Terrace is a city on the Skeena River in British Columbia, Canada. The Kitselas people, a tribe of the Tsimshian Nation, have lived in the Terrace area for thousands of years. The community population fell between 2001 and 2006 from 12,109 with a regional population of 19,980 (Statistics Canada, 2001) to 11,320 and regional of 18,581 (Statistics Canada, 2006). The 2011 census showed that the community population had fallen further to 11,486. The community is the regional retail and service hub for the northwestern portion of British Columbia. The administrative offices of the Kitimat-Stikine Regional District are also located in Terrace.
The community sits on the Canadian National Railway and the Yellowhead Highway. Air services for the community are provided through Northwest Regional Airport, with connections to Prince George, Smithers, and Vancouver. The Terrace railway station is served by Via Rail's Jasper – Prince Rupert train. Health care in Terrace is administered by Northern Health and provided, in part, by Mills Memorial Hospital.
First Nations peoples
Indigenous peoples have inhabited Northwest BC for over 10,000 years. This region is one of the oldest continuously occupied regions of the world and, long before European contact, was one of the most densely populated areas north of Mexico.The flat mountain ranges surrounding the city of Terrace are traditionally called "GANEEKS LAXHA", which in the Tsimshian language means the stairway to heaven. The founder of Terrace, George Little, honored the traditional name of the area by calling his city "Terrace". Kitselas and Kitsumkalum are two Tsimshian communities in the Terrace area who continue to access traditional tribal and clan-based territories in northwest British Columbia. The Skeena River was known initially as the K'shian river meaning "where the mist comes out" (Ksi-to come out from, yeen(hian-mist/clouds). The traditional economy of the Tsimshian Nation was based on hunting, fishing and social gatherings, for domestic consumption or trade, on their traditional lands. For the aboriginal people, the Skeena River was used for transportation, communication, war, trade, as a source of food, and at times for protection.
In 1866 the steamer Mumford made it as far as Kitsumkalum with supplies for the Collins Overland Telegraph line. It took an average of three days to travel from Port Essington (at the mouth of the Skeena River, near Prince Rupert) to Hazelton. It was not until 1891 that the Hudson's Bay Company sternwheeler Caledonia successfully negotiated the Kitselas Canyon and reached Hazelton. A number of other steamers were built around the turn of the century, in part due to the growing fish industry and the Klondike Gold Rush. In honour of its steamboat heritage, Terrace celebrates a festival called Riverboat Days each summer.
Ontarian George Little arrived in the Skeena River valley in March 1905. While travelling from the Yukon by snowshoe on the Kitimat trail en route to the Bulkley Valley, he liked what he saw in the area, decided to remain, and staked claim later in the year to many acres of what would later be Terrace.
The riverboats operated on the Skeena for only 22 years; the last boat, the Inlander, finished up in September 1912, when the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway took over its function. George Little donated to the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The station stop was originally named "Littleton"; however, as there was already a Littleton in New Brunswick, Little changed the name to "Terrace" in reference to the local geography. Little established a sawmill to accommodate the demand for railway ties. In 1955, Little rode the first CNR train to Kitimat, passing over the same route he had trekked one half century earlier.
Old Skeena Bridge
The Old Skeena Bridge officially opened July 1925, halting the use of the Ferry Island ferry service to Thornhill Creek. In 1944, the Skeena River highway between Terrace and Prince Rupert was ceremoniously opened with a convoy of Canadian and American Army bands that were part of the troops stationed here during World War II. Terrace could now easily transport to anywhere in British Columbia.
During the construction of the rail line to Kitimat in the early 1950s, new pilings were poured beside the existing structure and the bridge deck was moved to the new, higher pilings. The original pilings were then used to hold a new rail bridge across the Skeena River for the CNR line to Kitimat. This arrangement is still in place today.
This bridge now shares its load with the George Little Bridges (often referred to as the New Skeena Bridges), a series of two two-way bridges crossing both channels of the Skeena River at Ferry Island and creating a bypass route of downtown Terrace for Highway 16. The new bridges, constructed circa 1975, are fully paved and offer uninterrupted two-way traffic flow, as opposed to the old single-lane bridge controlled by traffic lights. The foundations of the new bridge are prepared for future twinning. The Old Skeena Bridge was once noted for being the largest curved wooden-plank bridge in North America until its decking was replaced with metal grate decking in 2002 due to concerns of safety and upkeep. A concrete-surfaced pedestrian section was installed at the same time, behind an existing divider, to allow for safe bicycle and pedestrian use of the structure with the removal of the solid wooden deck planks.
During World War II, military units composed primarily of conscripts from central and eastern Canada were stationed in Terrace. Morale was low due to the poor relationship between the soldiers and the local populace, the isolation, the damp weather, lack of recreation, crowded facilities, and the distance from home. In late 1944, because of declining enlistment and heavy casualties, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was forced to reconsider his promise to not deploy conscripts overseas. Mackenzie King decided to a one-time assignment of conscripts for overseas service. On November 24, 1944, news that conscripts might be sent overseas triggered a mutiny amongst the men stationed in Terrace. It took until November 29 for officers to restore order to the troops. The Terrace Mutiny was the most serious breach of discipline in Canadian military history.