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P RTS OF CALL

Prince Rupert, British Columbia Words and Photos: Norris Comer Prince Rupert, British Columbia, is an important dot on the chart for boaters. Sitting on the northern shore of Kaien Island, the town’s roles as a crossroads and terminus are core to its identity. It’s the western terminus of the Yellowhead Highway (Trans-Canada Highway 16), and by sea, Prince Rupert hosts both major container ship and passenger ferry terminals. The airport is an essential link to the greater world, a useful asset for boaters and landlubbers alike. If you’re on a boat, passing Prince Rupert means you’re fresh from the glacier studded waters of Alaska and going south or leaving a long cruise through British Columbia behind as you head north. The town is a great place to duck in if the weather fouls in the exposed Dixon Entrance. Culturally, Prince Rupert is an expression of a unique demographic mix for a town of 12,000 people. Canadian 2016 Census data reports about 12.4 percent of the population is of primarily Asian minority groups: Filipino, South Asian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian. First Nations peoples make up about 38.9 percent of the population, while Caucasians make up 48.7 percent of the population. As a result, a rich blend of heritages, art, and food can be found, especially for a town of this size. Sushi restaurants using locally caught seafood are found next to galleries of First Nations artwork, and the flags of Nordic countries fly high in homage to immigrants who helped found the town. The visitor-oriented downtown is flanked by seafood processing plants and warehouses, the commercial vessels outnumbering the recreational boats. While the town’s economy experienced ups and downs, certain developments trend positively. A major pulp mill reopened in 2005 (the same year as the container ship port construction) and the addition of a cruise ship terminal in 2004 were big steps toward

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establishing tourism and industry economies. What’s next? Who knows, but hopefully the hardworking locals can catch a break. By boat, you can enter Cow Bay from the south between Digby Island and Kaien Island, or from the west between Digby Island and the

town of Metlakatla. The southern entrance is large and mostly obstacle free, but mind the commercial and ferry vessels passing through. The western entrance is more complex with islands and shoals to navigate, so don’t get coy with the channel markers.

Waterfront Wanderings Cow Bay Marina is right in the middle of it all, with a hub of small businesses and the Prince Rupert Visitor Information Centre right at the entrance. The Ice House Gallery is an artist cooperative with the work of North Coast creators and a great place to pick up mementos. The Information Centre and neighboring Port Interpretive Centre are also good stops to get your bearings. Boat watching, especially in the busy summer months, is premium with day-fishing charters, historic wooden vessels, visiting yachts, and more. This waterfront is also strategically located within walking distance to the local sights both north and south.

Greenspace Aplenty There’s plenty of greenspace in Prince Rupert to explore in all directions from the waterfront. South along the water, one finds Rotary Waterfront Park, made iconic because of the old abandoned railroad station on the premises. There’s a small Kwinitsa Railway Museum for the curious. Northward you pass a mile or so of industrial buildings along George Hills Way and a few cow-themed garbage cans before reaching Rushbrook Harbour and Bob’s On the Rocks eatery before the Rushbrook Trail. If you’re a golf fan, the Prince Rupert Golf Club isn’t far from the water and is open to the public. You can learn more about them at princerupertgolf.com.

Seafaring Heritage Pacific Mariners Memorial Park is prominent next to the Museum of Northern British Columbia and a great place to catch a view or rally for a picnic. Memorials to fishermen, Nordic immigrants, and the Kazu Maru Memorial pay homage to the sea. Another recommended sight is the North Pacific Cannery, located several miles south of downtown. The cannery is now a major museum with guided tours, exhibits, and regular events. It stands much as it did during its days of operation from 1888 to the late 1970s, making it the longest running cannery in B.C. history. There are many ways to get down there, including a bus ride that costs $2.75 CAD each way. Check out northpacificcannery.ca for more information.

Profile for Northwest Yachting

Northwest Yachting December 2018  

The latest on power and sail boating in the Northwest, featuring our annual Chartering Guide - expanded to include more British Columbia Cha...

Northwest Yachting December 2018  

The latest on power and sail boating in the Northwest, featuring our annual Chartering Guide - expanded to include more British Columbia Cha...