Yellowhead Highway 16; 278 miles from Prince George. Area Population: Approximately 6,500. Visitor Information: New Hazelton Visitor Information Center, Highway 16 & 62, just west of New Hazelton; PO Box 340; 4070 9th Ave. New Hazelton, BC VOJ 2J0; Phone: (250) 842-6071; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than 6,000 people live in the towns of Hazelton, South Hazelton, New Hazelton and the surrounding villages. Though grouped together and sharing attractions, each community is a separate entity maintaining its own individuality. The Hazeltons were so named after the colorful hazel bushes that seem to dominate the terraced landscape, backdropped by spectacularly rugged Mount Roche Deboule.
Visitors en route to Hazelton, the original settlement in the area, will cross the single lane Hagwilget suspension bridge over the wild Bulkley River Canyon. Historians record that the original bridge was made by natives from poles lashed together with cedar bark rope. That suspension bridge served as a foot crossing for more than fifty years.
One of the smallest incorporated villages in British Columbia, Hazelton was first settled in 1866. The present community retains a pioneer atmosphere and businesses are fronted in 1890-style architecture. Many tourist services are available and tourist attractions within the town include the Pioneer Museum and the Gitenmuldo totem pole.
Historically, First Nations groups from the interior and coastal regions of BC came to this area for trade. They were followed by prospectors, fur traders and pioneers. The arrival of the sternwheelers on the Skeena River and the transcontinental railway contributed to the stability and growth of these communities. Since many of the most outstanding attractions between Prince Rupert and Prince George are located in this area, the Hazeltons have also become an important tourist destination.
The Kispiox River Valley, famous for world-class steelhead and salmon fishing, is north of Hazelton. The road follows the Kispiox River for approximately 40 miles and accesses many fishable lakes and streams; guided fishing services are available. This is also a prime canoeing and wildlife viewing area.
Ross Lake Provincial Park is located near New Hazelton and provides picnic sites, swimming, a boat launch ramp and excellent fishing in the lake and nearby Suskwa River.
The Gitxsan communities in the Hazelton area are graced by dozens of elaborately carved, stately totem poles illustrating the history of an intense connection to the natural world. In the ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum, located at the confluence of the Skeena and Bulkley Rivers, visitors can experience the richness and beauty of Northwest Coast culture through thoughtful, multi-dimensional cultural presentations highlighting the creative spirit of ‘Ksan. The combination facility is comprised of seven traditionally-styled cedar longhouses featuring fascinating aspects of Native life; local Gitxsan cultural guides can provide tours through some of the structures. Traditional aboriginal cuisine may be sampled in one of the longhouses, while others shelter a carving school and printmaking studio. Authentic native-made artwork including stunning jewelry, intriguing masks, fine sculpture and screen prints may be purchased at the ‘Ksan gift shop.
Visitors interested in the “Hand of History” tour can obtain information from the Tourist Information Centre west of New Hazelton. This circle tour takes motorists to a number of sites relevant to the history of the area.
SPECIAL EVENTS Canada Day: July 1; Pioneer Day: August; Gospel Music Festival: August; Gitksan Cultural Days: August