The city of Prince Rupert is actually situated on an island: Kaien Island, just north of the Skeena River in northwestern British Columbia, Canada.
The island is linked with a short bridge to the mainland, however the bridge is hardly noticeable so do not expect the traditional “island” feel. Expect a small town by the west coast in northern Canada feel: Meaning, a mix of exotic weather, wildlife, cute cafes, cows (?) & all the colours of the rainbow…
Prince Rupert lies at the heart of the traditional territory of the Tsimshian First Nation territory, bordered by the lands of the Gitxsan, Nisga’a, Haida and Heiltsuk people,many of whom today make their home in Prince Rupert. Some also live in their traditional communities along the coast and these areas can be accessed by ferries.
Both BC Ferries and the Alaska Marine Highway operate ferries that stop in Prince Rupert, with destinations in the Alaska Panhandle, the Queen Charlotte Islands, and other communities along the coast.
Northwest Coast nations are best known for their monumental art, and you will see towering totem poles in Prince Rupert and throughout the region. The area located by the Prince Rupert harbour was named “Cow Bay” after a dairy opened here in 1909. Although the dairy company did not last long, the area is still known as Cow Bay – and is decorated accordingly (note the black & white trash cans below).
It is also home to one of my favorite restaurants – in the world: The Cow Bay Cafe (photo below). One very talented woman makes the food, with help of an assistant. The menu changes according to what she feels like making, and what is available. I would go to Prince Rupert just for Cow Bay Cafe…seriously 🙂
Many of the waterfront buildings in Cow Bay are built on pilings over the water and painted in colours that appear particularly pleasing even on a grey and rainy day. And I must say I am a fan of the painted walls depicting whales and orcas (see below)!
Smile’s Café was established in 1922 as an ice cream & hot dog stand and was named after its owner Dolly Nelson who was well known for her wonderful smiles. The Breakers Pub building was built in 1940 as a chandeliers shop & supply store. In 1985 it was converted to the popular waterfront pub.
Another favorite cafe and coffee spot is Cowppucino’s (named in line with its location in Cow Bay). The latte’s are fantastic and their desserts are likewise, in addition to having a nice sandwich and soup menu. Recommended….
Located in a temperate rainforest Prince Rupert is often referred to (by the locals) as the City of Rainbows. As for the rest of us, it is “the city with the most amount of rain in Canada”.
To accommodate the amount of water coming down on Prince Rupert giant umbrellas are installed along the road in the Cow Bay area. And of course, appropriately decorated.
According to weather statistics Prince Rupert has 240 days per year where there is at least some precipitation. And there are only 1230 hours of sunshine per year. I considered editing the photos depicting the grey weather, but decided there is beauty in low hanging clouds! 🙂
There are some wonderful hiking trails in the area around Prince Rupert. Butze Rapids being the most popular one (Or “Butzy Rabbits” as I like to call it…). The two photos above are from this trail (beautiful!).
Although the Butze Rapids trail is nice…be aware….wildlife may be lurking behind the beautiful scenery!
Prince Rupert’s sheltered harbour is the deepest ice-free natural harbour in North America, and the third deepest natural harbour in the world. This harbor happens to be located between Asia and the west coast of North America.
This makes it an ideal location for a port – and today it is the northwestern most port in North America linked to the continent’s railway network. Along with fishing and tourism this is Prince Rupert’s main industry.
Large tank ships ‘parked’ outside Prince Rupert is a familiar site here. Either awaiting a container load at the port, or awaiting safer weather. Or most likely both.
Prince Rupert is the starting point for many wildlife viewing trips including whales, eagles, black bears and grizzly bears. And fishing. Let’s not forget the fishing…
The best – photographed – wildlife experience I had while in Prince Rupert was of the bald eagles:
Bears and wolves frequent the area so much that you want to be keeping your eyes open when hiking (note the Butze Rapids warning above).
As proof I will include a very poor photo of a black bear that we encountered while driving (I’m very glad we were inside a vehicle…).
I was taken by quite the surprise!
This fish was also a surprise!
But I got a better photo than of the bear. Thank goodness – or else no one would have believed me!
In summary, Northwestern Canada does not disappoint. The beauty in this area – regardless of weather – is quite breath taking. And the fish are huge!
The only thing that bites, is how to get there… Which I will explain in more detail in my next post…