Settlement in the area began around 1904 in a townsite known as Aldermere on the hill above Telkwa. Around 1907, people began to move down the hill to be closer to water supplies and the anticipated route of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The name Telkwa is possibly a native term for "meeting of the waters" which appropriately describes the confluence of the Bulkley and Telkwa Rivers in town.
The history of the town can be explored at the Telkwa Museum and on a tour of the historic former town site of Aldermere. Telkwa hosts an annual Jimmy Stewart day on August 30. The town also has Eddy Park, at the riverside and with a small gazebo, right off the highway.