Terrace-Kitimat

Destination Location

Terrace-Kitimat, BC

Overview

Named for the flat mountain tops in the surrounding area, Terrace's distinct geography shelters the community from the elements, but its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and major transportation lines make it an important crossroads for the area. Nature lovers and backcountry enthusiasts alike will find a trip to Terrace time well spent.

The area's natural beauty is well known to the Tsimshian people, who have thrived in the region for thousands of years. The impressive landscape enticed travellers from Eastern Canada to leave the Yukon Gold Rush, visit, and eventually incorporate a settlement in the early 1900s.

Terrace lies in a basin in the Skeena River Valley surrounded by the Coast Mountains, sitting at the naturally occurring intersection of several pathways. The pathways now serve as major transportation routes to neighbouring Prince Rupert, Smithers and Kitimat, making it easy for visitors to access Terrace.

Once there, guests will find no shortage of summer outdoor activities including mountain biking, camping, rock climbing, boating and sport fishing. Winter guests will find the snow levels ideal for skiing (cross-country, downhill and heli-skiing), snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

Accommodations in Terrace range from hotels to secluded lodges and cabins. Several campgrounds are also available around Terrace and in the many nearby provincial parks. The woodland parks – known specifically for towering lodgepole pines and the elusive "spirit bears" (native black bears with a white coat) – serve as great spots for hiking and animal watching.

Terrace proper also contains several draws of its own within the city limits. The community is home to a rich heritage of First Nations art, exhibited by the iconic carved totems. Artisan's wares are available for sale in local shops and the Farmer's Market, which also provides fresh seasonal food from the fertile Skeena Valley. Local musicians frequent coffee shops and two theatres offer dramatic productions. This is all summed up in the annual Riverboat Days festival in early August. The festival is kicked off by a parade and follows up with over 50 events including fireworks, sporting tournaments, contests and concerts.

Airport served by: Terrace, BC (YXT)

Destination basics

Terrace's unique geography helps give it a climate that is milder than other cities in Northern British Columbia. The First Nations' name for the area, Ganeeks Laxha, means "stairway to heaven" and comes from the tiered mountain steppes and mist-covered Skeena River.

Being close to the Pacific coast gives the area a moderate winter compared to other northern-inland communities and less rain than areas on the lower mainland like Vancouver. Summers are fairly brief but warm. Winters can be chilly but skiers will be happy with the snowfall levels.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Terrace-Kitimat
Occupying the northwest corner of British Columbia, the cities of Terrace and Kitimat lie surrounded by pristine wilderness and soaring mountains along the Skeena River Valley.

Terrace City Center
The attractions, restaurants, and shops in Terrace proper are centered around the Terrace City Hall and its surrounds. Besides a few local churches, the streets of city center are populated by a few food chain restaurants, supermarkets, and independently owned eateries. Within downtown limits, one will also find the city’s cultural landmarks - the REM Lee Theatre, the Tillicum Twin Theatres, and the George Little House, a quaint two-storied heritage home. A stone’s throw away, two of the city’s galleries - the Terrace Art Gallery, and the Red Raven Art Gallery - display a stunning array of local artworks. Further north, along Sparks Street, the Heritage Park Museum is the city’s defining feature. A museum complex built on a former dairy farm, the Heritage Park Museum chronicles the history of the city’s evolution, its various industries, and its storied past.

Kitsumkalum and Kitselas
Inhabited by the tribes of the Tsimshian Nation over several millennia, the city of Terrace is one of the oldest areas in the province that saw continuous settlement. Today, the Kitselas and the Kitsumkalum form two crucial communities in the city of Terrace.

Located to the west of the city center, Kitsumkalum lies close to where the Yellowhead Highway passes through Terrace, near the Skeena River. Surrounded by a dense thicket of trees and a furiously thinning concrete landscape, this community is characterized by traditional log and wood houses. The House of Sim-Oi-Ghets, or the ‘House of the Chiefs’, is its main draw, a time-honored longhouse that operates as a gift shop selling aboriginal art and craft. When you visit, be sure to pay attention to the facade’s peculiar West Coast design, portraying the four primary crests of the Kitsumkalum community: the eagle, the killer whale, the raven, and the wolf.

The Kitselas translates into ‘People of the Canyon’, indicative of this community’s dramatic and enchanting topography, replete with craggy coastlines. A part of this ancient canyon is the Kitselas Canyon Historic Site, a tranquil yet mystical setting of natural beauty, interspersed with remnants of a 5000-year-old history, such as totem poles, longhouse displays, petroglyphs, and interpretive pathways. A little further to the north lies the Kleanza Creek Provincial Park, surrounded by the mesmerizing beauty of the Coast Mountains. Kitselas is located to the east of Terrace, a short twenty minute drive away.

Kitimat City Center
The heart of Kitimat is characterized by a mix of community churches, parks, shops, and restaurants. The City Centre Mall is one of its most prominent landmarks, and is surrounded by regional chain restaurants and shops. Other landmarks here include the Kitimat Museum & Archives which depicts the town’s conception, its geological features, and the influence of the Haisla First Nations tribe, and the Mount Elizabeth Theatre, a small community theater nestled within the eponymous school.

One of the Kitimat's main thoroughfares, the Haisla Boulevard, is dotted with vibrant parks and gardens, some of which look over the glittering waters of the Douglas Channel. The Coughlin and Kemano Parks double up as lookout areas that offer views of the Minette Bay and the surrounding city, while the formidable Coast Mountains form a magnificent backdrop. Located off Haisla, along Dyke Boulevard, Radley Park is among the more popular attractions found here. The park’s most defining feature is the Giant Spruce tree, which is both the oldest, and the tallest tree in the Kitimat Valley region.

Surrounding Areas
Further east, past the Rio Tinto Alcan industry park, the sandy stretch of the famous Hospital Beach is an ideal outdoor haven, replete with barbecue pits and picnic spots. Toward the extreme eastern tip of Kitimat, the Jesse Falls cascade down to meet the swirling waters of Jesse Lake. It is part of the Jesse Falls Protected Area, a rugged expanse of land teeming with spruce and fir trees, and native wildlife.

While not officially a part of the Kitimat proper, the Kitimat Village harbors the Haisla tribe of the First Nations and is located nearly 11 kilometers (6.83 miles) to the south of Kitimat's center.  
While on one hand Terrace and Kitimat harbor stories of an aboriginal past, giving way to commemorative museums and historical sites, on the other hand, they entice the intrepid adventurer with seemingly endless outdoor pursuits. For regions that are dominated purely by its remarkable wilderness, Terrace and Kitimat do offer cultural entertainment as well, evident from their community theaters and local art galleries. Packed with history, culture, and the allure of the outdoors, Terrace-Kitimat manage to draw up an engaging entertainment offer for the offbeat traveler.

Outdoors
Surrounded by the lofty peaks of the Coast Mountains as far as the eye can see, the regions of Terrace and Kitimat offer limitless outdoor opportunities for enthusiasts of any stripe. The two regions offer round-the-year activities that center around its naturally endowed wilderness, from hiking and mountain biking, to golfing, kayaking, fishing, and skiing.

The city of Terrace is blessed with beautiful walking trails that wind their way up surrounding mountains. Characterized by conspicuous trailheads and mostly well-marked directions along the way, the hikes are fairly easy depending on difficulty and familiarity with hiking; although hikers may need to watch out for bears along the way. Inexperienced hikers or those traveling with families can hike around the loop that encircles Ferry Island. Take in the glistening beauty of the Skeena River as you walk along this trail, and keep your eyes peeled for carved designs on trees, the result of a local artist’s work. Those with more experience can take the slightly more arduous Terrace Mountain trail, leading up to a lookout that rewards you with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, lakes, and the charming towns beneath. Further away from the city, the Black Sister Cedarvale Trail can be traversed in three hours. In Kitimat, some fairly easy trails wind through a route along the eponymous river, while some others are unmarked, more perilous trails that are perfect for experienced backcountry hikers. Some of the trails in Kitimat include the Hirsch Creek Trail, and the Coho Flats Trail that cuts through the thick of the forest and leads to the river. More information about trails and comprehensive maps can be acquired from the respective visitor centers of Terrace and Kitimat.

Terrace and Kitimat also attract visitors keen on fishing, and rightly so. With its close proximity to several water bodies, both Terrace and Kitimat are prime locations for fishing. While Terrace is blessed with salmon-laden waters and is great for angling steelhead, coho, chum, and pinks, Kitimat offers plenty of possibilities for both fresh and saltwater fishing. Several fishing charters in Kitimat provide guided fishing trips along the Douglas Channel.

Water babies will also delight at the extent of water activities that are possible in Terrace-Kitimat. Its many beaches and lakes, encircled with pristine scenery, provide memorable canoeing, stand-up paddling, and kaycitiesaking experiences. The Lakelse Lake Wetlands Provincial Park in Kitimat is especially breathtaking, where the lake is guarded by tall trees of cedar, hemlock, and Sitka spruce, even as the surrounding mountains keep watch. The park provides plenty of overnighting opportunities as well, with properly allocated campsites.

Come winter, the region’s climate brings freezing winters that leave behind superb quality, champagne powder snow. It is no wonder then, that Terrace-Kitimat invites ardent backcountry skiers who take to the slopes when the season commences. Terrace features several skiing and snowshoeing experiences, from the Shames Mountain ski hill, to an impressive network of nearly 30 kilometers (19 miles) of cross-country trails. Kitimat is no different, and provides access to the Onion Lake Ski Trail, which is great for both amateur and experienced skiers. Closer home, the Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club features an easier trail for recreational skiing. Several heli-skiing opportunities are also accessible from both Terrace and Kitimat.

Museums & Galleries
Museums depicting local life, culture, and history are part of the landscape of both Terrace and Kitimat. Gems such as the Heritage Park Museum and the George Little House in Terrace display peculiar exhibits of early settlements and traditionally built log structures. Meanwhile, the Kitimat Museum & Archives renders a captivating account of the city’s conception, the Haisla tribe, and features several natural history exhibits as well. Terrace is also home to two art galleries - the Terrace Art Gallery and the Red Raven Art Gallery. Both galleries work on a collaborative principle with homegrown artists to source an eclectic collection of local artworks.

Performing Arts
Both Terrace and Kitimat foster a fledgling arts scene, with community theaters that put on small-scale shows, and local venues with musical programs and concerts. Catch the Terrace Little Theater’s productions at their venue on Kalum Street, or stop by the REM Theater for monthly performances by the Terrace Concert Society. If you want to keep it casual, then head to the city’s bars that showcase live gigs during the week. The Back Eddy Pub and the Elephant’s Ear Coffee Shop in Terrace are among the select few that stage live music performances. In Kitimat, the 512-seat Mount Elizabeth Theatre is an all-purpose venue that hosts a wide range of performances, from community theater productions and dances, to concerts, recitals and conventions.
Terrace-Kitimat’s dining scene is far from evolved, although it is definitely varied. Having said that, the variety is more prominent in Terrace as compared to Kitimat, where regional and international food chains are commonplace and outnumber independently owned cafes and eateries. In both cities however, city center remains the mainstay for dining.

Terrace City Center
Choose from Terrace’s wide net of cuisines, whether it is Don Diego’s delicious Mexican staples, the Asian fusion genius of the Blue Fin Sushi Bar, or the chef-driven Indian menu at Hot House. Further toward the east, along Lakelse Avenue, the Sonbadas Steak House serves up remarkable Greek dishes. For light meals and quick bites, take your pick from the several cafes that dot the streets of Terrace’s city center. Cafenara and Xander’s are both good options for coffee and meals on-the-go. The Elephant Ear Coffee Shop and Bistro features a more colorful character compared to its no-frills counterparts, with made-from-scratch dishes that go with aromatic BC-roasted coffee. The cafe also consistently hosts live music and open mic nights, although it also has long windows that look out upon Terrace’s quaint street, for when you’re craving for some peace and quiet. If you’re traveling with family, then the spacious restaurant at the Bear Country Inn serves a varied all-day menu.

Surrounding Areas
Get a load of fresh local flavors at Kathleen’s Grill, located in South Terrace. This retro diner on Tetrault Street inhabits a homespun vibe, and serves homestyle breakfasts and lunches. For value-for-money Chinese meals, Polly’s Cafe on Keith Avenue is a great option. The staff is friendly and the restaurant serves superb dimsums. In the Kitsumkalum neighborhood, the Mumfords Beerhouse and Grill, and the fiery Indian cuisine restaurant Haryana’s are its two centerpieces.

If you love markets, then several homemade goodies and snacks await you at the Skeena Valley Farmers' Market. This decades-old market is open every Saturday from 9a to 1p, and has all the delightful trappings of a sweet small town bazaar.

Kitimat
Like Terrace, Kitimat’s busy city center is where most of its eateries are. The area encircling the City Centre Mall is dotted with a mix of fast food chains, cafes, pubs, and a couple of mom-and-pop eateries. From Subway and Mr Mikes, to A&W and Dairy Cream, Kitimat has good options for those who like to stick to culinary basics. If you plan to go local, then devour Canadian treats at Pedro Grill’s buffet, or sample homestyle cooking at the Chalet Restaurant.

Further away from the city center, small independent restaurants such as Rosario’s and the Chop Suey Kitchen offer decent, reasonably priced meals.
Terrace-Kitimat

Province: British Columbia

Country: Canada

Terrace-Kitimat by the Numbers
Terrace Population: 11,486 (City); 15,569 (Metropolitan)
Kitimat Population: 8,335
Terrace Elevation: 67 meters / 219 feet
Kitimat Elevation: 40 meters / 130 feet
Terrace Average Annual Precipitation: 116 centimeters / 45.66 inches
Kitimat Average Annual Precipitation: 273 centimeters / 107.48 inches
Terrace Average Annual Snowfall: 204 centimeters / 80.31 inches
Kitimat Average Annual Snowfall: 335 centimeters / 131.88 inches
Terrace Average January Temperature: −3.5°C / 25.7°F
Kitimat Average January Temperature: −2.2°C / 28.4°F
Terrace Average July Temperature: 16.6°C / 61.8°F
Kitimat Average July Temperature: 17°C / 62.6°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 120 volts, 60Hz, AC

Time Zone: GMT-8 (GMT-7 Daylight Saving Time); Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 250; 778; 236

Did You Know?
The official symbol of Terrace, BC, is the Kermode Bear, also identified as the ‘spirit bear’, which lives along British Columbia’s North Coast region.

Rio Tinto Alcan, which built the aluminum smelter in Kitimat at the behest of British Columbia’s Provincial Government in the 1950s, still remains the municipality's major employer.

Orientation
Terrace and Kitimat are located in the North Coast region of British Columbia. Both are largely enveloped by the Coast Mountains. While Terrace, BC, lies 144 kilometers (89.2 miles) to the east of Prince Rupert, BC, Kitimat is located 61.6 kilometers (38.3 miles) to the south of Terrace, BC. Kitimat is also located 205 kilometers (127 miles) southeast of Prince Rupert, BC.
Terrace boasts of an origin that can be traced back to tens of thousands of years ago, when the Tsimshian First Nations people first inhabited the area currently known as Terrace. The tribes occupied major areas around the Skeena River, and were dependent on the water body for fishing, hunting, and trading activities. This makes Terrace one of the oldest consistently lived-in settlements, forging an indelible connection between the city and its tribal ancestors. Even today, the city of Terrace comprises of the communities of Kitsumkalum and Kitselas, named after two clans of the Tsimshian First Nations.

Much later in the early 19th Century, European fur traders made their way through the Skeena River with riverboats, in the wake of the Klondike Gold Rush. One of the first Europeans who arrived in current-day Terrace was George Little, who decided to settle in a little homestead he built in 1905. Mr. Little thus came to be known as the city’s founder, and the homestead would gain heritage status in the years to come, notifying people about George Little’s impactful decision to stay. As the plans of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway gained traction, George Little donated some of his land to the railway company, besides also building a sawmill to fulfill the burgeoning material needs of the railway. After the railway’s construction, the area soon became a booming transportation and commercial hub, finally blossoming into a town in 1912.

Unlike Terrace, Kitimat’s conception was the result of a meticulously planned project by the Provincial Government of British Columbia. Kitimat went from being a small fishing village inhabited by the Haisla First Nations along the Douglas Channel, to a booming industrial hub that centered around an aluminium smelter. British Columbia called Alcan, an aluminium manufacturer on board to work on a hydroelectric project and establish an aluminium smelter in present-day Kitimat. The company collaborated with American urban planning genius Clarence Stein to help build a more cohesive town that would motivate employees to stay long-term, rather than a city that was exclusively centered around its industry. The plan was pulled off successfully, and Kitimat came into being somewhere around the 1950s.

Although Rio Tinto Alcan remains the municipality's major employers even today and a large part of it is influenced by this well-planned coup, a part of Kitimat that was inhabited by the Haisla First Nations continues to allude to its early settlement history in Kitimat Village’s historic site.

Points of interest in Terrace-Kitimat

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