Sunday, March 14, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Friday, March 12, 2010)

A look at the Port's past and it's future, Homecoming plans continue to move forward and the Friendship House Tribesman rule the court at the All Native Junionr Basketball Tournament, some of the items for the Friday news review.

Daily News, front page, headline story
LONGTIME SUPPORTER OF THE PORT SAYS ITS HEYDAY HAS ARRIVED-- One of the foremost historians of all things Port related in Prince Rupert has knocked Charles Hays off his pedestal just a bit, as Dr. Bill Hick, the author of the book 'Hays' Orphan' offered up the thought that it should be former Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, who is most identified with the founding of the city. Dr. Hick outlined his position at Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday, part of the celebrations surrounding the City's 100th birthday. During his talk he recounted the history of Port of Prince Rupert and offered up the promise of much better times to come in the future.

The Rupert Write collective revealed their new work of literature on Monday, a book that celebrates the role women play in North Coast Society. Titled RupertWrites 2010: International Women's Day Writing Contest, the book provides a collection of poems, essays and short stories on women who live on the North Coast.

The guest list is growing and the preparations continue on for this years Homecoming celebrations, former residents are making plans from all corners of the world with more than 1300 confirmed with the organizing committee for attendance at the May event. You can get more information from the committee at their Third Avenue East office across from the Pioneer Hostel.

The Sports section featured a look at the All Native Junior Basketball Tournament and the weekend action for the Men's Marine Bonspiel at the curling club.

(Archive for Daily News Articles for March 12, 2010 )

Longtime supporter of the port says its heyday has arrived
RupertWrites focuses on women’s progress
2010 - What a Homecoming!
Rural Secretariat budget to stay the course

The Northern View
Friendship House Tribesmen defend provincial championship -- Results from the All Native Junior Basketball Tournament, which saw one of the local squads. Friendship House Tribesmen win their fourth championship in five years (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Houston, Terrace Teams Take Silver at Provincial Hockey Tournaments-- Northwest minor hockey teams were near and far at a number of tournaments this week and CFTK has some of the results (see article here)

CBC News British Columbia, Daybreak North
No new items were posted to the Daybreak website for March 12

The most recently  posted items archive for Daybreak North can be found here

The Daily News, front page, headline story
Longtime supporter of the port says its heyday has arrived
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, March 12, 2010

Just who really was Charles Melville Hays?

The reputation of the man whose name is synonymous with Prince Rupert’s founding took a beating on the city’s centennial Wednesday from one of the town’s most respected former leaders.

According to Dr. Bill Hick – author of ‘Hays’ Orphan’ – Hays does not deserve the type of adoration he receives for founding Prince Rupert, but instead the honour should be bestowed upon former Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier.

“The reason I say Laurier is that he had the vision for a second cross-Canada railroad from Moncton to the Pacific. Instead, Hays was responsible for the Pacific Great Eastern railroad, which eventually siphoned business away from Prince Rupert,” explained Hick.

Hick was the guest speaker at the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Wednesday. The former local doctor, port advocate and former president of the community-based holding company, Western Wharves, recounted the reasons for success and failure of port growth on the North Coast.

Before Hicks spoke, Buddy Helin, representing the Nine Allied Tribes of the Coast Tsimshian, welcomed the 
luncheon guests.

“I am very proud to be here. This land will always belong to my people – the Gits’iis. And because of that, there isn’t any crown land in Prince Rupert. So, you don’t have to pay anyone who is charging you taxes,” joked Helin.

“I am proud to see so many faces I recognize. I want to congratulate Prince Rupert on being 100 years – even though we were here long before that.”

Mayor Jack Mussallem acknowledged the members of Prince Rupert and Port Edward council along with members of the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District and former Mayors Herb Pond and Don Scott.

Though he saved his best compliments for the guest speaker.

“Dr Hick was very instrumental in putting Prince Rupert on the world stage for the very reason Prince Rupert was created – the Prince Rupert advantage,” said Mussallem.

Long before Prince Rupert was ever thought of, the Canadian Pacific Railroad was constructed from the east to Vancouver. At the time, the railroad was built to give the rest of Canada access to British Columbia and the Pacific. But it also resulted in CPR receiving exclusivity for cargo transport for twenty years.

Unluckily, Prince Rupert’s port came online one year before the stock market panic of 1911 that caused a slight economic depression through the first half that decade.

When this abated, the Great Depression took hold in the western hemisphere and the Manchurian incident that eventually led to the Sino-Japanese war of 1937, and eventually the stoppage of trade with China.

There was also a federal policy penned in 1946 that was written up to protect the port of Vancouver from competition “up North” explained Hick.

“These were the reasons Prince Rupert did not get off the ground, not this romantic notion of the Titanic [sinking],” Hick said alluding to the death of Hays on the ill-fated cruiseliner.

While Hick took a bit of the sheen off of Hays bronzed statue at City Hall, he added some luster to the future hopes of the community he moved to in 1956.

Prince Rupert’s slow start, an ‘orphaning’ according to Hick, was not to last forever. Through the efforts of many in the community, including Hick, Prince Rupert survived until it was finally granted an opportunity to grow with the announcement of the Fairview container terminal in 2003 and the completion of phase one in 2007.

Among Canada’s four largest ocean ports, only the Port of Prince Rupert is reporting an increase in freight volumes in 2009 over 2008 numbers.

The northern B.C. port reported they handled 15 per cent more overall freight last year, its highest volume throughput in 12 years.

Freight volumes were down 12 percent at the Port of Montreal, down 11 percent at the Port of Vancouver, and down 6.2 percent at the Port of Halifax.

It would not have reached those benchmarks had it not been for the efforts of Hick, who meticulously sought four achievable goals during his lifetime on the North Coast. One was to gain a Cargo terminal for Fairview. Check. The next was to bring grain and coal to the North Coast, and with Prince Rupert Grain and Ridley Terminals Inc - that was check and check. He then served 11 years on the BC Ferries directors’ board where he advocated for and helped bring ferry terminals for Haida Gwaii in Skidegate and Aliford Bay. Check.

“The people down in Victoria never seemed to realize how vital ferry service is for the North and Central Coast. They seemed to think that serving these coasts was the same as servicing Saltspring Island,” said Hick.

Hick told the crowd he was very glad to be home, “though I can share with Chief Helin that I can remember 50 years ago, but yesterday - not so good.”

However, Hick predicted that Prince Rupert had reached its date with destiny and was just as bullish about the North Coast as he had ever been.

“I cannot see anything but a two-fold increase on the throughput at Fairview, if not a tripling. I would make a strong case, though, to have all of the community leaders, First Nations, CN and other stakeholders work together. There is no other place to go.”

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