Terrace Photo SimonSees.com
Terrace is located in Northern British Columbia along Yellowhead Highway 16 and is known for lush forests of western red cedar, western hemlock, amabilis fir and Sitka spruce. It is the regional business centre for the area and located on a series of natural flat benches, or terraces (hence the name) within the broad Skeena River Valley. The relatively close proximity to the ocean (60 km / 37 mi), the low altitude (60 m / 196 feet above sea level), and its location within the shelter of the Coast Mountains has created a natural greenhouse effect. Rainfall is less than half of that found on the coast and temperatures are moderate – warm. This is enough to permit the growing of fruit orchards and specialty crops.
Outdoor recreation is popular with hiking and biking trails, paddling, boating and sport fishing. In the winter skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling are among some of the favorite activities. The most notable attraction of the area is the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) which can be viewed from one of the many parks. Terrace is one of only a few communities in British Columbia far enough north to see this magnificent spectacle.
North of Terrace accessed via Highway 201, is the stunning Nass Valley. This river valley was formed by molten lava traveling to the Pacific Ocean. Its long lava beds can be found in the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park, and totem poles, Nisga’a art, and more are throughout the valley and in the four villages of New Aiyansh, Canyon City, Greenville and Kincolith.
The junction of the Skeena and the Kitsumkalum Rivers was originally the site of a Tsimshian Indian Village. At that time, fur trading and gold prospecting were the principal activities along the Pacific Shore, including the Skeena area from 1770 to 1900. In the early 1890’s, a steamboat route was established up the Skeena as far as Hazelton. Tom Thornhill settled permanently near what is now known as “Little Canyon” on the south side of the Skeena.
In 1905, George Little staked his pre-emption across the Skeena River, and purchased land in what is now known as Terrace. He gave land to the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, resulting in the creation of a railway station in Terrace, rather than at Kitsumkalum.
Up to World War II, the town existed as a sawmill community, having incorporated in 1927. In the early 1950s, Terrace began to serve as a distribution centre for the new town of Kitimat and became an important wood processing centre with the establishment of the Canadian Cellulose Company.
Terrace was once known as the cedar pole capital of the world. Over 50,000 poles were manufactured annually to supply many parts of North America with telephone and electric power poles. The world’s tallest pole (50 metres) was cut in Terrace and is currently standing in New York City.
The city’s mascot is the Kermodei bear, a rarely seen cream-coloured subspecies of black bear. Unique to BC’s north coast, the “spirit bear” is increasingly imperiled by habitat loss.