Houston, British Columbia

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District municipality
District of Houston[1]
Motto(s): Where the welcome is warm and the wilderness beckons
Coordinates: 54°23′51″N 126°38′31″W / 54.39750°N 126.64194°W / 54.39750; -126.64194
Country  Canada
Province  British Columbia
Region Bulkley Valley
Regional district Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako
Incorporated 1957
 • Mayor Shane Brienen
 • Total 72.94 km2 (28.16 sq mi)
Elevation 610 m (2,000 ft)
Population (2016)
 • Total 2,993
 • Density 41.0/km2 (106/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
Area code(s) 250 / 778 / 236
Highways Hwy 16 (TCH) Trans-Canada Highway
Website District of Houston

Houston /ˈhjuːstən/ is a forestry, mining and tourism town in the Bulkley Valley of the Northern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Its urban population is approximately 3600 people, with approximately 2000 in the surrounding rural area. It is known as the "steelhead capital" and it has the world's largest fly fishing rod. Houston's tourism industry is largely based on eco-tourism and Steelhead Park, situated along Highway 16.


The Morice area was first charted by amateur historian, cartographer and geologist, Reverend Adrien-Gabriel Morice (1859-1938) known to Northern British Columbian locals as "Father Morice." In 1880, Morice came to British Columbia as a Catholic missionary to the native people and was one of the first 'white men' to see most of the area. Morice wrote, The History of the Northern Interior of British Columbia (formerly New Caledonia) [1660 to 1880]. The Indigenous people* were initially known as Carrier Indians, but today are more commonly referred to as the Wet'suwet'en (sometimes spelled Wit'suwit'en) and speak a language commonly referred to as Dene or Athapaskan. The Morice River is called "Wet-zuhn-kwa" by the Wet'suwet'en people because of the bluish-green color of the water.

Wet-zuhn-kwa produces fresh water species like Rainbow Trout, Cut-Throat Trout, and Dolly Varden (Bull Trout). Pacific Salmon species include Spring salmon (A.K.A. Chinook/King), Sockeye salmon, Pink salmon (A.K.A. Humpies or Humpbacks), Coho salmon, and Steelhead salmon.

The area is also rich in wildlife as it is not uncommon to spot moose, deer, black bear, grizzly bear, cougars and so on. Nanika River feeds Morice Lake and produces sockeye salmon. In the 1970s, the proposed Kemano Completion project threatened to dam Nanika River. The project was eventually shelved. Morice River is a tributary of the Skeena River system, which is the second-largest system in BC that enters the Pacific Ocean at Prince Rupert, B.C.

*A comment on terminology: In 2018, the term "Indigenous" has emerged as a preferential term by many people in Canada. Other terms used historically include Aboriginal, First Nations, First Peoples, Indian, Natives, Native Indian, etc. These terms were imposed by newcomers in the colonization era and Canada's original people felt that the labels were offensive. The imposed terms also have legal aspects as they were often written into legislation like the Indian Act of 1876. In more recent years, there has been a spike in the emergence of traditional names and terminology. On a side note and worthy of mentioning, is that many names in Canada and U.S.A reflect Indigenous names. In the Houston region, one example is Takyzie, which is a local term for trout.


West of Houston are Telkwa, British Columbia (49 km.), Smithers, British Columbia (66), Moricetown, British Columbia (97), Old Hazelton, British Columbia, New Hazelton, British Columbia (130), Terrace, British Columbia (269), and Prince Rupert, British Columbia (413 km.). East of Houston are Topley, British Columbia (30 km.), Granisle, British Columbia (79), Burns Lake, British Columbia (81), Fraser Lake, British Columbia (150), and Prince George, British Columbia (304 km.).

  • Location: latitude-54.39635,longitude-126.665497 [1]
  • Time zone: Pacific Standard Time

Houston is located near the confluence of the Bulkley River and Morice River approximately 65 km (40 mi) south of Smithers along Highway 16. Buck Creek also joins the Bulkley River near the community by the local mall. Historically, Buck creek formed a delta where most of the downtown is located. The delta was channeled and dyked which probably led to the downfall and destruction of important, rearing habitat of young salmon produced in that stream.

The area is in a rainshadow of the Coast Mountains, however due to being dominated by a low pressure region, Houston receives a mid-range volume of precipitation annually.

Morice Lake is located 80 km (50 mi) south along the Morice River Forest Service Road (FSR). Nestled into the Coast Mountains, many Houstonites use this area for recreational camping and fishing.

Nearby communities:

  • Barrett
  • Buck Flats
  • Burns Lake
  • Decker Lake
  • Duncan Lake (A.K.A. Broman Lake)
  • Endako
  • Forestdale
  • Fort Babine
  • Fort Fraser
  • Francois Lake
  • Fraser Lake
  • Granisle
  • Grassy Plains
  • Moricetown
  • Noralee
  • Old Fort
  • Palling
  • Perow
  • Quick
  • Rose Lake
  • Round Lake
  • Smithers
  • Southbank
  • Telkwa
  • Topley
  • Topley Landing
  • Walcott


Houston has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) with mild summers and cold winters. Houston is not as prone to extreme temperature record swings as some other nearby areas, but still retains sizeable seasonal differences and has a temperature amplitude of 76 °C (137 °F). Being in a rain shadow of the coastal mountains, Houston has a quite dry climate with relatively uniform precipitation year round. Annual snowfall is still quite high due to the five-month period with means below freezing.


Via Rail's Jasper – Prince Rupert train calls at the Houston railway station several times per week.



  • The Houston Hikers' Society provides website where trail information, maps, photos and driving directions can be accessed.
  • The Morice Mountain Nordic Ski Club is a volunteer non-profit society. The MMNSC is responsible for all developments and trail grooming as well as maintenance of the facilities, and for trail users' fee collections. The ski trails are situated 8 km (5 mi) south of Houston on Buck Flats Road. Skiing enthusiasts are able to explore over 45 kilometres (28 mi) of challenging and beginner trails covering a rolling topography around Silverthorne Lake
  • Many locals frequent the Nanika-Kidprice Lakes Basin canoe route. This basin lies on the eastern slope of the Coastal Mountain Range and forms the upper watershed of the Morice-Bulkley rivers. The basin area is 920 meters (3,018 ft) above sea level and is surrounded by glaciated and snow-capped peaks that rise as high as 2,400 meters (7,870 ft). The 30 km (19 mi) route takes about three or four days to complete. There is approximately 4 km (2 mi) of portages between three lakes.
  • The recently constructed Houston Leisure Facility holds a pool, hot-tub, sauna and fitness gym.
  • Houston has a nine-hole golf course


Houston is located in School District 54 Bulkley Valley and has three public schools and one privately run Christian denominational school.

Elementary schools:

Secondary Schools:

The Houston Christian School teaches from K-12.


  • The Bulkley is a small stream running through Houston and the Morice River join just west of Houston. At the point of their joining they become the Bulkley River, not the Morice despite the fact the Morice is larger. This was done by Poudrier, a government cartographer who, it is rumoured, never saw the region.
  • The Bulkley is named for Colonel Charles S. Bulkley, one of the surveyors constructing the telegraph line through the Pleasant Valley. This was in the late 1800s.
  • Houston is named in honour of the pioneer newspaperman John Houston.[3]
  • Jamie Baxter Park was named after a boy that disappeared in the forest while playing in the Buck Flats area in the late 1970s. It was fall-time and temperatures at night dipped below 0 and the boy eventually lost his life.
  • In 1983, a huge forest-fire that started at Parrot Lakes threatened the community of Houston when a campfire escaped from 2 tourists from Switzerland. The fire became known as the "Swiss Fire" and burned notable landmarks like Rose Ranch and Morice Mountain.
  • In the post World War 2 era, many settlers in the region between Prince George and Prince Rupert arrived as a result of the Frontier Apostle movement.


"British Columbia Regional Districts, Municipalities, Corporate Name, Date of Incorporation and Postal Address" (XLS). British Columbia Ministry of Communities, Sport and Cultural Development. Retrieved November 2, 2014. "Calculation Information for 1981 to 2010 Canadian Normals Data". Environment Canada. Retrieved July 9, 2013. http://www.houston.ca/siteengine/activepage.asp?PageID=19&bhcp=1


  1. ^ "British Columbia Regional Districts, Municipalities, Corporate Name, Date of Incorporation and Postal Address" (XLS). British Columbia Ministry of Communities, Sport and Cultural Development. Archived from the original on July 13, 2014. Retrieved November 2, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Calculation Information for 1981 to 2010 Canadian Normals Data". Environment Canada. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ http://www.houston.ca/siteengine/activepage.asp?PageID=19&bhcp=1

Smith, Elnora. C. (1971). Marks On The Forest Floor - A Story Of Houston, British Columbia. Houston British Columbia: Houston Centennial '71 Committee.

Hinzmann, Christine. Frontier Apostolate marks 60th anniversary, Prince George Citizen, August 18, 2016 [2]

North Coast Review, Frontier Apostles the focus of Vancouver Sun article (2012)[3]

The Kerryman, Frontier Apostle who loved travel and literature

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°23′55.7″N 126°38′37.8″W / 54.398806°N 126.643833°W / 54.398806; -126.643833