Kitimat, BC, incorporated as a district municipality in 1953, population 8335 (2011c), 8987 (2006c). The District of Kitimat is located at the head of Douglas Channel, 110 km east of Prince Rupert. Named for the nearby KITAMAAT ("people of the snow") by the Hudson’s Bay Company around 1837, its modern founding occurred in the early 1950s.
Although Kitimat was developed by Alcan for a single industrial purpose, it is perhaps unique in that consideration was given to ultimate diversification. Planning provided a basis for this potential future growth and from the beginning the residents managed their own affairs.
The Alcan aluminum smelter was located at the head of the Douglas Channel because it provided a deepwater port with access to world markets; the alluvial plain of the Kitimat River provided flat land for the smelter and town. The massive hydroelectric power required for the smelting of aluminum was provided by a dam on the Nechako River, which diverted its flow westward through a tunnel to a gigantic generating station at Kemano.
Although one of the great metallurgical plants in the world, Alcan is no longer the only employer. The Eurocan Pulp and Paper Co complex plays a secondary role. The Ocelot Chemicals (now Methanex Corp) methanol plant pioneered petrochemical activities, and an ammonia plant was added in 1986. Kitimat is also a transshipment point for methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) produced in Edmonton, Alberta.