Bella Bella, British Columbia
Bella Bella from the water
|Regional district||Central Coast|
|Area codes||250, 778|
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 community is on Lama Passage, part of the Inside Passage – a transportation route linking the area, and northern British Columbia as well as Alaska for marine vessels carrying cargo, passengers and recreational boaters from the south coast.
...to the Heiltsuk, Bella Bella forms a national capital of sorts to an unceded traditional territory of 16,658 square kilometres.
Founded between 1897 and 1903, Bella Bella is located on Campbell Island.
Originally styled New Bella Bella to distinguish it from "Bella Bella", 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.
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. By 1903 the new town was fairly well established. The mission was complete with hospital, mission house and school which doubled as church.
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.
"The one-room school stood in a clearing beside the church, at the fringe of the dense bush that stubbornly tried to reclaim the half-mile stretch of territory occupied by the village."
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.
By 1903 New Bella Bella, now just known Bella Bella (aka Waglisla) was fairly well established following the move from McLoughlin Bay.
Canadian Royal Commission known as the McKenna-McBride Commission visits Bella Bella.
1975 The Canadian National Film Board (NFB) documentary "Bella Bella"
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 ongoing renaissance in Northwest Coast Ocean-going canoes. Some 25 canoes from First Nations up and down the coast paddled to Bella Bella for a week-long cultural sharing event.
1997 R. v. Gladstone
The Supreme Court of Canada recognized the Heiltsuk have a pre-existing Aboriginal right to Herring that entails a commercial component.
2014 'Qatuwas Canoe Festival
A second 'Qatuwas festival was held in Bella Bella in 2014.
2015 Herring Crisis
The 2015 herring season saw a crisis erupt over a long-simmering dispute between the Heiltsuk and Canada (DFO). Citing concern for the stocks and Heiltsuk rights, as well as taking issue with DFO predictive models, the Heiltsuk occupied the local DFO office for 4 days. The crisis abated when the remainder of the commercial herring fleet departed and the Heiltsuk and Canada agreed to discuss the next season's management.
June 30, 2015 Potlatch in Bella Bella to ratify the Heiltsuk-Haida Peace treaty, a formal agreement that builds on the peace treaty of 1852 that ended the war between the two Nations.
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.
- Bella Bella (Campbell Island) Airport
- Fort McLoughlin
- Heiltsuk Nation
- List of reduplicated place names
- Old Bella Bella
- R v Gladstone
- Tribal Canoe Journeys
- Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2017-02-08). "Census Profile, 2016 Census - Bella Bella 1, Aboriginal reserve [Census subdivision], British Columbia and British Columbia [Province]". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
- Wood, Chris. "Coastal People's Past Powers Their Political Future". The Tyee. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Black, Martha (1997). Bella Bella: A Season of Heiltsuk Art. Toronto/Vancouver/Seattle: Royal Ontario Museum/Douglas & McIntyre/University of Washington Press. pp. 8–12. ISBN 1-55054-556-6.
- "Bella Bella (community)". BC Geographical Names.
- Large, R. Geddes (1968). Drums and Scalpel: From Native Healer to Physician on the North Pacific Coast. Vancouver: Mitchell Press Limited. p. 44.
- McKervill, Hugh W. (1964). Darby of Bella Bella (second ed.). Toronto: The Ryerson Press. p. 42.
- Large, R. Geddes (1968). Drums and Scalpel: From Native Healers to Physicians on the North Pacific Coast. Vancouver: Mitchell Press Limited. p. 44.
- 'Bella Bella" NFB film by Barbara Greene. 1975
- Neel, David (1995). The Great Canoes. University of Washington Press.
- Hume, Mark. "Heiltsuk First Nation claims victory over disputed Herring Fishery". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
- Erwin, Ryan Heiltsuk and Haida Nations finalize Peace Treaty. Global News. 30 June 2015.http://globalnews.ca/news/2085293/heiltsuk-and-haida-nations-finalize-peace-treaty/ accessed March 29, 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bella Bella.|
- A travelogue from a visit to Bella Bella
- A 1975 documentary about Bella Bella from the National Film Board of Canada website
- Heiltsuk Tribal Council Website
- Bella Bella Community School Website