Gilford Island

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Coastal Islands, Pacific Northwest

Gilford Island
Gwayasdums. Gilford Island. Photo Courtesy of Sharlote Thompson

Gilford Island is 388 sq km in size and is located between Vancouver Island and the entrance to Knights Inlet. It is part of the Broughton Archipelago. The Kwakiutl have inhabited the island for thousands of years. Logging on the island began in the 1880s and is still being done today. The interior of the island is one large clear cut.

Gilford Island
Gilford Island, Gwayasdums, Gilford Island. Photo Courtesy of Sharlote Thompson

There is still lots of first growth forest along its shores and some great little communities and first peoples villages to visit, places like Echo bay, named because of a bluff that echoes the sounds of waves in the storms that blow through here.

There is evidence that Echo Bay was originally a first peoples village but in more recent history, it was a forest service station. Now there is the Echo Bay Marine Provincial Park there. There is a wharf for boat tie up and fuel and supplies are available at the echo bay resort along with moorage. Other amenities include a postal outlet, grocery store and some gift shops.

A dock and ramp provides access to the day use area. There is no overnight moorage available for vessels of more than 7 meters in length, these vessels must anchor in the cove or use the wharves located at one of the two resorts of echo bay.

Gilford Island
Gilford Island Creek, Photo By Bud Logan

Scott cove is another great little community located just west of Echo Bay, this is a logging camp with a float house community in the cove. I have always liked this spot for its fishing opportunities along with its beauty. A great place to use as a base for fishing, whale watching or just pure relaxation.

Gwayasdums is a village of the Kwakiutl peoples on the west side of Gilford Island in the Johnstone Strait region of the Central Coast, it was called Health bay for a while but all refer to it as Gwayasdums now, it is a great little spot to visit, the village has about 70 people living there, you should take time to visit here when you come to the island. They will make you welcome.

Some old friends of mine are from the village, friends like Rupert Scow, an exceptional carver, here is a bit on Rup. Rupert was born in 1957 in Alert Bay, British Columbia. The Scow family, known as “The people of the Bear” is Kwicksuitaineuk from the village of Gwayasdums on Gilford Island, and takes the Bear and Gwayasdums crest of the Sisiutl, or double headed sea serpent, as family crests.

Gilford Island
Scott Cove, Gilford Island, Photo By Bud Logan

Rupert comes from a long line of carvers and respected elders, including his great grandfather Mungo Martin and great grandfather Chief Johnny Scow. This wealth of culture instilled a strong sense of heritage in Rupert and his five brothers, all of whom are exceptional carvers.

He lived his younger years in Campbell River but took it upon himself to learn carving so he moved back to Alert bay and just started going to the carving shed where he learned to work the wood under the watchful eyes of of Wayne Alfred, Vince Shaughnessy, and Stephen Bruce. This was in 1991, he has not stopped carving and creates masks, rattles, bowls, poles and transformation masks.

Rupert now volunteers his time teaching young First Nation carvers in the lower mainland. If you get a chance to meet Rupert, take it up, you will be glad you did.

 

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