'Ksan Historical Village and Museum, Hazelton, Photo Destination BC Grant Harder
The Hazelton area is located along the Yellowhead Hwy 16 in Northern British Columbia and is comprised of several communities including: two municipalities (the Village of Hazelton and District of New Hazelton); three unincorporated settlements (South Hazelton, Two Mile, and the Kispiox Valley); and four First Nations’ Villages (Gitanmaax, Hagwilget, Glen Vowell and Kispiox). The culture and art of the region is representative of it populace, who are mostly aboriginal. The many totem poles on display in the area for visitors showcase this. As well as the Gitxsan Cutural Days, where ‘Ksan dancers perform the “Chief’s Competitive Dance”. Additionally, the region provides opportunity for many outdoor activities such as fishing and hiking. The area provides many local habitats for wildlife.
The ‘Ksan Indian Village is an historic site illustrating many features of a Gitxsan village from the distant past. For example, like its predecessors, ‘Ksan’s houses form a single line with each building facing the river thus making the large decorated house fronts and totem poles of the village visible from the water. The area also has a museum with a collection consisting of approximately 600 items. Comprised of both ceremonial and utilitarian materials, this collection illustrates the great diversity within the material culture of the Gitxsan. Items include bent boxes, ceremonial masks, button blankets, shaman’s regalia, fishing gear, hunting utensils, and assorted lithic artifacts housed in a proper museum facility with environmental controls.
The Hagwilget Suspension bridge is one of the highest suspension bridges in North America. It looms 81 m (265 ft) over the scenic waters of the Bulkley River.
The Hazeltons are located 144 km (90 mi) northeast of Terrace and 290 km (180 mi) northeast of Prince Rupert and 75 km (46 mi) northwest of Smithers on the Yellowhead Highway 16. ‘Old Hazelton’, is located on the banks of the Skeena River about 7 km (4 mi) off Highway 16.
For centuries, the Hazelton area has been home to the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en people. Since the 1860s, bustling pioneer communities have also risen around the confluence of the Skeena and Bulkley Rivers. This unique sharing of an unequaled wilderness setting has made the Hazeltons the historic heartland of Northwest BC.
In a majestic setting, dominated by the 3000 ft walls of the rugged Roche de Boule Range, is the Hazeltons. A ‘must see’ for those traveling Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert. The region takes its name from the many hazel bushes that paint the river-carved terraces.
The frontier spirit lives on in Hazelton. The “Old Town’s” restored heritage buildings serve as a reminder of the days when Hazelton was the commercial centre of the Northwest wilderness.
From 1886 to 1913, Hazelton was the upriver terminus for a fleet of sternwheelers that plied the wild rapids of the Skeena. At which point, the people and supplies reaching Hazelton were dispersed inland to mines, farms, and far-flung settlements. During this boisterous time, the area was home to heroic outlaws, mysterious anarchist bank robbers, daring riverboat captains, and a score of legendary wilderness eccentrics. The region maintains a friendly pioneer town atmosphere, making it easy to imagine the sound of riverboat whistles blowing, signaling the arrival of supplies, settlers, and long nights of revelry.
In 1914, hundreds of construction workers and homesteaders came to the valley. They were transported in on a transcontinental rail line which was pushed down the Skeena Valley. It was at this time that, in anticipation of a boon from the railroad, New Hazelton and South Hazelton were established.