Five things not to miss in Prince Rupert
By Elaine Yong, Vancouver Sun; Canwest News ServiceAugust 22, 2009
Even the locals admit it rains a lot in Prince Rupert. After all, the city of 13,000 comes by its moniker of “Rainiest City in Canada” honestly --it averages 2,500 millimetres of precipitation every year.
But don’t let a little bit of wet stuff stop you from visiting this charming community. - Get back to nature. Prince Rupert offers the most easily accessible grizzly bear-viewing opportunities. A two-hour boat ride takes you to the Khutzeymateen, the only grizzly sanctuary in Canada. About 50 bears live here. I saw five bears in two hours and the guide on board my Prince Rupert Adventure Tours boat told me they had only one trip in 2008 with no grizzly sightings. If you aren’t there during bear season, which is May to July, go whale-watching instead. Locals say it’s the best whale-watching in B. C. because it’s quite common to witness humpbacks bubble feeding.
www.adventuretours.net - Explore a little bit of history. The North Pacific Cannery, on the banks of an estuary of the Skeena River near Port Edward is the oldest intact fish cannery on the West Coast of North America.
The National Historic Site is a rambling collection of crumbling wooden buildings on piles, all connected by a boardwalk. Take a tour of the main cannery building, a must for history buffs. A bus from Prince Rupert to the cannery, 20 kilometres southeast, takes about 40 minutes.
www.cannery.ca - Immerse yourself in First Nations culture. First Nations have lived in this area for thousands of years. Prince Rupert is the traditional territory of the Tsimshian, who now make up more than half the city’s population.
The rich history and culture of the northwest first nations is on display at the Museum of Northern B. C., a striking longhouse-style building right in the heart of the downtown waterfront. The museum also leads walking tours around town for$2.
For further exploration, take a guided tour of Pike Island, home to several archeological sites, including petroglyphs along the beach. Seashore Charters uses tour leaders of Tsimshian ancestry.
www.museumofnorthernbc.comwww.seashorecharters.com - Take an independent walking tour. The great thing about Prince Rupert’s compact downtown is its walkability. Hit charming Cow Bay first.
What used to be an industrial hub of activity for the fishing industry has been transformed into a picturesque cluster of shops, cafes and restaurants. Pick up some Indian candy or fresh halibut (packed for travel) at Dolly’s, shop for funky B. C.-made souvenirs at Homework, and stop for a coffee break at Cowpuccino’s.Then head to the historic downtown core for more browsing–look out for the city’s totem poles along the way. Some of the buildings on Second Avenue are original, dating back to 1911. If you’re here during Seafest, the biggest annual event in the city, make time for the parade. - Indulge in fresh seafood. You can’t leave Prince Rupert before indulging in halibut at least once. You can have it fish-and-chips style at a local greasy spoon, or in a delicious smoked pate at Rain Dining Lounge. Don’t forget the fantastic, fresh creations of Adrienne Johnston of the Cow Bay Cafe.
The evening I dined there, the Skeena River spring salmon was perfectly cooked, simply garnished so the taste of the fish shone through. Johnston has no set menu, she cooks what is in season and available.
Go to www.tourismprincerupert.comfor help planning your trip to Prince Rupert.