Kitimat, Douglas Channel

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Kitimat, Douglas Channel

by | Jun 7, 2020

Kitimat is a designed community developed in 1951 by the Aluminum Company of Canada (Alcan) at the head of Douglas Channel, 71 miles (115 km) east-southeast of Prince Rupert and 32 miles (52 km) south of Terrace, British Columbia. The community was named after the nearby village of Kitimaat, the home community of the Haisla people. The word “Kitamaat” comes from the Tsimshian, who originate from Prince Rupert and Metlakatla areas, and means “people of the snow”.

Before 1950, there was a small fishing village at the head of Kitimat Arm, a deepwater fjord with numerous salmon streams. In the 1950s, Alcan undertook one of the more ambitious Canadian engineering projects of the 20th century. Kenney Dam was built across the Nechako River, and a tunnel 10 miles (16 km) long was bored under Mount Dubose to transport the captured water to a hydroelectric generating station at Kemano. From there, a transmission line was strung to carry the electricity over 50 miles (80 km) to Kitimat, where a power-demanding aluminum smelter was established.

Alcan also had to plan and build the community of Kitimat from scratch for its employees and construct a deep-sea terminal to export its product. Alcan employed the services of city planner Clarence Stein to design a community design that would attract and retain workers by keeping industry well separated from the community with large areas for expansion. The design also created looped streets surrounding an urban city linked by over 28 miles (48 km) of walkways. Today, the aluminum producer Rio Tinto is the main employer. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kitimat and Douglas Channel here:

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