Prince Rupert lies at the heart of the traditional territory of the Tsimshian First Nation. This territory is bordered by the traditional lands of the Gitxsan, Nisga'a, Haida and Heiltsuk people, many of whom today make their home in Prince Rupert as well as in their traditional communities along the coast. For countless generations, these communities created the familiar line of post-and-beam cedar houses along the forest's edge in sheltered bays, with magnificent sea-going canoes drawn up on the beach, and tall totem poles telling the story of each house and family. Though there are similarities between the nations, each spoke a distinct language and led a unique way of life. The classic art of the Northwest Coast cultures, today famous around the world, reflected the beliefs of the first people in the interconnectedness of all things, and the strength of a family hierarchy. The Northwest Coast of America came to European attention during the Age of Discovery, when Spain, England and Russia all competed to expand their influence on the Pacific coast. But it was trade that ultimately brought Europeans into direct and lasting contact with the First Nations here. At first, British and American ships came in search of the prized sea otter pelts, and then the Hudson's Bay Company expanded their territory to include permanent trading posts. The fur trade led the newcomers to see that the real wealth here was salmon, the bounty of the sea that formed the foundation of the First Nations lifestyles. By the end of the 19th century, dozens of cannery villages were scattered throughout this area to take advantage of the rich salmon runs of the Skeena and Nass rivers. The selection of Kaien Island as the terminus of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad, and the arrival of the first surveyors on the future site of Prince Rupert in 1906, heralded the beginning of today's city. During the Second World War, Prince Rupertís population tripled as an estimated 150,000 Canadian and American troops passed through Prince Rupert. Barracks, wartime housing and recreational halls were built during the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Canadian Air Force constructed a base in Seal Cove and hospital, while the United States poured thousands of dollars into the development of the Prince Rupert waterfront. Between 1942 and 1945, Prince Rupert was used as a sub-port of embarkation to Seattle. Thousands of tons of bombs and high explosives were shipped out of Prince Rupert's ocean dock and from nearby Port Edward's huge horseshoe wharf. In fact, it was rumored that the atomic bomb was shipped through this route.