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Alcan Project History

Settling In

Kitimat had a strong community spirit from the start. People from all walks of life and from many countries were all adapting to a new way of life in the brand new town of Kitimat. Cultural groups formed - Italian, Portuguese, Greek - and membership grew. Service clubs such as the Kinsmen and Kitimat Rotary, the Elks, and Kiwanis formed. Many new residents became members of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Nechako Toastmasters and Kitimat Business and Professional Women's Club. The Kitimat Chamber of Commerce formed in 1955 and commerce thrived at Nechako Centre and City Centre. Shopping was exclusive and top quality in Kitimat, the northwest’s urban centre.

Alcan’s stable workforce was mainly recent immigrants to Canada. Alcan recruited men from labour crews who could endure the rigours of smelter work. They came after hearing about the new town – a place you could bring your family and have a permanent job.

Infrastructure was set up quickly. By-laws were passed, a contract with the RCMP was signed, the School Board was elected, and a bridge over the Kitimat River was constructed. Infrastructure services included a hospital, schools, fire department, police, and town protection against invasion or disaster.

Early days were filled with public events – concerts, dances, and sporting events. Alcan sponsored a sports association and soccer and hockey were the competitive sports for the town. The Brush & Palette Club started up and the Rod & Gun Club built its clubhouse and curling rink beside Kitimat River. Music thrived in the high school and Kitimat’s Little Symphony was formed. The Fine Arts Association brought travelling art shows from all parts of Canada to Kitimat and a library and museum were included in Kitimat’s Master Plan as symbols of a stable urban community.