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491km (305 miles) N of Port Hardy; 756km (470 miles) W of Prince George

British Columbia's most northerly coastal city, Prince Rupert (pop. 17,000) is a city in transition. For years a major fishing and timber port, it is now turning to tourism to bolster its economy. Although scarcely a fancy place, Prince Rupert has much to offer travelers. Eco-tourism has taken off, sportfishing is excellent in local rivers and in the protected waters of Chatham Sound, and the town is a convenient hub for exploring yet more distant sights of the Pacific Northwest. From here, ferries go north to Alaska, west to the Queen Charlotte Islands, and south to Vancouver Island and Bellingham, Washington.

Prince Rupert exudes a hardworking, good-natured vigor, and the population is a well-integrated mix of First Nations and European-heritage Canadians. You'll experience the palpable sense of being on the northern edge of the world, which gives the city -- situated on a series of rock ledges above the broad expanse of the Pacific -- a sense of purpose and vitality.