Stewart, Portland Canal



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Stewart, Portland Canal

by | Mar 10, 2019

Stewart is a community on the Bear River, at the head of Portland Canal, British Columbia. Hyder, Alaska is only 2 miles (3 km) to the southwest. The Cassiar Highway connects Stewart to the road system via the Stewart-Hyder access road (Highway 37A) from Meziadin Junction, 40 miles (64 km) to the east. The Cassiar was originally a roadway extended south from the Alaska Highway to serve the Cassiar mining district. This was connected to logging roads at Meziadin Junction in the 1970s and eventually paved.

The Nisga’a called the head of Portland Canal Skam-A-Kounst, meaning “safe house” or “strong house”, probably because it served as a retreat from the harassment of the Haida and Tlingit on the outer coast. The first European to explore Portland Canal was Captain George Vancouver who named the fjord in July 1793 in honor of William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland. The Portland Canal area was again explored in 1896 by Captain D.D. Gaillard of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Two years after Gaillard’s visit, the first prospectors and settlers arrived. In 1905, Robert M. Stewart, the first postmaster, named the town Stewart.

Gold and silver mining dominated the early economy. Nearby Hyder, Alaska, boomed in 1917 and 1918 with the discovery of rich silver veins in the upper Salmon River basin. Hyder became an access and supply point for the mines, while Stewart served as the port for Canadian mining activity which was centered on the town of Premier, about 14 miles (23 km) by road from Hyder. Other mines in the area were the Jumbo, BC Silver, Red Cliff, and Porter-Idaho. More large camps were established south of Stewart at Anyox and Maple Bay. Prior to World War I, Stewart had a population of about 10,000. Today the population is less than 500. Read more here and here. Explore more of Stewart and Portland Canal here:

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