It might be hard to believe now, but Kitimat as we know it is less than 70 years old.
A newly posted video from Doug Gent shows what the town looked like when it was under construction in the late 1950s, and there are a lot of cool-looking cars from the era driving past cleared forests where new houses would soon take shape.
“The building of Kitimat in the 1950s was certainly massive in scale.”Northern Sentinel
Gent describes the footage as an “8mm film taken by Bud Walker, during his time at Kitimat, ca 1956-57.” The grainy video is fascinating, and has already racked up nearly 1000 views on YouTube.
It was a period of rapid construction, not unlike now, as LNG Canada is “changing the skyline” of Kitimat with new structures equivalent to small skyscrapers, as this video from last year shows.
But as massive as this new liquified natural gas terminal will be, it still pales in comparison to the construction captured in Gent’s recent video.
“The building of Kitimat in the 1950s was certainly massive in scale, was the talk of the country, and was covered around the globe – even the world-renowned National Geographic and Popular Mechanics published features on our town,” as the Northern Sentinel reported in 2018. “It is said that in 1955 dollars $500 million was spent. In today’s terms, that would certainly be in excess of $20 billion.”
The construction of Kitimat “forever transformed the landscape and the [First Nations] people who have called it home for millennia.”Knowledge Network
At that time, the construction was being done to create a community for workers at Alcan’s aluminum smelter. The company predicted back then that Kitimat’s population would eventually reach 50,000.
“It peaked around 13,000 in the early 1980s,” according to the Knowledge Network’s project British Columbia: An Untold History. “Today, it sits below 10,000.”
Nevertheless, the construction of Kitimat “forever transformed the landscape and the [First Nations] people who have called it home for millennia,” it explains.