There’s a town in Northern Canada that has sat vacant for decades. I get that this is not something new but what’s strange about this town is that all the power and the lights are still on and have been on since the town was abandoned back in 1982. It was up and abandoned after only being opened for 18 months and everything was just left the way it was from 1982. Some houses are still furnished and if you ever get the chance to see the town at night, you will find many places where the lights are still on, illuminating the empty town. So, what town is this and how did it get to become this way?
The town is called Kitsault and it is in British Columbia, Canada.
In 1979, a man named John Sanders worked for a mining company called Amax Canada. The company offered him a promotion but not the usual kind of promotion. They asked Sanders if he would be interested in managing a large mine they were going to re-open and if he would oversee all the hiring and production. At the time, the price of Molybdenum, which is a metal used to prevent corrosion was booming and the plan was to make Kitsault a place that would attract workers to the remote Northern BC to mine Molybdenum.
John Sanders was on board but he himself agreed that it would not be an easy sell to attract tradesmen, accountants, or engineers to come and work there. At the time the area in mind was very remote and only reachable by plane. There were no roads, no homes and the nearest community was Prince Rupert which was a four-hour drive away. So the solution was to build a $43 million community with everything a modern 1980’s society would want. In 1979 the building began, with ships arriving with building supplies and a road was hastily built through the mountains to link Terrace from 3 ½ hours away. They had Engineers and construction workers come from all over North America due to all the construction that needed to be done. Everything needed to be done at the same time; foundations were laid while the sewers and underground services were installed. Finally, in 1980, the first families started to move in.
Once everything was ready to go, Kitsault was a community with more than 100 single family homes and duplexes and seven apartment building with 202 suites. There was a modern hospital, a mall, restaurants, a bank, a theatre and a post office. All the services were underground and included cable TV and phone lines. There was a pub, a pool, a library, a school and two rec centers. There was also a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant and the cleanest running water in the province. Brad Halkier who was hired right from medical school to be one of the two doctors was quoted as saying:
“The company really just built a town. Like, for everyone. They didn’t just build a medical clinic, but they built schools, and apartment buildings, and a rec centre, a curling rink and swimming pool and shopping mall. This was going to be a 25, 30, 40 year project.”
However, just after families had settled in, something unfortunate happened! The price of Molybdenum collapsed due to the 1982 recession. Amax was then acquired by Phelps Dodge Corp and rather than close one of the large mines in America, Phelps Dodge decided to close Kitsault. By now about 1,200 mine workers had moved there with their families but due to the decision to close the mine, they were all forced to pack up and move. The owners of the mine took an “out of sight, out of mind” approach and made sure that no one was allowed in especially the media, and Kitsault became the town that time forgot.
For almost 25 years the town sat there vacant and shut off from everyone except for the few caretakers the company hired to mow the lawns and keep the heat on in the winter. Then in 2005 American entrepreneur, Krishnan Suthanthiran bought the whole town for 7 million. Krishnan, who is still the owner today was determined to bring people to Kitsault again. Over the years he has spent over $25 million in renovations and hires 20 staff each summer to fix roofs, mow lawns, replace pipes, clean the swimming pools and hot tubs and even stock the hospital with full IV bags.
When he first purchased the town, he said in an interview with globalnews.ca: “This town has been sitting empty for 25 years. We have to have the right project. It has to an economic project that’s self-sustaining. I’ve been working for the last two years on the LNG angle, talked with investors, and this is something that will work.”
As of this writing, the town is still empty.
What I find so interesting about this place is how it just sat there unoccupied for so many years. All the houses, everything, still stand just as they were the day the residents all left. The power has been on for 3 decades but with no one to use it, except for the odd caretaker and staff here and there. After I read about this place, I started thinking about all the people without homes and here are all these homes just sitting here. I understand that it doesn’t just happen like that and it would cost a lot to get the town up and running again but if someone did, wouldn’t it be better to put everything to use than to just have it sit there empty? I know I am just dreaming but what are your thoughts about places like this? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
One thing I have learned that has started there this year is a company called Northern B.C. Adventure Tours is giving out tours of the town of Kitsault. You even get to spend the night in one of the apartments from the apartment complex. It is a cost of $795.00 for 2 days and 1-nights accommodations, meals and transportation.
Even though the media was asked to keep off the grounds, some photographers went in and took some amazing pictures. I wanted to share with you some of those which you will find below.
Thanks again for reading and at the end, I will leave a video that takes a good tour of the community and views of inside the houses and buildings.