Museum of Northern British Columbia

This traditional longhouse museum is home to totem poles, carvings, artifacts and history of British Columbia.

Indigenous peoples have lived in British Columbia for more than 10,000 years. The Museum of Northern British Columbia in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, traces their early history along with the growth of Prince Rupert.

The award winning museum is known around the world. Visitors come to see both its building, and collection of artifacts, which date back to the end of the last ice age. Indeed, the building is actually an artifact as it’s built like a traditional longhouse (see the image above).

Inside the Museum of Northern British Columbia

While the longhouse is impressive on the outside — it’s even more impressive inside. I have to admit I’m somewhat obsessed with trees since visiting the redwood forests on the West Coast, so finding giant cedars (below) in the lobby of the museum had me hooked.

Immense cedar poles in the lobby of the Museum of Northern BC

Giant cedar poles in the lobby of the Museum of Northern BC

The great thing about cedar is that its scent endures long after the tree leaves the forest. So, the cedar smell made it feel like the lobby was outdoors. These Western red cedars are local to the Pacific Northwest, so have been used for millennia by locals.

Similarly, open spaces helped create the outdoor atmosphere. The cedar continued throughout the building as visitors view different parts of the collection.

A wooden bear sculpture (below) quickly grabbed my interest. Information sheets told me it was a rare example of Tsimshian mortuary art. Other museums have photos, but no original pieces. Throughout the museum, all of the pieces had full descriptions and signage that made it easy to learn about them.

Rare example of Tsimshian mortuary art in the Museum of Northern British Columbia

Rare example of Tsimshian mortuary art in the Museum of Northern British Columbia

Of course, like many other visitors to this part of Canada, totem poles topped my list of things to see in British Columbia. A number stand in Prince Rupert (where we started our journey across Western Canada on the Yellowhead Highway), however the three in the museum (below) were the most detailed that I saw.

Totem poles in the Museum of Northern British Columbia.

Totem poles in the Museum of Northern British Columbia.

The Collection

Whether you’re interested in art or history or culture, a visit to the Museum of Northern British Columbia is a must if you’re near Prince Rupert.

Argillite art of the Haida people.

Argillite art of the Haida people.

Many different materials have been used artistically in the Pacific Northwest over the centuries. The Haida people use a local shale called argillite to create pieces such as miniature totem poles, masks, pipes and figures. The video below features an interview with Haida sculptor, Lionel Samuels.

Other materials featured in the art collection include copper from the Northern Tlingit, obsidian from the Tahltan, and dentalium shells from the Nuuchahnulth

The Tsimshian people traded with others, including European trappers and explorers, for materials. This creates a rich collection of artistic pieces and clothing. In particular, button blankets, or embellished blankets, are worn for ceremonial purposes.

In addition to artifacts, the museum provides short histories of the area’s different cultural groups and their traditions.

History of the Museum of Northern British Columbia

The Museum of Northern British Columbia was established nearly a century ago, in 1924. The collection area runs between Portland Canal to the north and the Douglas Channel to the south. You can see the area below in this Google map.

The museum has a number of archival holdings from the early 1900s forward. Topics include an early history of Prince Rupert, the U.S. and Canada 54/40 boundary, and the area’s railway history. Diaries of Ben Codville, a lighthouse keeper on Pointer Island from 1898 – 1964, are an important part of the collection.

Since British Columbia is home to one-third of all First Nations in Canada, the museum is important in preserving Canadian heritage. Indeed, seven of Canada’s eleven unique language families are spoken in BC’s 198 different First Nations.

The Northern BC Museums Association administers the museum, along with the Northwest Coast First Nations Artists’ Studioand the ‘Wiwaabm Ts’msyeen, the Tsimshian Performance Longhouse.

Visit the Museum of Northern British Columbia

100 First Avenue West
Prince Rupert, British Columbia

Website: http://museumofnorthernbc.com/

Admission fees and year-round hours here: http://museumofnorthernbc.com/about-the-museum/

The photos in this article were taken of the building and artifacts at the Museum of Northern BC.

 

Pin Me!

Museum of Northern BC

Museum of Northern BC

Yukon Ghost Town #Photo Tour

The Klondike Gold Rush and the 100,000 dreamers who set off for Dawson City, Yukon, to make their fortunes, left a big footprint in the history of Canada's north. However, few, if any of us have heard of the Wheaton Gold Rush of 1906. Or, for that matter,...

Visit Regina — Queen City of the Plains

This planning guide will help you select the best places to stay in Regina, Saskatchewan, when you visit, no matter what part of the city, or its key attractions, you plan to see.

Where Can You Eat Bannock — a Traditional Indigenous Food — in Canada?

Where can you eat bannock in Canada? If you’re not familiar with it, bannock is a traditional Indigenous food in North America. Here’s a review of a Regina, Saskatchewan., restaurant that serves it.

6 Incredible Things To Do In Alberta

Visitors will a wide variety of things to do in Alberta ranging from incredible mountain views and vistas, ice fields and glacier walks, to the many attractions of one of North America’s largest malls in the province’s capital city, Edmonton. This list of 6 things to do will guarantee a great vacation.

5 Amazing Romantic Cities in Western Canada

No matter what you you’re looking for in a romantic weekend getaway, you’ll find the perfect winter destination is this list of romantic cities in Western Canada. You’ll find everything from ballet and fine dining to skiing and the spa. And the most romantic thing in all of them? The aurora borealis or Northern lights.

Is Carcross Desert the Smallest Desert in the World?

Tiny Carcross Desert is outside Carcross, Yukon, and covers a mere 260 hectares, or 642 acres. Once the bottom of a large glacial lake, these rolling sand hills are home to vegetation such as lodgepole pines as well as plant species that arrived via Berengia thousands of years ago.

A Proper Visit to Niagara Falls

The second largest falls in the world, Niagara Falls (comprised of 3 falls), has 600,000 gallons of water roaring over the Horseshoe Falls every minute! Take the Maid of the Mist boat ride right under them for an unforgettable experience.

Celebrate National Cake Day – November 26

Celebrate National Cake Day with Canada’s National favorite Nanaimo Bars — discover the history of this iconic Canadian dessert.

Where Can You Take the FlyOver Canada Simulation Ride?

FlyOver Canada is an eight-minute experience that takes you by helicopter over some of Canada’s most iconic places. From cowboys rounding up horses on the prairies, to the tops of the Rockies, the experience is nothing short of astounding.

Walk Through the Sign Post Forest on the Alaska Highway

The Sign Post Forest is a quirky roadside attraction on the Alaska Highway in Watson Lake, Yukon – now 75+ years old with 75,000+ signs from everywhere!

History of Transportation Museum – Bush Bikes to Studebakers

The Fort Nelson Heritage Museum archives the local history of transportation, and preserves the machinery of the past, along with other artifacts, to tell the story of this Northern British Columbia community at the Mile 300 marker of the Alaska Highway.

Keeping the Tradition of the English Pub Alive with Taps & Fine Whiskies

A traditional English pub was the focal point of community life. Here, you could drink your “pint,” relax and trade stories with friends, even make a deal or two. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s popular Winston’s English Pub & Grill captures the traditional pub atmosphere as well as adding its own unique spin on English cuisine.

Visit Québec for Cycling Adventures — Extreme Bike Rides to a World-class Race

Visit Quebec City for the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec as well as great cycling adventures, from beautiful bike tours to extreme mountain bike adventures.

Yukon Transportation Museum: Machines From a Sno-Train to a Monoplane

The Whitehorse, Yukon Transportation Museum, has an excellent collection of machinery of the past used in the far north with snow and muskeg, as well as various artifacts from the history of transportation, including everything from dogsleds and boats, to sea planes and trucks.

Try These Hiking Trails & Walking Trails — Crossing Hagwilget Canyon & Hagwilget Bridge

The Hagwilget Bridge, a suspension bridge crossing the Hagwilget Canyon, off Yellowhead Highway in Northern BC, at the Hazeltons, offers walking trails & hiking trails for all abilities.

Tweet
Share2
Pin2
+1
Flip
4 Shares