UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Prince Rupert, B.C., the study of a port and its hinterland Crerar, Alistair Donald


Prince Rupert is situated on Kaien Island, where sufficient level land is found to allow the construction of a city. Rugged micro-topography makes building difficult and has affected the pattern of land use. Topography also imposes controls upon the amount of land suitable for agriculture in Prince Rupert's hinterland. Prince Rupert's climate though mild is wet and unpleasant, discouraging settlement unless some enticement is offered in terms of higher wages, larger profits or favourable employment. The Bulkley Valley, the largest single area topographically suitable for agriculture within the mainland section of Prince Rupert's hinterland is marginal climatically for agricultural production. The soils of Prince Rupert's interior hinterland do not seem likely to support more than 2000 farms. Graham Island seems to offer the best possibilities for large-scale agricultural settlement in the future. The Prince Rupert Forest District has a total of 23,583 million fbm of timber on productive areas of which 19,780 million fbm is found within the coastal section. The estimated sustained annual yield on the coast is 280 million fbm of which 195 million fbm is being cut at present to be processed largely in Vancouver mills. It is suggested that the establishment of sawmills near Prince Rupert would probably be successful. The fishing industry, especially the halibut fishery, has provided the mainstay for Prince Rupert's economy since the city's inception. The major fisheries are extremely well developed and an increase in their importance seems unlikely. Of the 1,954,430 h.p. of hydro power available within 160 miles of Prince Rupert only 2.5% is developed, due in large part to the lack of development of the other resources of the district. The Aluminum Company of Canada's Kitimat project will mark the first large scale use of this resource. Prince Rupert was founded to serve as the Pacific coast terminal of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. It was planned from its inception. The street plan was laid out so that the greatest advantage could be taken of favourable topographic features. The plan was unsuccessful because the city never grew sufficiently to fit the scale of the plan. From 1909 to 1925 construction of various pieces of large-scale port equipment went on. These were to provide for the trade with the Orient which Prince Rupert was expected to capture since it was 500 miles closer to the Orient than any other North American port. The trade never materialized because of the poverty of the Orient, the lack of settlement along the line of the G.T.P.R. and the nature of the resources tapped by the railway. Over expansion of the city and the cost of construction on difficult terrain forced the city into bankruptcy in 1933. This represented a disastrous readjustment of the city to the realities of its environment. The outlook at present is much brighter. The resources of Prince Rupert's hinterland are in much greater demand and their utilization is beginning. The development of the resources will give a firm base to the city's growth and the cycle of "boom and bust" is unlikely to occur again.

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