Oona River, Porcher Island

Oona River, Porcher Island

by | Sep 1, 2019

Oona River is a community of several houses, a town hall, and a fish hatchery along the banks of the Oona River estuary on the eastern coast of Porcher Island, about 25 miles (40 km) south of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Porcher Island is in Hecate Strait near the mouth of the Skeena River. The island is nearly bisected from the south by Porcher Inlet, a long, narrow channel that intrudes 8.5 miles (13.7 km) to a saltwater lagoon.

The construction of Canada’s second transcontinental railway, the Grand Trunk Pacific, beginning in 1906, spurred a flurry of settlement around Porcher Island and on nearby islands. At this time the governments of Canada and British Columbia were actively encouraging immigration into the west. If newcomers could not purchase a piece of land, they could acquire property by a process called pre-emption. The pre-emptions on Porcher Island coalesced into a number of communities, including Humpback Bay, Refuge Bay, Welcome Harbour, Hunts Inlet, Spiller River, Lawson Harbour, and Oona River. Oona River is one of the few coastal communities on Porcher Island that managed to survive the changing economy and technological shifts which have occurred since their original settlement. The other two settlements are at Hunts Inlet and Humpback Bay.

Oona River was first settled by Scandinavian homesteaders in about 1907 in anticipation of the construction of a railroad to Prince Rupert. A sawmill was built in the 1920s and logging and fishing have been the main commercial activities. The village has long been a source of wooden boats for the salmon fishing industry. Scores of sturdy seaworthy vessels were hand-built from red and yellow cedar by early settlers and their descendants, and some can still be seen in use today. A small salmon hatchery at Oona River was built in 1980 and was so successful that the community received funding to build a larger facility. In 1999, the new hatchery opened as part of a resource center complex that includes salmon and shellfish rearing facilities. In addition, the complex has a wet and dry lab, a conference area, and apartments to accommodate seminars, workshops and field schools. Read more here and here. Explore more of Oona River here:

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About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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