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Settling In: Highlighting 50 Years of Kitimat's History

Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Kitimat's days were filled with public events - concerts, dances, art events - a carryover from the camp days when recreation helped the workforce stay sane.  The Brush & Palette Club started up.  Music thrived in the high school, every church had a choir, and Kitimat's Little Symphony was formed.  In 1955, a series of original artworks came to Kitimat, on loan from the Vancouver Art Gallery and were displayed at the Coffee Cup in the Sheardown's supermarket store, Nechako Centre. Country and western music flourished with Art Grant of Kitamaat, Bruce Cleland and the Lonesome Valley Boys, and Harold Mosdell and The Starlighters.  By the 1980s, Erle Crawford and Moonshine were continuing Kitimat's country music tradition.  The Kitimat Jazz Society held its first concert with "The Moonglows".  Proceeds went to the local branch of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.  Dolly's Trio, the Jaycee Troubadours, and The Blue Stars were popular groups.

Visual art found a place!  In the 1950s, the Fine Arts Association brought travelling art shows from all parts of Canada to Kitimat.  Local artists were encouraged to participate in "rent-to-buy" - a one-month rental with the proviso that the piece could be purchased at the end of the month or returned.  Today, the Art Club of Kitimat has many members.

A library and museum were included in Kitimat’s original Master Plan by town planners as they were symbolic of a stable urban community.  The library began at the Townsite Firehall, now the site of the Public Safety Building.  In 1955, boy scouts and cubs collected 500 books from Smeltersite and Townsite residents, filling the shelves.  The Library found a new home at the old Municipal offices on Haisla Boulevard, then at Nechako Centre in 1957, and finally the new location in 1995. 

The high school had a long tradition of excellent music - voice and instrument.  Dennis Tupman began the tradition, and other band directors such as Mike Eddy continued it.  In 1974, the Mount Elizabeth Concert Band went to Britain. Over $40,000 was raised from special fundraising events.

 

Kitimat Rock & Roll

Rock & Roll came to Kitimat in the 1960s with The Stratatones, The Saints, The Phantoms, The Rubber Band, and Ichabod Crane.  Bands played sock-hops at Mount Elizabeth High School, Skoglund Hotsprings, The Red Door in Terrace, The Little Brown Jug at The Chalet in Kitimat and a teen club in Kitimat’s Service Center.  In those days bands made money by renting a hall and charging admission.  They would pack the place and make enough money to pay the rent and themselves.  Churches would rent out their halls for dances. 

Local rock bands during the last three decades flourished as high school students formed bands, broke up, then reformed under a new name. Gigs included school sock-hops, after-grad celebrations at Riverlodge, and Alcan Beach.  As musicians graduated and turned nineteen the bands played in local clubs such as the Kitimat Hotel and the After Eight Club (also known as Jasmine’s, The Ranch and Club Dax).

Library Interior

The new Kitimat Public Library, Nechako Centre, 1961. 

Mount Elizabeth Theatre

Mount Elizabeth Theatre opens in 1981.

Kitimat Band - The Saints

The Saints, circa November 3, 1965.  Left to right are Hermann Wegener on bass, Paul Owen on drums, Bob Vogel on rhythm guitar, and Brian Ingalson on lead guitar. 

Kitimat Choristers' Perform on CFTK TV

Kitimat Choristers' performance, Christmas Concert, CFTK TV, early 1960s

Kitimat's First Opera

Kitimat's first opera, presented by the Canadian Opera Company, November 25, 1961. "Orpheus in the Underworld" was appeared courtesy of a Canada Council grant and the sponsorship of the Kitimat Concert Association.

The Vancouver Symphony Visits Kitimat

The Vancouver Symphony in town! The performance took place in the high school gymnasium, March 24, 1962. A Canada Council grant brought the Symphony in cooperation with the Kitimat Concert Association.

Kitimat Centennial Museum

The Kitimat Centennial Museum opens its doors on October 9, 1969