Portland Canal

The Portland Canal is an arm of Portland Inlet, one of the principal inlets of the British Columbia Coast. It is approximately 114 kilometres (71 mi) long.[1] The Portland Canal forms part of the border between southeastern Alaska and British Columbia. The name of the entire inlet in the Nisga'a language is K'alii Xk'alaan, with /xk/alaan/ meaning "at the back of (someplace)". The upper end of the inlet was home to the Tsetsaut ("Jits'aawit" in Nisga'a), who after being decimated by war and disease were taken under the protection of the Laxsgiik (Eagle) chief of the Nisga'a, who holds the inlet's title in native law.[2][3]

Despite its naming as a canal, the inlet is a fjord, a completely natural and not man-made geographic feature and extends 114.6 kilometres (71.2 mi) northward from the Portland Inlet at Pearse Island, British Columbia, to Stewart, British Columbia and Hyder, Alaska. Observatory Inlet joins the Portland Canal at Ramsden Point, where both merge with Portland Inlet.[4] Pearse Canal joins Portland Canal at the north end of Pearse Island.[5]

Portland Canal was given its name by George Vancouver in 1793, in honour of William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland.[3] The use of the word canal to name inlets on the British Columbia Coast and the Alaska Panhandle is a legacy of the Spanish exploration of the area in the 18th century. For example, Haro Strait between Victoria and the San Juan Islands was originally Canal de Haro. The English cognate to the Spanish canal is "channel", which is found throughout the coast, cf. Dean Channel. George Vancouver used both terms in his naming of inlets, Hood Canal for example.

The placement of the international boundary in the Portland Canal was a major issue during the negotiations over the Alaska Boundary Dispute, which heated up as a result of the Klondike Gold Rush and ended by arbitration in 1903. Together with Pearse Canal and Tongass Passage, the Portland Canal is defined by the Alaska Boundary Settlement (the Hay-Herbert Treaty) as part of Portland Channel,[6] a term used as forming the marine boundary in the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1825 but which was undefined at the time.

See also


  1. ^ Measured in Google Earth
  2. ^ "K'alii Xk'alaan". BC Geographical Names.
  3. ^ a b "Portland Canal". BC Geographical Names.
  4. ^ "Ramsden Point". BC Geographical Names.
  5. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Portland Canal
  6. ^ "Pearse Canal". BC Geographical Names.

External links

Coordinates: 55°37′30″N 130°07′15″W / 55.62500°N 130.12083°W

British Columbia Coast

The British Columbia Coast or BC Coast is Canada's western continental coastline on the North Pacific Ocean. The usage is synonymous with the term West Coast of Canada.

In a sense excluding the urban Lower Mainland area adjacent to the Canada–United States border, which is considered "The Coast," the British Columbia Coast refers to one of British Columbia's three main regions, the others being the Lower Mainland and The Interior.

The aerial distance from Victoria on the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Stewart, British Columbia on the Alaska border at the head of the Portland Canal is 965 kilometres (600 mi) in length. However, because of its many deep inlets and complicated island shorelines—and 40,000 islands of varying sizes, including Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii —the total length of the British Columbia Coast is over 25,725 kilometres (15,985 mi), making up about 10% of the Canadian coastline at 243,042 kilometres (151,019 mi). The coastline's geography, which is shared with Southeast Alaska and adjoining parts of northwest Washington, is most comparable to that of Norway and its heavily indented coastline of fjords, a landscape also found in southern Chile. The dominant landforms of the BC Coast are the Insular Mountains, comprising most of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii, and the Coast Mountains, which extend beyond into Alaska and the Yukon.

The British Columbia Coast is mostly part of the Pacific temperate rain forests ecoregion as defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. In the system used by Environment Canada, established by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), the area is defined as the Pacific Maritime Ecozone. In the geoclimatic zones system used by the British Columbia Ministry of Forests the bulk of the region comprises the Coastal Western Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone, although small areas flanking the Strait of Georgia at the coast's southern extremity are classed in the Coastal Douglas-fir zone.

Burniston Range

The Burniston Range is a mountain range of the Boundary Ranges in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, located on the northeast side of Portland Canal and north of the Ashington Range.

Fitz Hugh Sound

Fitz Hugh Sound, sometimes spelled Fitzhugh Sound, is a sound on the British Columbia Coast of Canada, located between Calvert Island and the mainland. Fitz Hugh Sound is part of a group of named bodies of water around the opening of Dean Channel, one of the coast's main fjords, where it intersects the infra-insular waterway known as the Inside Passage. Queen Charlotte Sound lies to its west, beyond which is the open ocean. Fitz Hugh Sound is the southern limit of the large group of offshore islands known as the North Coast Archipelago, which extends to the Dixon Entrance and the opening of the Portland Canal at the boundary of Alaska.

Fitz Hugh Sound was given its name in 1785 by James Hanna, the first non-indigenous person to find and map it. Hanna was the first British maritime fur trader to visit the Northwest Coast.

Halleck Range

The Halleck Range is a small mountain range in southeastern Alaska, United States, located on the Alaskan side of the Portland Canal. It has an area of 127 km2 and is a subrange of the Boundary Ranges which in turn form part of the Coast Mountains. The range is located within the Misty Fjords National Monument.

Indiana Canal Company

The Indiana Canal Company was a corporation first established in 1805 for the purpose of building a canal around the Falls of the Ohio on the Indiana side of the Ohio River. After several attempts, and possible sabotage by a supporter of the Louisville and Portland Canal, the project was ended.

Kitsault River

The Kitsault River is a river on the North Coast of British Columbia, Canada, located at the head of Alice Arm, which is the east arm of Observatory Inlet, which is itself an arm of Portland Inlet (see Portland Canal). Located at the mouth of the river are the localities of Alice Arm (a former post office and steamer landing), Kitsault (a former mining town) and Gits'oohl, a community of the Nisga'a people which was the Gitzault Indian Reserve No. 24 prior to the Nisga'a Treaty.

Lincoln Mountains

The Lincoln Mountains is a mountain range in southeastern Alaska, United States, located on the Alaskan side of the Portland Canal between the Salmon River and the Soule River, near the community of Hyder. It has an area of 235 km2 and is a subrange of the Boundary Ranges which in turn form part of the Coast Mountains.

Louisville and Portland Canal

The Louisville and Portland Canal was a 2-mile (3.2 km) canal bypassing the Falls of the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky. The Falls form the only barrier to navigation between the origin of the Ohio at Pittsburgh and the port of New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico; circumventing them was long a goal for Pennsylvanian and Cincinnatian merchants. The canal opened in 1830 as the private Louisville and Portland Canal Company but was gradually bought out during the 19th century by the federal government, which had invested heavily in its construction, maintenance, and improvement.

The Louisville and Portland Canal was renamed as the McAlpine Locks and Dam in 1962 after extensive modernization. The name "Louisville and Portland Canal" (or simply "Portland Canal") is still used to refer to the canal itself, which runs between the Kentucky bank and Shippingport Island from about 10th Street down to the locks at 27th Street.

The canal was the first major improvement to be completed on a major river of the United States.

McAlpine Locks and Dam

The McAlpine Locks and Dam are a set of locks and a hydroelectric dam at the Falls of the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky. They are located at mile point 606.8 and control a 72.9 miles (117.3 km) long navigation pool. The locks and their associated canal were the first major engineering project on the Ohio River, completed in 1830 as the Louisville and Portland Canal, designed to allow shipping traffic to navigate through the Falls of the Ohio.

Observatory Inlet

Observatory Inlet is an inlet on the North Coast of British Columbia. It is a northward extension of Portland Inlet, other branches of which include the Portland Canal. The entrance of Observatory Inlet, from Portland Inlet, lies between Ramsden Point and Nass Point. Ramsden Point also marks, to the west, the entrance of Portland Canal. Observatory Inlet was named by George Vancouver in 1793, because he set up his observatory on the shore of the inlet, at Salmon Cove, in order to calibrate his chronometers. His two vessels, HMS Discovery and HMS Chatham, stayed in Salmon Cove from July 23 to August 17, 1793. During this time a boat surveying expedition under Vancouver himself explored Behm Canal. Vancouver also named three headlands at the entrance of Observatory Inlet: Maskelyne Point, for Nevil Maskelyne, the Astronomer Royal, Wales Point, for William Wales, the mathematical master who sailed with James Cook, and Ramsden Point, after the famed mathematical instrument-maker Jesse Ramsden.

Peabody Mountains

The Peabody Mountains is a mountain range in southeastern Alaska located between the lower Portland Canal and the Marten River. It has an area of 1387 km2 and is a subrange of the Boundary Ranges which in turn form part of the Coast Mountains.

The range is located entirely within Misty Fjords National Monument.

It is about 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) from the Canada–United States border.

Portland Inlet

Portland Inlet is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean on the coast of British Columbia, Canada, approximately 55 kilometers north of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. It joins the Chatham Sound opposite the Dixon Entrance. It is 40 kilometers long and as much as 13 kilometers wide. It drains the Portland Canal, Nass Bay (outlet of the Nass River), and Khutzeymateen Inlet, among others, and is the site of Pearse Island and Somerville Island. Other major sidewaters of the inlet are Observatory Inlet and its east arm, Alice Arm.

Portland Inlet was mapped by the Vancouver Expedition in 1793 and named Brown Inlet, with George Vancouver later changing the name to honor the British House of Portland.

Pusher (boat)

A pusher, pusher craft, pusher boat, pusher tug, or towboat, is a boat designed for pushing barges or car floats. In the United States, the industries that use these vessels refer to them as towboats. These vessels are characterized by a square bow, a shallow draft, and typically have knees, which are large plates mounted to the bow for pushing barges of various heights. These boats usually operate on rivers and inland waterways. Multiple barges lashed together, or a boat and any barges lashed to it, are referred to as a "tow" and can have dozens of barges. Many of these vessels, especially the long distances, or long haul boats, include living quarters for the crew.

Salmon River (Portland Canal)

The Salmon River is a braided stream that flows through Hyder, Alaska, and empties into the Portland Canal. It is fed by meltwater from the Salmon Glacier, which is located within British Columbia approximately 13 miles north of its confluence into the Canal and is road-accessible from the town of Stewart, British Columbia. The river crosses the Canada–United States border at 56°02′00″N 130°02′00″W.

Seward Mountains (Alaska)

The Seward Mountains is a small mountain range in southeastern Alaska, United States, located on the upper Portland Canal. It has an area of 107 km2 and is a subrange of the Boundary Ranges which in turn form part of the Coast Mountains. Part of the eastern border of Misty Fjords National Monument transects the range. Despite its name, the Seward Mountains are located nowhere near Seward, Alaska or the Seward Peninsula, though the Seward Peninsula has its own set of four maintain ranges: the Kigluaik Mountains, Bendeleben Mountains, Darby Mountains, and York Mountains.

Shippingport, Kentucky

Shippingport, Kentucky is an industrial site and one of the six formerly independent settlements at the Falls of the Ohio in what is now Louisville, Kentucky. It was located on a peninsula on the south bank of the Ohio River, and incorporated without a name on October 10, 1785. It was later named Campbell Town after Revolutionary War soldier and settler John Campbell. He had been granted the land for his earlier service in the French & Indian War.

In 1803 the settlement was sold to a Philadelphia-based partnership and renamed Shippingport. Two Tarascon brothers became leaders of the French business community at the Falls, building a large warehouse, a 1200-foot rope walk, and a six-story water-powered flour mill at the site by 1819. Numerous French families settled in the area, making it a center of French culture for a time. Some of the French settlers came from Kaskaskia, Illinois, and other areas of French settlement along the Mississippi River after the United States completed the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Others were fleeing the French Revolution and its violence and political chaos, or social unrest in French colonies in the Caribbean. In 1804 former slaves succeeded in gaining independence for Haiti (formerly the French colony of Saint-Domingue) after years of warfare and violence.Among the early streets was Tarascon, named for the two French brothers who built up early development; and Bengal, perhaps named for a French settler and schoolteacher who came from Bengal via Calcutta and had first settled in Paris, Kentucky. From 1810 to 1820 the population increased 500%, from 98 to over 500, and this seriously challenged Louisville as Kentucky's most important port. Other early features included Elm Tree Garden, where there was horse-racing, and the Napoleon Distillery. The Tarascons' six-story flour mill built in 1817 became a symbol of Shippingport's success.

Though the town frequently flooded, Shippingport reached its peak in the 1820s with a population of 600. In 1825, construction of the Louisville and Portland Canal across the peninsula left the settlement on an island. Using the canal, ships could bypass the Falls and, by extension, Shippingport.

Shippingport was hard hit by the loss of its traditional business. In 1828, Louisville incorporated as a city and included Shippingport in its boundaries. But a bad flood in 1832 was the reason most of the French community moved to Portland, now also part of Louisville (it was then northwest of the larger city). The introduction to the Louisville Directory of 1844 expressed lingering negative public sentiment toward the canal: "The Louisville and Portland Canal, as constructed and maintained, is precisely one of those improvements for private interests, at the expense of the public good, which is obnoxious to the good of the whole community".The remnants of the settlement dwindled over the next century as the canal was gradually widened and a hydroelectric plant was built on the island. Most of the remaining families were forced to leave after the devastating Ohio River flood of 1937, which swamped this area. About 20 years later, the federal government condemned the remaining private property in 1958 to widen the canal, evicting the last families, some of whom had roots there for more than a century.

Stewart, British Columbia

Stewart is a district municipality at the head of the Portland Canal in northwestern British Columbia, Canada on the Canada–US border. In 2011, its population was about 494.


The Tsetsaut (Nisga'a language: Jits'aawit; in the Tsetsaut language: Wetaŀ or Wetaɬ) were an Athabaskan-speaking group whose territory was around the head of the Portland Canal, straddling what is now the boundary between the US state of Alaska and the Canadian province of British Columbia. The name T'set'sa'ut, meaning "those of the Interior", was used by the Nisga'a and Gitxsan in reference to their origin as migrants into the region from somewhere farther inland; their use of the term is not to the Tsetsaut alone but also can refer to the Tahltan and the Sekani.

Other than Nisga'a stories about them, little is known about the Tsetsaut other than bits of their language collected from two Tsetsaut slaves of the Nisga'a interviewed by Franz Boas in 1894.

Tsetsaut language

The Tsetsaut language is an extinct Athabascan language formerly spoken by the now-extinct Tsetsaut in the Behm and Portland Canal area of Southeast Alaska and northwestern British Columbia. Virtually everything known of the language comes from the limited material recorded by Franz Boas in 1894 from two Tsetsaut slaves of the Nisga'a, which is enough to establish that Tsetsaut formed its own branch of Athabaskan. It is not known precisely when the language became extinct. One speaker was still alive in 1927. The Nisga'a name for the Tsetsaut people is "Jits'aawit"The Tsetsaut referred to themselves as the Wetaŀ. The English name Tsetsaut is an anglicization of [tsʼətsʼaut], "those of the interior", used by the Gitxsan and Nisga'a to refer to the Athabaskan-speaking people to the north and east of them, including not only the Tsetsaut but some Tahltan and Sekani.

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