Coastal Islands

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Coastal Islands, Pacific Northwest

Quadra Island, Coastal Islands
Quadra Island, Photo By Robert Logan

Off the shores of BC are many Coastal Islands, some are quite small while others are pretty massive. Vancouver Island is the largest, Haida Gwaii is made up of many islands and the smaller ones are very numerous. Some of these Islands have all the amenities of mainland living and yet maintain the slower pace and peaceful way of life that comes from island life. I live on Vancouver Island and it has some large cities, Victoria is the Capital Of BC and is located on the southern end of the island.

Some of the smaller Coastal Islands were settled very early by the Europeans and islands like Quadra were once more populated than the adjoining communities on Vancouver Island. At one time, the residents of Campbell River had to go to Quadra to do their shopping. Now Quadra is quite layed back and the residents travel to Vancouver Island to do their shopping.

Many of these Coastal Islands were pioneered by families that still have descendants living there. Islands like Cortes with many of the settling families still having members located there.

Cormorant Island, Photo By Bud Logan
Cormorant Island, Photo By Bud Logan

Cormorant Island is the home of the North Island’s oldest settlers community, Alert Bay, it was used as a trading center by early settlers of the area. Cormorant Island is quite small, being only 4 kilometers long and measuring roughly 1 kilometer wide at the narrowest point of the island. Alert Bay visitors can enjoy many activities such as whale watching, Eco-tours, kayaking, hiking and biking. Cormorant Island is located off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island and can be reached by a short ferry ride from Port McNeil.

Hardwick Island is directly across the strait from Kelsey Bay. When I was 16 years old, I was employed by Bendickson logging on the Island. The camp was built many years back and was the first logging camp that I worked in. The buildings were very old but bloody awesome….was like stepping back into time. The old school house was still in use but as our union hall, I was the union rep there for awhile. There still was a number of families living on the Island then and the camp was more like a small community than a logging camp. The Bendickson family were a great bunch to work for.

Bendickson Logging Cook shack, Coastal Islands
Bendickson Logging Cook shack

I remember the wash house where we would clean up for supper, when you walked in, there was enamel wash basins hanging on the wall. You would take one to the tap and fill it with water, you then took it to a long counter with round holes cut into the top. you would place the basin into a hole and then do your wash up, then you emptied out your basin and return it to its hanger.

Off the west coast of Vancouver Island is the small community of Yuquot on Nootka Island, Yuquot is also known as Friendly Cove and was the site of the first contact between Europeans and First peoples in British Columbia.

In March 1778, Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy became the first European to set foot on British Columbian soil when he visited Friendly Cove on Nootka Island.

On March 22 1803, while anchored in Nootka Sound, the trading vessel Boston was attacked by Nootka natives, with 25 of her 27 crewmen being massacred. John R. Jewitt and John Thompson, both survivors of the attack, became slaves and were owned by Chief Maquinna. There is a lake close to Yuquot name Jewitt lake, named for John R Jewitt.

Nootka Island, Coastal Islands
Friendly Cove, Nootka Island, Photo By Bud Logan

In the 70s, I worked for Art Mangles out of Plumper Harbor, we were logging further up the island, past friendly cove at the lagoon. We would fly into Plumper Harbor and then take a boat out to our very small 5 man camp. Our shack was pulled up on the beach and was not level, not level at all. We had a wooden tree and an old madill yarder. We were logging across the lagoon. If the tide was low we could walk across to where we were logging and if the tide was high, we would grab a log with a choker and the yarder operator would haul us across.

If the yarder operator was in a mood, he would sometimes stop half ways across and just dunk you in. I liked the days the tide was out best.

There are many Coastal Islands on the BC shores, most have great histories and many have wonderful stories written about them and the various settlers who lived there, long before the settlers arrived, had been used and lived on for thousands of years by our coastal first peoples. Many of them still are occupied today.

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