Stewart is a mining town of about 500 people (2011) in British Columbia. Stewart is surrounded by breathtaking mountains, an emerald rainforest, clean fresh air and pure drinking water. Stewart is one of the vital gas stations on the Stewart Highway to Alaska. The bear viewing platform and the Salmon Glacier near its twin town on the Alaskan side of the border, Hyder, are the main vistas.
The Nisga'a First Nation, who lived around the Nass River, called the head of Portland Canal Skam-A-Kounst, meaning "safe house" or "strong house", probably because it served them as a retreat from the harassment of the Haida and Tlingit from the outer coast. They travelled in the area seasonally to pick berries and hunt birds. It and the rest of the Portland Canal had been the domain of the Tsetsaut people, also called the Skam-a-Kounst Indians, or Jits'aawit in Nisga'a, an Athapaskan people who became decimated by war and disease and were driven out of the Stewart area by either Haida or Nisga'a in 1856-57.
The Portland Canal was explored and named in July 1793 by Captain George Vancouver in honour of William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738-1808), Home Secretary from 1794 to 1801. The area around the Portland Canal was again explored in 1896 by Captain D.D. Gaillard of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (after whom the Gaillard Cut in the Panama Canal was later named). Two years after Gaillard's visit, the first prospectors and settlers arrived. Among them was D.J. Raine, for whom a creek and a mountain in the area are named. The Stewart brothers arrived in 1902. In 1905, Robert M. Stewart, the first postmaster, named the town Stewart.
Gold and silver mining dominated the early economy. Nearby Hyder, Alaska, boomed with the discovery of rich silver veins in the upper Salmon River basin in 1917 and 1918. Hyder became an access and supply point for the mines, while Stewart served as the port for Canadian mining activity, which was centred on the town of Premier, which was accessed by a 23-km road from Hyder. Other mines in the area were the Jumbo, BC Silver, Red Cliff, and Porter-Idaho. More large camps were south of Stewart at Anyox and Maple Bay.
Stewart had a population of about 10,000 prior to World War I, which has fallen to less than 500.
- 1 Stewart Aerodrome (ZST IATA). A private airfield on the eastern side of the town with no scheduled flights.
The nearest airport with scheduled flights is in Terrace.
Stewart is only accessable by road by Highway 37A, which connects it the Stewart-Cassiar Highway (Highway 37) at Meziadin Junction, about 45 minutes to the east; Meziadin Junction is about 2 hours north of the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) at Kitwanga. Stewart is about 6½ hours from Prince Rupert and 8½ hours from Prince George.
Driving distances from:
- Highway 37 north
- Highway 37 south
- Terrace: 311 km (193 mi)
- Prince Rupert: 454 km (282 mi)
- Prince George: 698 km (434 mi)
- Vancouver: 1,475 km (917 mi)
- Salmon Glacier: An impressive glacier viewpoint that is car-accessible. Access only via Hyder, Alaska, so bring your passport. About an hour's drive from downtown Stewart.
- Stewart Museum, 703 Brightwell Street,, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. May-Sep: M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 11AM-5PM. Two floors of this museum will give you a detailed understanding of the history of Stewart and its 100 years of mining. The museum is inside the historic Government Agent building, and is open seasonally from May-September.
- Bear watching around Stewart, and during the Salmon run specifically at Fish Creek near Hyder (Alaska side)
- Bear Glacier Provincial Park, Glacier Highway 37A. A picturesque glacier flowing into a lake next to the highway on the way to Stewart. Bear Glacier Park lies within the Nass Wildlife area and protects part of a large glacier and a glacial lake. The day-use area in this park has been closed. Visitors can still view Bear Glacier from Hwy 37 pull-out which is directly across from Bear Glacier. For an alternative day-use picnicking area, Meziadin Lake Provincial Park is approximately 30 km east of Bear Glacier.
- Estuary Boardwalk, 222 5th Ave (next to the Visitors Center in the middle of Stewart). Runs from the main road via a pleasant garden over the estuary. You can see the bay and the backdrop of cascading waterfalls, stunning snow-capped mountains and glaciers. A 30-60 minute walk with descriptive panels.
- Boya Lake Provincial Park (there is a 2-km access road east of Highway #37 that leads into the park: it is located about 150 km north of the town of Dease Lake, or 550 km N of Stewart), ☏ . Scenic camping and a wide variety of water recreation. Boya Lake is on the Liard Plain, an area carved out by glaciers 20,000 years ago. The area is characterized by elongated ridges, or drumlins and eskers. Boya Lake is one of the few lakes in the north that is warm enough for swimming. Boya Lake offers two short hiking trails, a mountain bike trail and limitless bays and islands to discover by canoe or motor boat. 4,597 hectares. 44 vehicle accessible campsites available mid-May through Sep, 10 of which can be reserved mid-May to early September. $20 per party per night.
- Toastworks, Main Street, ☏ . June to mid-Sep: M-Sa 7AM-2PM. Breakfast or lunch. The restaurant hosts a collection of antique toasters, coffee and tea percolators, heaters and other household items.
- Silverado Cafe and Pizza Parlour, 309 5th Avenue, ☏ . M-Sa 4PM-10PM. Pizza, burgers, tacos....
- Temptation Bakery and Deli, 307 5th Ave, ☏ . Daily 6AM-5PM.
Get 'hyderized' across the border in Hyder.
- Ripley Creek Inn, 306 5th Avenue, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers rooms in buildings that began as prospectors' cabins, old stores, lodges and even a former brothel. $115-155.
- King Edward Hotel and Motel, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. 30 hotel rooms and 20 motel units with kitchenettes and drive up comfort. All rooms have private bath, air conditioning, cable TV. Non-smoking and pet friendly rooms are available. King's Table Dining Room restaurant and Casey's Pub onsite. Single/double: hotel $99/109, motel $129/139.
- B&B Austria/Stewart Mountain Lodge, 603 10th Ave, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Single from $80, double from $80.
- Bear River RV Park, 2200 Davis St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 68 full service sites and dry/tenting areas. Located at the head waters of the Portland Canal. Forests of the giant Sitka Spruce, and the ocean is right at your feet. There is ample opportunity to view wildlife, bears and eagles feeding on salmon. Good fishing is also available.
- Rainey Creek Municipal Campground, West End of 8th Ave, ☏ . Shaded sites and grassy camping areas. Coin-showers, fire pits, a pay phone, a covered eating pavilion, playground, sale of firewood, horseshoe pits. 98 sites. Adjoining the campground is the Ian McLeod Memorial Playground with access along a scenic path beside the Rainey Creek, or street access from Highway 37A.
There are frequently bears around the area, it is thus important to stay bear safe, especially when camping.
- Obvious choice would be Hyder, Alaska. Just a 4-minute drive from downtown Stewart.
- Turnaround and go back to Meziadin Junction and explore the Stewart-Cassier Highway.
|Routes through Stewart|
|END ← Hyder ← ←||W E||→ Meziadin Junction → END|
|Routes through Meziadin Junction|
|Watson Lake ← Dease Lake ←||N S||→ Kitwanga → Terrace|
|Hyder ← Stewart ←||W E||→ END|