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Settling In: Highlighting 50 Years of Kitimat's History

Kitimat Commerce

"Stores and shopping facilities were desperately needed and the Property Department had to explain Kitimat to merchants who knew nothing of local conditions but were considering an investment in the town.  The Department endeavoured to interest those who would be in the best position to serve the community.  Rumours about Kitimat circled the globe and thousands wrote to find out if the streets were really paved with gold." Kitimat - Kemano: Five Years of Operation, 1954-1959

Kitimat shopping was exceptional - exclusive and top quality!  Over the years Terrace residents made their way down the highway to shop in Kitimat at Nechako Centre and City Centre.  Nechako Centre, newly completed in1954, was Kitimat's first shopping centre.  City Centre shopping opened in 1956. In keeping with the town planner's vision, motor traffic and parking were confined to the exterior bordering regions of the shopping and business areas. The spacious landscaped malls would only be for pedestrian traffic. The Northern Sentinel, May 5, 1955, commented that the Alcan Commercial Building also in City Centre would be a "smart example for future city centre development".

Shopping could also be found in the light industrial area, Service Centre.  Temporary buildings B and C opened in 1956 across from the Kitimat-Gordon Hotel open since May 1955.  Hotel Manager George Moore required that men wear a white shirt, suit, and tie when attending functions at the Blue Room, the hotel's dining room.

Kitimat's Business Community

The Kitimat Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1955.  Its founding members included a florist, a shoe store, banks, a dairy, appliance sales, a barber, several professionals, and Alcan.  The Business and Professional Women's Club (1957 - 1977) provided a network for local businesswomen, sponsoring international dinners, a graduation tea, and two scholarships.

The Kitimat Lions' Club saw a need to hold a Trade Fair for northwest businesses - the first held in 1963.  "…It will enhance goodwill and stimulate purchasing within the communities" Northern Sentinel, May 16, 1963.  A car and boat show was held outside and approximately 40 exhibitors - many from out of town - displayed inside.  By 1968, the Fair was approaching the 10,000 mark for attendees to the three-day event held at the YMCA, now Riverlodge.

Prime Minister John Diefenbaker meets potline workers

The Kitimat Chamber of Commerce held a reception for John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada when he visited Kitimat in August 1959.  Identified are John Watt, Contractor (far left), Prime Minister Diefenbaker, and Chamber President Don Forward, owner of Kitimat Builder Supplies (far right).  

Century House, City Centre

Century House, City Centre, 1959. The Royal Bank of Canada occupied the main floor, and Property and Power Operations for the Aluminum Company of Canada occupied an upper floor. 

Proposed City Centre commercial building

View of the proposed commercial building for Kitimat's City Centre by Semmens & Simpson, Architects for Alcan, May 5, 1955. 

City Centre Construction

Start of mall construction, City Centre, April 6, 1973.

Hilite Electric Services building

Hilite Electric in 1964, proprietor Lloyd Hubbard.  Small open-air mall located in Service Centre across from the Kitimat-Gordon Hotel. 

Kitimat Gordon Hotel

Kitimat-Gordon Hotel, September 1955.

Sheardown's Coffee Cup

The Coffee Cup at Sheardown's Shop Easy, Nechako Centre.  From left are Susan Simmons, Armida Campbell, and P. C. Staniforth, Manager. 

Kitimat Business and Professional Women's Club Event

Dr. Evelyn Fox lights candles at a Kitimat Business and Professional Women's Club event, February 1961.

Lion's Club Annual Trade Fair

Lion's Club Annual Trade Fair opening at the YMCA, now Riverlodge, May 30, 1968. The first Trade Fair was held in 1963. By the fifth fair, 9,362 people attended the three-day event and a parade with the Kitimat Elk Twirlettes, Kitimat Pipe Band, Mount Elizabeth Band and the Sea Cadets opened the event.