The Ecstall River is about 62 miles (100 km) long, draining a watershed of 207,568 acres (84,000 ha), and flows into the lower tidal reach of the Skeena River, about 60 miles (97 km) west-southwest of Terrace and 18 miles (29 km) southeast of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The watershed is an important habitat for salmon spawning and supports five species of trout. The Ecstall-Spokskuut Conservancy and the Ecstall-Sparkling Conservancy were established as part of the provincial government North Coast planning area.
The confluence of the Ecstall and Skeena River has traditionally been an important meeting place for First Nations of the upper Skeena and the coastal Tsimshian. A cannery was built at the mouth of the Ecstall River in 1871 by Robert Cunningham and Thomas Hankin and was for a time the largest settlement in the region. In the Tsimshian language, the site of Port Essington is called Spokskuut which means “autumn camping place”. It is on the traditional territory of the Gitxaala, Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla Nations.
Two hydroelectric projects now operate on the Ecstall River. A water-powered sawmill called Brown’s Mill was operated from around 1900 to 1975 about 10 miles (16 km) upstream on the Ecstall at the outlet of Brown Lake. This is now the site of a 7.2 MW run-of-river hydropower facility commissioned in 1996. A hydroelectric project was built at Falls River in 1930 and purchased by BC Hydro in 1964. The powerhouse contains two 3.5 MW turbines that currently generate about 0.1% of BC Hydro’s total system production, however, the facility plays an important role in providing power to the Prince Rupert area when supply from the grid system is disrupted. See a short video of the lower Ecstall River here. Read more here and here. Explore more of Ecstall River here: