Discovering Masset, British Columbia: A Village Steeped in History and Natural Beauty

Masset, formerly known as Massett, is a charming village nestled in the Haida Gwaii archipelago in British Columbia, Canada. Situated on Masset Sound on the northern coast of Graham Island, the largest island in the archipelago, Masset is approximately 50 km west of mainland British Columbia. It serves as the primary western terminus of Trans-Canada Highway 16, also known as the Yellowhead Highway, and is conveniently served by Masset Airport, offering flights to Vancouver and Prince Rupert.

The Historical Significance of Masset, British Columbia

During the maritime fur trade of the early 19th century, Masset emerged as a key trading site. It was officially incorporated as a village municipality on May 11, 1961. The name "Masset" was a gift from the captain of a Spanish vessel that was repaired with the assistance of the Haida citizens of Atewaas, Kayung, and Jaaguhl. These three villages accepted the gift and adopted the name Masset to commemorate what might be the first ever contact between Europeans and the Haida.

In the early years of Canadian colonization, the name Masset and the post office were adopted by the former Reverend Charles Harrison as part of his scheme to sell land. Today, the name Masset is used by two places: the Village of Masset, a municipality under Canadian legislation, and the Village of Old Masset, the original recipient of the name and a village under the Constitution of the Haida Nation.

According to John T. Walbran, Masset came from the Haida word Masst, or large island. In the local dialect of the Haida language, Masset's name is Uttewas, which translates to "white slope", likely referring to a small hill south of the village.

Demographics of Masset, British Columbia

As per the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Masset had a population of 838 living in 399 of its 518 total private dwellings, marking a 5.7% increase from its 2016 population of 793. With a land area of 20.69 km2, it had a population density of 40.5/km2 in 2021.

Oceanographic Research in Masset, British Columbia

From 1942, the British Columbia Shore Station Oceanographic Program collected coastal water temperature and salinity measurements for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans from Masset.

Military Base in Masset, British Columbia

Canadian Forces Station Leitrim Detachment Masset, established as Naval Radio Station Masset in 1943, is a Canadian Forces facility used to gather signals intelligence for the Communications Security Establishment Canada and the Canadian Forces Intelligence Branch. The equipment at CFS Masset is operated remotely from CFS Leitrim near Ottawa, Ontario.

Notable People from Masset, British Columbia

Masset has been home to several notable individuals, including Guujaaw, a renowned wood carver, musician, traditional medicine practitioner, and political activist. Other notable residents include Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, a Haida manga artist, and artists Robert Davidson and Florence Davidson, as well as carver Reg Davidson.

Climate of Masset, British Columbia

Masset enjoys a mild climate, moderated by a warm Pacific current from Japan. The annual temperature varies only 20 degrees Celsius but can be unpredictable. Average rainfall is 1,337.4 mm with snowfall of 75.3 cm. Summer temperatures range from 15 to 20 °C with long days boasting 18 hours of daylight. Winter months are mild with temperatures in the 0–8 °C range. Despite its northern location, rainfall follows a Mediterranean pattern, making it one of the northernmost places with this characteristic.