings on the coast and along pilings over the Skeena River, this historic village is still almost completely intact. With boardwalks connecting the buildings over the river, the cannery offers visitors a chance to walk through history. Throughout the summer, they offer hourly tours of the cannery and buildings, providing the history of the site and insight into the methods used during nearly 90 years of salmon production in the village. Stop by the Cannery Café for a homemade lunch before stopping by the Gift Shop, where you can pick up crafts unique to this region as a memory of your trip.

3. Cow Bay Shopping District

The entrance to historic Cow Bay, Prince Rupert's shopping district. Photo: Amanda Pinyon

The entrance to Cow Bay, Prince Rupert’s shopping district. Photo: Amanda Pinyon

After a morning of incredible art and fascinating history, we headed back to the waterfront to explore the Cow Bay Shopping District, located in Cameron Bay. The Bay received its nickname in 1909, when the first herd of dairy cows being delivered to the area had to swim ashore because no docks had yet been built. This quaint shopping district is made up of historic buildings and offers outstanding restaurants, cafes and boutiques. It’s is a great place to find unique gifts and souvenirs from the area. One of our highlights was the Ice House Gallery, which is an artists’ cooperative with a wide selection of works by local artists. The other was the Prince Rupert Port Interpretive Centre, home to interesting displays that tell the story of the Port, spanning the period from 10,000 years ago when the area was a trading hub for the Tsimshian First Nation to the present, with the rapid growth of the port’s commerce in containers, coal, and grain.

4. Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary

A mama grizzly and her cub at the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary near Prince Rupert. Photo: Chris Wheeler

A mama grizzly and cub at the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary near Prince Rupert. Photo: Chris Wheeler

With only one day in Prince Rupert, we were unable to visit every attraction on our list. The Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary is a must-see for anyone spending a few days in the city. The sanctuary is located 45 km (28 mi) northeast of Prince Rupert, and is only accessible by boat. Adventure tour operators offer trips to this phenomenal area, where you can see bears, whales, eagles, seals and more. The Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary is one of the best places to see bears in their natural habitat, containing one of the largest populations of grizzlies in BC.

5. Kwinitsa Station Railway Museum

The other place we were hoping to see was the Kwinitsa Station Railway Museum. This waterside museum is the perfect stop if you’re interested in railway history. The museum is housed in a restored station, which was moved from its original site to downtown Prince Rupert. Built in 1911, the Kwinitsa Station was relocated on Canada Day in 1985 to the location where it now stands – at the site of the old CN dock. The museum houses terrific displays with artifacts, pictures, and stories, brilliantly exhibiting what life was like along Canada’s northern railway route. The interesting exhibits give great insight into the complexity of railway operations in the past, and depict the early development of the city of Prince Rupert, from inception to the thriving port city it is today.

Do you have a favourite Prince Rupert attraction that we missed? Share in the comments below.