One of the most exciting aspects of a visit to Port Hardy is the prevalence of rich native culture and heritage. Port Hardy is known for its First Nations shops and art galleries, particularly on Market Street which offer beautiful hand-crafted treasures. Several of these artists regularly invite visitors into their workshops as they create paintings, jewellery, masks and other pieces. Guests can see for themselves how native art is made today, combining modern techniques with traditional methods used for thousands of years.
There are local aboriginal tribes, including the Quatsino First Nation,Gwa'Sala-'Nakwaxda'xw First Nation and the Kwakiutl First Nation. The First Nations people first settled the area more than 8,000 years ago, as evident by the historic totem poles, wood carved signs and outdoor murals nearly everywhere you go.
Fort Rupert, a short distance from the town of Port Hardy, is also home to several totems and a traditional native big house. Look for petroglyphs on the sandstone formations near the old site of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort. Destroyed by fire in 1890, all that remains of the once-prominent building is a jagged chimney stack. For more information on Fort Rupert, as well as the rich native history of the Kwakwaka'wakw First Nations, the Port Hardy Museum offers visitors a step back in time and look at the diverse culture, history and artifacts of this aboriginal population.