Bella Bella, British Columbia

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Not to be confused with Bella Coola, British Columbia.
Bella Bella
Bella Bella from the water
Bella Bella from the water
Nickname(s): The Rock
Bella Bella is located in British Columbia
Bella Bella
Bella Bella
Location of Bella Bella in British Columbia
Coordinates: 52°09′43″N 128°08′42″W / 52.16194°N 128.14500°W / 52.16194; -128.14500Coordinates: 52°09′43″N 128°08′42″W / 52.16194°N 128.14500°W / 52.16194; -128.14500
Country  Canada
Province  British Columbia
Area code(s) 250, 778
Bella Bella

Bella Bella, also known as Waglisla, is the home of the Heiltsuk and is an unincorporated community and Indian Reserve community located within Bella Bella Indian Reserve No. 1 on the east coast of Campbell Island in the Central Coast region of British Columbia, Canada. Bella Bella is located 98 nautical miles (181 km) north of Port Hardy, on Vancouver Island, and 78 nautical miles (144 km) west of Bella Coola. the Heiltsuk, Bella Bella forms a national capital of sorts to an unceded traditional territory of 16,658 square kilometres.[1]

Originally styled New Bella Bella to distinguish it from "Bella Bella", which was on Denny Island at the time, the community's official post office name for some time was Waglisla, meaning "river on the beach" in the Heiltsuk language. Old Bella Bella, the Heiltsuk village site that is located south of the current village was known as Bella Bella. As it grew, a post office was located in the store. When the Heiltsuk relocated their settlement to the north, the post office, and the name Bella Bella, moved - first to the store in the BC Packers Cannery, then to the village of Shearwater. The post office name was retained while moving location several times. This is a source of confusion and the reason 'Bella Bella' sometimes appears on Denny Island rather than Campbell Island on some Provincial maps.

The Hudson's Bay Company's Fort McLoughlin was near the same location, which is on McLoughlin Bay.[2]

With a population of 1,400, Bella Bella is the largest community to be found on the Central Coast north of Queen Charlotte Strait. It is home to the Heiltsuk First Nation. Like many small communities on the coast, such as nearby Ocean Falls, Bella Bella has had a precarious and isolated existence. The closing of coastal cannery towns and decreased need for coastal shipping reduced the importance of Bella Bella's port.

However, the resumption of ferry services by BC Ferries and the introduction of an air link from Vancouver via Port Hardy by Pacific Coastal Airlines have revived Bella Bella. There are scheduled flights from Bella Bella (Campbell Island) Airport onward to Klemtu and Ocean Falls. Services in Bella Bella include a large general store, the Bella Bella Community School, Alexa's restaurant, the Koeye Cafe, the Thistalalh Memorial Library, an RCMP police station (with a circuit court every 1.5 months), the Bella Bella Medical Clinic, staffed by 3 physicians and a Nurse Practitioner, and R.W. Large Memorial Hospital and its pharmacy. The CIBC bank branch closed in 2007.

The village of Bella Bella was previously known as Waglisla to the Canadian Postal Service; the postal address changed to Bella Bella (V0T 1Z0) in October 2007.


Bella Bella is a Heiltsuk village situated on Campbell Island, British Columbia. Today Bella Bella is the main Heiltsuk community within Heiltsuk traditional territory. The village was initially located at McLoughlin Bay, south of the current location but moved between 1898 and the early 19th Century to the present site. Heiltsuk oral history tells of a dispute with the store owner at the original town. The store owner had acquired the land that had been the old HBC fort and would not allow the community to expand on 'his' land - prompting the entire community to abandon the site and move to a larger site - the present location of the village.

During the early period Bella Bella was composed of relatively new European-style houses and a boardwalk. Methodist Missionaries played a significant role during this period, functioning as colonial agents, magistrates, ministers, as well as medical doctors. A Missionary Hospital was established, as well as a church and school. The current hospital in Bella Bella evolved from this early missionary hospital.

1993 'Qatuwas Canoe Festival In 1993 the Heiltsuk hosted an ocean-going canoe festival at Bella Bella. Called 'Qatuwas - the event was an important milestone in the on-going renaissance in Northwest Coast Ocean-going canoes.[3] Some 25 canoes from First Nations up and down the coast paddled to Bella Bella for a week-long cultural sharing event.

2014 'Qatuwas Canoe Festival A second 'Qatuwas festival was held in Bella Bella in 2014.

Confusion over the name and location of 'Bella Bella' The origin of the name Bella Bella has several stories. It originally was associated with the Heiltsuk people and the community of Heiltsuk people that developed where the Hudson Bay Company built Fort McLoughlin.

Fort McLoughlin operated between 1832 and 1842. When the fort was closed, the village remained. At some point a white trader acquired 'legal' title to the land that the fort had occupied. This trader operated a store for some time on the site during the late 1800s. His store incorporated a postal service - using the name Bella Bella. When the Heiltsuk relocated to the current site of Bella Bella - the store went out of business and the postal operation was moved across the channel to the BC Packers cannery site. Eventually this also closed and the postal service was moved to the small non-Aboriginal community of Shearwater. When the Heiltsuk began operating a postal service in their community - the name Bella Bella was not available - so the alternate name - Waglisla was used.

After several years of effort - the Heiltsuk were able to have the name Bella Bella returned to the postal service in the community. The name was changed in 2007.

As a result of this history - the name Bella Bella can be seen in four different locations in the Central Coast maps - depending on when they were created and how up to date they are.


The 13-million-year-old mafic dike swarms in the Bella Bella area were formed by the Anahim hotspot when this part of North America was directly overhead. The dikes are believed to mark the first arrival of the hotspot, although it is now located in central British Columbia at Nazko Cone.

A 6.1M earthquake occurred in this vicinity early morning 4/24/2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wood, Chris. "Coastal People's Past Powers Their Political Future". The Tyee. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Bella Bella (community)". BC Geographical Names. 
  3. ^ Neel, David (1995). The Great Canoes. University of Washington Press. 

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