Charles Melville Hays , 1856 - 1912
Named for Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Prince Rupert was founded by Charles Melville Hays who was the General Manager of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway whose western terminus was at Prince Rupert. Charles Hays 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 Charles Hays perished on April 15, 1912 on the RMS Titanic. Today it is the hub of land, air and water transportation for the BC north coast.It the wettest city in Canada with an annual average rainfall of 2,500 mm (100 in.)and is also known as the City of Rainbows. Like many communities of the Pacific Northwest coast, fishing (canneries) and logging were the economic drivers for this once thriving community. Today tourism and the anticipation of a new deep water port are what keep Prince Rupert hanging on. I don't travel to Prince Rupert often(I can't handle the ferry ride!) but when I need to escape for a few days I will come and visit this quaint waterfront community. The recent construction of a cruise ship dock has initiated the revival of the downtown core of Prince Rupert. This area, a railway right of way is known as Cow Bay, so named after a Swiss farmer, John Nehring who unloaded his dairy cows from a barge in this spot in 1908. The name stuck and has taken on a life of its own, like the name of this cafe...Cowpaccinos! When I first came to Haida Gwaii twelve years ago this harbour was filled with commercial fishing boats, now it is mainly recreational and sport fishing boats. I stayed at the Eagle Bluff B&B (in the photo below) on the harbourside. When I checked in my room I went out on my deck and was hit with the smell of steamed prawns being prepared on a fishing boat below my window. The fisherman invited me down to have a "cone" of prawns....I hadn't been on the west coast more than two hours! I have never forgotten that introduction to this quaint and friendly town.
One of the other wonderful things about Prince Rupert is its flowers. When I first came I walked the streets of Prince Rupert exploring and one of the things that struck me was all the flowers, especially nasturtiums. Prince Rupert is built on a rock island, little or no flat land and often a grey and dizzily place. The town council decided to cheer the place up so each spring in residents tax assessments a package of nasturtium seeds was included with the instructions to scatter them in rocky areas. The result are hanging walls of nasturtiums and colour. I'm not sure the tradition continues but planting bright flowers everywhere does. Like all fishing communities from time immemorial tribute to the hard working souls who challenge the forces of nature on the sea is an important part of Prince Rupert.All along the seawalk are these memorial plaques as a reminder to the many men and women who have lost their lives at sea plus the unusual memorial below.
One of the fascinating exhibits of the museum and Tsimshian is the Legend of the "Man who fell from the heaven" The above photo is a life size cast taken from the original at Robeson Point. The Tsimshian legend goes as follows:
He was not only allowed to return to the village but was given a position of honour as shaman." from "The Man Who Fell From Heaven" by Phyllis Bowman
There is no beach in Prince Rupert but they have created a beautiful seawalk incorporating the old and the new.
Built in 1911, Kwinitsa Station was one of 400 identical rail stations along the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway from Winnipeg to Prince Rupert. Today, this fascinating structure is one of only four surviving stations, and serves as the Kwinitsa Station Railway Museum, telling the story of early Prince Rupert and the role of the railway in its development. It has a remarkable collection of Canadiana railway history. Not far from where I was staying at the Pioneer Hostel was this beautiful Sunken Garden, unfortunately when I found it, it was getting dark so most of my pictures did not turn out.
Click the links in this post for more information on this area.