Prince Rupert Port lies on Kaien Island in western British Columbia’s Chatham Sound. Near the mouth of Canada’s Skeena River, it is 1500 kilometers northwest of Vancouver. Prince Rupert Port is an ice-free harbor that serves the lumber and mining industries as well as the surrounding agricultural area. Prince Rupert Port was a supply base and marshaling point for Allied forces during World War II. In 2006, almost 13 thousand people called Prince Rupert Port home.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the area was inhabited by the indigenous Tsimshian peoples for four to five thousand years before Europeans arrived there. Prince Rupert Port was named for the Hudson Bay Company’s first governor, Prince Rupert of the Rhine. Born as a tent city in 1906, it was founded in 1910 by the general manager of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway that came to town in 1914.
Resident Charles Hays once held great ambitions for Prince Rupert Port, but his plans died when he went down with the RMS Titanic in 1912. Promised a highway connection to the mainland by local politicians, the town grew slowly over the years. During World War II, American troops completed the highway, leaving support for the city’s major industries (fishing and forestry).
In the 1950s, a pulp mill opened, followed closely by coal and grain shipping terminals in Prince Rupert Port. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the city added a civic center, public library, performing arts center, swimming pool, and golf course as it became a city.
Economic hardship fell on the fishing and forest industries in the 1990s when disputes arose over fishing rights with Alaska and over lumber with the U.S. The subsequent closing of the pulp mill left many citizens out of work and the machinery unused. Reaching a peak of 18 thousand in the 1990s, Prince Rupert Port’s population began to decline.
Until 2004, Prince Rupert Port suffered hard times. But in 2004, a new cruise ship dock was opened, and a container port was announced in 2005. New owners took over the pulp mill, and shipping of coal and grain resumed.