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Local History


The history of Houston reflects a recent history of pioneers, entrepreneurs, and the history of beautiful British Columbia. Much of it has been preserved thanks to groups of dedicated volunteers with a passion for ensuring the stories of those who came before are told.

The history of Houston was recorded in two earlier publications. First there was The Story of Houston, which was written by Betty Dungate and Nancy Goold in the early 1950s as a Houston Women's Institute project. This first history was greatly expanded and published as a 1971 Centennial project entitled Marks on the Forest Floor by a committee headed by Elnora Smith, who was assisted by Betty Dungate, Nancy Goold, and Margaret Morse. We pay tribute to Elnora and her committee. Without their work most of Houston's history would not be available to us today.

The Houston history included in this website was developed in 1998 as a project initiated by the Houston Public Library. The new book, entitled Marks of a Century, contains much of the information found in the first two histories of Houston (both now out of print) as well as an update of the last thirty years between 1971 and 2000. It is available from the District of Houston's Municipal Office.

Overview

Houston, like many communities in northern British Columbia, is a young community. Although we do not know when the first people traversed through this area, we do know that various First Nations groups occupied and traveled the land, and we are certain that they were here for a very long time before European settlers arrived. At the time of European contact, the area was traversed by the Wet'suwet'en people, and the history from these early times is preserved in their oral histories.

The area was scarcely settled, as major transportation networks had not been constructed prior to this point, and it would not be until the construction of the Collins Overland Telegraph Trail that the first non-native settlers would begin arriving in the area. When the project was abandoned after a telegraph line was successfully laid across the Atlantic Ocean, many of the workers chose to remain throughout the Bulkley Valley, hoping to prospect and pursue another means of making a living.

By 1885, a Roman Catholic Priest named Father A.G. Morice began to travel through the Bulkley Valley, accompanied by Aboriginal guides, and conducted impressive mapping expeditions and recording and renaming many names for the landmarks of the region, many of which remain to this day. By 1892, a government surveyor visited the area, reporting back on the wealth of natural resources in the valley to the Provincial Government. Several more people would travel through the land and settle in the valley, taking advantage of the wealthy of opportunity in this region.

As the small community which would become Houston grew, residents grouped together and formed the Houston Club, with the aim of fostering community spirit and well-being. As the community continued to grow and as the club expanded its role in the community, it became apparent that in order to meet the needs of the ever growing community, a local government would need to be formed. By 1957, the Village of Houston was officially incorporated, and would become a District Municipality in 1969.

The main staples of the community have always been agriculture, mining, and forestry, but that hasn't stopped residents from starting various types of businesses and being successful in the community. Over the years, Houston may have evolved, but that pioneering spirit and the ambient presence of opportunity has never disappeared.

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