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North America > Canada > British Columbia > North and Central Coast > Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert

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Aerial View of Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert is a small port city on the northwest coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Understand[edit]

The population of 13,000 people is about half First Nations (native Canadian) people. The Tsimshian Nation is the indigenous First Nations in the Prince Rupert area.

History[edit]

Prince Rupert was named for Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the first Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, as the result of an open competition held by the Grand Trunk Railway, the prize for which was $250. Prior to the opening of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTP), which developed a terminus at Prince Rupert, the business centre on the North Coast was Port Essington on the Skeena River. After the founding of Prince Rupert at the western terminus of the GTP, Port Essington was bypassed by many businesses and declined to being a fishing community.

Charles Melville Hays, president of the Grand Trunk Railway, had many grand ideas for Prince Rupert, including berthing facilities for large passenger ships and the development of a major tourism industry. These plans fell through when Hays died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912. Mount Hays, the larger of two mountains on Kaien Island, is named in his honour, as is a local high school, Charles Hays Secondary School.

Local politicians used the promise of a highway connected to the mainland as an incentive, and the city grew over the next several decades. American troops completed the 100-mile (160-km) stretch of road between Prince Rupert and Terrace during World War II to facilitate the movement of thousands of Allied troops to the Aleutian Islands and the Pacific. Several forts were built to protect the city at Barrett Point and Fredrick Point.

After World War II, the fishing industry, particularly for salmon and halibut, and forestry became the city's major industries.

In the 1990s, both the fishing and forestry industries suffered a significant downturn in economic activity. The forest industry declined when a softwood lumber dispute arose between Canada and the USA. After the pulp mill closed down, many people were unemployed, and much modern machinery was left unused. After reaching a peak of about 18,000 in the early 1990s, Prince Rupert's population began to decline, as people left in search of work.

1996 to 2004 was difficult for Prince Rupert, with closure of the pulp mill, the burning down of a fish plant and a significant population decline. 2005 was a critical turning point: the announcement of the construction of a container port in April 2005, combined with new ownership of the pulp mill, the opening in 2004 of a new cruise ship dock, the resurgence of coal and grain shipping, and the prospects of increased heavy industry and tourism may foretell a bright future for the area.

Weather[edit]

Prince Rupert holds the title of rainiest city in Canada, with about 2500 mm of precipitation annually. That's even more than the notoriously rainy Vancouver, so bring good rain gear!

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Digby Island Ferry
  • 1 Prince Rupert Airport (YPR IATA – WMO: 71022), Digby Island (board shuttle at Highlander Plaza Hotel (815 - 1st Avenue West) and take bus and ferry), +1 250 624-6274, e-mail: . Su-F 8AM - 7:55PM, Sa 10:30AM - 3PM. Prince Rupert has domestic service by small turboprop airliner. Flights take two hours each way, but because of the additional time required to reach Digby Island (just west of Kaien Island and downtown Prince Rupert) by airport bus and ferry, it takes about four hours to travel between downtown Prince Rupert and Vancouver International Airport. Prince Rupert Airport on Wikipedia Prince Rupert Airport (Q93902) on Wikidata

By car[edit]

View on Highway 16 on the way to Prince Rupert

By vehicle take Highway 16 west from Prince George. The drive takes roughly eight hours. It is not advisable to drive this road in winter months unless you are familiar with treacherous winter highway conditions.

By boat[edit]

See also: Alaska Marine Highway

Vehicle ferries connect to various destinations:

  • BC Ferries to Skidegate in Haida Gwaii. Single sailings 4-6 days/week in summer; fewer in other seasons. Voyage takes 7-9 hours. Departure times differ; some voyages are overnight. $35/adult, $125/vehicle.
  • BC Ferries to Port Hardy (on Vancouver Island). Sailings arrive every other day, and depart the following day, during the summer. Fewer sailings in other seasons. Journey takes 15 hours: day cruise of 7:30AM - 10:30PM during spring and summer, overnight other times. Some sailings stop in Bella Bella. $150/adult, $350/vehicle.
  • Alaska Marine Highway System to Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau, all in Alaska. Sailings roughly every other day. About 5 hours to Ketchikan. US $54/adult, US $61/vehicle.
Cruise ship at the old Atlin Terminal

Prince Rupert is a port-of-call for cruise ships plying the inland passage, serving over 50,000 visitors each season. The Northland Terminal is in Cow Bay, close (up a short hill) to the downtown core. Many shore excursions can be accessed at the Atlin terminal (just east of Northland), ranging from bus, boat and seaplane sight seeing tours to saltwater fishing, kayaking and native cultural experiences.

By bus[edit]

  • 2 Greyhound Canada, 815 - 1st Avenue West, +1 250 624-5090. Greyhound Canada permanently terminated its bus service to Prince Rupert on June 1, 2018.

By train[edit]

  • 3 Via Rail, Prince Rupert Station, 2000 Park Ave, toll-free: +1-888-842-7245. Ticket counter M Th Sa 5:30PM - 9:15PM, W F Su 6:30AM-10:15AM. Via Rail Canada offers a route from Jasper to Prince Rupert,[1] with an overnight layover in Prince George. Departures are W F Su 8AM, and arrivals M Th Sa 8:25PM. As of February 2018, the ticket counter is not staffed; buy your ticket aboard the train (credit card or cash only) or online.

Get around[edit]

Map of Prince Rupert

Most of downtown Prince Rupert is accessible on foot. A good place to get oriented is the Visitor Information Centre, located on the east end of the Atlin Terminal.

BC Transit has seven bus routes serving all sections of the city ($3 cash fare, June 2018). A taxi ride anywhere in town will be no more than $10.

See[edit]

Totem pole in front of the First Nations Carving Shed
One of the totem poles and view from Totem Park
  • First Nations Carving Shed, +1-800-667-1994. A block from the Museum of Northern British Columbia, it features artists and carvers of the region, creating everything from sculpture and totems to jewelry, working with silver, copper, cedarwood and gold.
  • Kwinitsa Station Railway Museum, on the west side of the waterfront, tells the story of early Prince Rupert and the role of the railway in its development. Built in 1911, Kwinitsa Station was one of 400 identical rail stations along the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway from Winnipeg to Prince Rupert. Today, it is one of only four surviving stations.
  • Pacific Mariners Memorial Park, between the foot of McBride St and the Northland Terminal. Note the two focal points of the park: one being the bronze Mariner's statue and Memorial Walls, the other the Shinto Shrine which was built for the "Kazu Maru", a Japanese fishing dingy that drifted across the Pacific Ocean from Prince Rupert's sister-city Owase in Japan.
  • 1 Museum of Northern British Columbia, 100 - 1st Avenue West (on the waterfront at the foot of McBride Avenue), +1 250 624-3207, fax: +1 250 627-8009, e-mail: . Jun-Aug: M-Sa 9AM-8PM, Su 9AM-5PM; Sep-May: M-Sa 9AM-5PM. The museum tells the 10,000-year-old history of the Haida, Tsimishian, Tlingit, and Nisga. It also operates the Carving Shed and the Kwinitsa Station. Adult $6, teens 13-19 $3, children 6-12 $2, children under 5 $1.
  • 2 North Pacific Cannery, 1889 Skeena Drive, Port Edward (from Prince Rupert, turn right after the bridge onto highway 599, which becomes Skeena Drive (about 20 km from downtown Prince Rupert total)), +1 250 628-3538 (May-Sep), +1 250 628-3667 (Oct-Apr), fax: +1 250 628-3540, e-mail: . May Jun & Sep: Tu-Su 9:30AM-5PM; Jul & Aug: daily 9:30AM-5PM. Open until 8PM when a cruise ship is visiting. A national historic site, it is the oldest, most completely preserved cannery remaining of two hundred-or-so that once dotted BC's Northwest Coast. BC Transit runs the number 60 bus in the summer to the cannery from the Visitor Information Centre in Atlin Terminal in Cow Bay, which takes about 40 minutes. Adult $12, Children 5-18 $6, Children under 5 Free, Family (2 adults + children) $25, Tour Groups $10.
  • 3 Totem Park (Summit Avenue, on the ocean side of the loop just past the main Hospital entrance). Home to many of Prince Rupert's totem poles. Free.

Do[edit]

Prince Rupert is famous for its fishing expeditions. Mostly salmon and halibut, with potential catches over a hundred pounds.

  • Early Dawn Fishing Charters, +1 250 261-2688. Early Dawn Salmon Fishing Charters offers fishing charters in the exceptionally rich fishing waters off of Prince Rupert.

Buy[edit]

  • Cow Bay Gift Gallery, 24 Cow Bay Rd, +1 250 627-1808. Options here are a little pricier, but has authentic Native art and some really beautiful items.
  • 1 Homework, 145 Cow Bay Rd, +1 250 624-3663, fax: +1 250 624-3553, e-mail: . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Eclectic and interesting selection.

Eat[edit]

  • Cow Bay Cafe, 205 Cow Bay Rd, +1 250 627-1212, e-mail: . One of the most popular places to eat in town. It is a small place right on the water. The service is average.
  • Herby's Family Restaurant, 679 - 2nd Avenue West, +1 250 624-3965. Excellent and inexpensive Vietnamese food in an informal atmosphere.
  • Opa Sushi, 34 Cow Bay Rd, +1 250 627-4560. M-F 11:30AM-2PM & 5PM-9PM, Sa 12PM-3PM & 5PM-9PM, Su 1PM-8PM. Not bad sushi.
  • 1 Pho '88 (Phở '88), 427 - 3rd Avenue West, +1 250 624-2888. M-Sa 10AM-9PM Su 11AM-8PM. Newer Vietnamese restaurant, featuring pho, but having a good variety of Vietnamese and Canadian-Asian cuisine. $10-25.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

Connect[edit]

  • Prince Rupert Public Library, 101 - 6th Avenue West, +1 250 627-1345, fax: +1 250 627-7851, e-mail: . M 1PM-5PM, Tu-Th 10AM-9PM, F 10AM-5PM, Sa-Su 1PM-5PM (closed Sundays in the summer). The library has eight computers for public use, no membership needed and free wireless. Careful after school; they get quite busy right after the bell. $1 for each ½ hour after the first, subject to availability.
  • Safeway/Starbucks, 200 - 2nd Avenue West, +1 250 624-2412. Daily 7AM-10PM. There is a small seating area inside and out where you can sit on the wireless. Free.

Go next[edit]

Visit the Haida Gwaii for a unique wilderness adventure you will never forget.

Routes through Prince Rupert
END  W VIA Rail Jasper Prince Rupert icon.png E  TerraceJasper
MassetSkidegate(ferry)  W TCH-16 (BC).svg E  TerracePrince George


This city travel guide to Prince Rupert is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.