Discover Bella Coola, British Columbia: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty
Bella Coola, an unincorporated community nestled in the Bella Coola Valley of British Columbia, Canada, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. The term "Bella Coola" often refers to the entire valley, which includes the settlements of Bella Coola proper, Lower Bella Coola, Hagensborg, Salloompt, Nusatsum, Firvale, and Stuie. The Central Coast Regional District's head offices are also located here. As of the 2021 census, the Bella Coola Valley is home to 2,163 residents, marking an 8% increase from the 2016 census.
The Geography of Bella Coola, British Columbia
The Bella Coola River valley, a long, narrow geographical structure, defines the community's physical layout and population distribution. The river meanders along the town's eastern and northern edges before discharging into the head of North Bentinck Arm. Highway 20, also known as the Chilcotin Highway, stretches from the Government wharf on the Pacific Ocean through the populated portion of the valley before climbing to the Chilcotin Plateau. The entire population of Bella Coola lives either on this road or very near to it. In recent years, the mountainous terrain around Bella Coola has become a hotspot for heliskiing, with the Bella Coola Valley being ranked as the World's Best Heliskiing Operation since 2017.
The Origin of the Name "Bella Coola, British Columbia"
"Bella Coola" is an exonym derived from the Heiltsuk bḷ́xʷlá, meaning "somebody from Bella Coola" or "stranger". The Nuxalk endonym for the local region is "Nuxalk", and the specific village site of Bella Coola is "Q'umk'uts". The term "Bella Coola" has been used to refer to the entire valley and, at times, the entire ethnic region. Increasingly, the term "Nuxalk Territory" is used for the entire region, and Bella Coola refers specifically to the river valley. Sir Alexander Mackenzie referred to it as 'Rascal's Village'.
The Climate of Bella Coola, British Columbia
Bella Coola's climate is a moderate oceanic climate due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Its summers are warmer than coastal places much further south due to its semi-inland position. The maritime air is made warmer by the passage of the outer islands, but is stronger in terms of winter moderation. This results in a climate that far belies its northerly latitude in North America. There is a strong drying tendency in summer, but remains above the dry-summer climates that are often referred to as cs climates (Mediterranean).
Transportation in Bella Coola, British Columbia
Highway 20 provides a 454 km mostly paved road connection to Williams Lake. The 137-kilometre section from Bella Coola to Anahim Lake was built in 1953 by local residents and features a 15 km ascent from the Valley floor to the Chilcotin plateau, gaining 1600 metres in elevation to the summit at Heckman Pass, via a number of steep grades & switchbacks.
Bella Coola is served by the Bella Coola Airport, located 14 km from the townsite. Pacific Coastal Airlines offers scheduled traffic to Vancouver and Anahim Lake. Charter services by both plane and helicopter are also available.
BC Ferries provides service from Bella Coola. Since its re-establishment in 1998, this service has connected to Bella Bella, and usually to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, with various other intermediate destinations served at different times.
The History of Bella Coola, British Columbia
The Nuxalk people were present in the Bella Coola valley prior to any formal written history of the area. This is confirmed both by oral history that continues unbroken to present day, and by written history of some of the first European explorers of the area. In 1793, Alexander MacKenzie arrived from the east, completing the first recorded crossing of the continent north of Mexico.
Bella Coola, British Columbia in Popular Culture
In the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, the main character, Bruce Banner / Hulk concludes the plot by escaping to Bella Coola, where he attempts to control his transformations. Significant footage for the film was shot in and near Bella Coola, though only very limited amounts were retained in the finished product.
Elected Representatives of Bella Coola, British Columbia
The Bella Coola Valley includes Electoral Areas C, D and E of the Central Coast Regional District (CCRD)
Electoral Area C: Jayme Kennedy Electoral Area D: Lawrence Northeast Electoral Area E: Will Ward
The Bella Coola Valley is located within the North Coast electoral district of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly. The riding is represented by New Democrat MLA Jennifer Rice.
The Bella Coola Valley lies within the Canadian Parliamentary riding (electoral district) of Skeena—Bulkley Valley, currently represented by New Democrat MP Taylor Bachrach.