Ports & Harbors

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Ports & Harbors, Pacific Northwest

Port Hardy, Ports & Harbors
Port Hardy, Photo By Bud Logan

The Pacific Northwest has many Ports & Harbors, some are small like Winter Harbor while others are huge like the Victoria or Nanaimo harbors, some of these are managed well with environmental standards that are amazing while some others are disasters in regards to these issues.

The Pacific Northwest has for the past 100 yrs been driven by a resource-based economy but over the past few years, we have seen it begin to change into a tourist-based economy. With this change, we are seeing some of these ports being cleaned up and returned more to their natural states, there is still industry here but where-ever it’s possible, the environment has been getting a hand. Most of this work has and is being taken on by non-profit groups manned by volunteers. I tip my hat to these folks, they are making a difference.

Zebellos Harbor, Ports & Harbors
Zeballos Harbor, Photo By Bud Logan

Many of these ports are situated in river estuaries, so the issues are quite broad, everything from sewage outflows to salmon rearing areas. Log dumps have left so much debris on the bottom of some of these ports and harbors and the only way to bring life back is to clean this up. This is a daunting job with many problems associated with the cure.

The David Suzuki Foundation has been creating videos about rewilding the Vancouver area, these videos are quite inspiring. There are many volunteer groups out there doing just that. To see these streams that had become dead from industrial damage being brought back to life is a pretty awesome thing. It pleases me to see this drive to help nature take back where it can. Driven by volunteers and funded by donations, these are projects that we can all get behind.

Coal Harbor
Coal Harbor, photo by Bud Logan

Coal Harbor was used as a coal mining port, then a military base during the second world war, then a whaling station, then back to mining, only this time copper, now it is a jumping off point for Quatsino sound and all the wonders of the North Island.

On any given day, you can see plenty of fish boats, tour boats, canoes and kayaks coming and going from the harbor. This a great place to put in your kayaks or canoes to head out on a sea adventure, Quatsino sound offers so much for eco-tourist, magical and hidden bays, great wildlife viewing, incredible bird life, and very untouched wilderness. Coal Harbor is a perfect jumping off point for adventure.

The name Coal Harbor tells you about how this village got started. Coal brought the Northwest Coal Company to the shores of Stephens Bay in 1883. Coal seams seemed very promising but the coal proved to be poor quality and the mine died out in the early years of the 1900s, by 1907 there was only a caretaker left to watch the mine. There are rumors about this caretaker that still are talked about to this day, this fellows name was John Sharp….or was it. They say he was really a member of the Jesse James Gang, hiding out in Coal Harbor. In 1907, two strangers came to town and shot John Sharp down, makes one think.
Coal Harbor
Coal Harbor, photo by Bud Logan

Coal Harbor played a role in coastal defense during the Second World War. The R.C.A.F had a seaplane base and reconnaissance station built in 1940 and it was in operation until just after the war ended in 1945, there was over 250 personnel stationed in the community. The base used long-range flying boats to patrol up and down the coast. When the war ended in 1945, the base closed, leaving behind empty buildings and quiet streets.

Though mining and whaling no longer happen here, the Harbor is still a sustaining community of about 175 people. Logging still happens here and opportunities for outdoor recreation include guided fishing, kayak trips, and wildlife viewing. Coal Harbor is accessible from Port Hardy on the coal harbor road, this road is now paved. In front of the moby dick store, you will see the jawbones of a blue whale, this is the largest of the whale family. The bones are a reminder of this community’s whaling past. From 1947 to 1967, Coal Harbor was the site of a commercial whaling community, closing by 1967. Today, the whales are again bringing in much-needed money into the economies of the north island, this time as objects to be photographed during whale watching tours. Tours head out from the harbor and the whales are back in big numbers now.

Port Alberni
Port Alberni, Photo By Bud Logan
Port Alberni is located at the head of Alberni Inlet on Vancouver Island. This is the jumping off spot for west coast adventures, from here you can reach Tofino, Ucluelet, Bamfield, Lake Cowichan, and Port Renfrew as well as the all the wilderness in between these communities. This is premier eco-tourist territory, it’s the best the island has.

Port Alberni’s economy has traditionally run on fishing and logging, but today it is tourism, it is located at the head of Vancouver Islands longest inlet, it is the gateway to the central west coast of Vancouver Island including the Pacific Rim National Park, Barkley Sound, and Clayoquot Sound, its a great place to stay and head out on day-trips. It is surrounded by pristine wilderness, huge first growth forests and wild rivers, the forests are filled with wildlife and giant trees, the rivers, lakes, and sea are filled with fish and the bird life is incredible.

Port Alberni
Port Alberni, Photo By Bud Logan
Port Alberni is definitely one of the major hubs for fishing on central Vancouver Island and the harbor shops and boat rental outfits are the best places for information on fishing locally in both saltwater and freshwater. The people of Port Alberni make the claim of being the salmon fishing capital of the world, Campbell River makes the same claim…so let’s just say that Vancouver Island is the salmon fishing capital of the world.

There are many things to do here, there is a deep sea port where you can get on a west freighter and take a trip along the coast as it makes deliveries and picks up passengers, a truly great trip. So come on for a visit, you won’t regret it and remember to bring your camera.

Port Renfrew
Port Renfrew, Photo By Bud Logan
Port Renfrew and its harbor are located at the end of Highway 14 on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, it is known as the jewel of the West Coast, and I must admit, it sure is pretty. Port Renfrew is situated on the Port San Juan inlet, back in 1895, the postal address was the Port San Juan post, the problem with this is that mail quite often was sent to the San Juan Islands Post Office instead. So the settlers renamed their post office Port Renfrew in 1895. Today’s population is 190.

Port Renfrew has it all, protected harbors, incredible wildlife viewing, big beaches, raging rivers, peaceful lakes, camping, west coast hiking, wild wilderness, winter surfing, and some of the biggest trees in the world. All wrapped up in the most beautiful place on our planet.

Port Renfrew
Port Renfrew, Photo By Bud Logan
Port Renfrew is at the trailhead for both the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail and the wild West Coast Trail, a trail built in 1907 to allow rescuers to get to areas along the coast and save sailors shipwrecked on the rugged coastline. Both routes are incredibly rough trails that at most times can be very muddy, you have to be in good condition and well equipped to make it through.

Port Renfrew has had an economy based on fishing and forestry but now it is tourism that drives the economy and this will only grow.

Take an easy stroll to Botanical Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, and discover fascinating tidal pools rich in marine life, The beach is covered in tide pools filled with all kinds of sea life, almost like jewel boxes.

The giant San Juan Sitka spruce growing at the San Juan Bridge Recreation Site is Canada’s largest Sitka Spruce tree, based on mass, with a circumference of 11.6 m and a height of 62.5 ms. Although the Carmanah Giant is almost 30 m taller and the big Sitka Spruce on Brookes Peninsula is of greater circumference, the San Juan Sitka Spruce tree contains more wood than the others. A short drive north of Port Renfrew stands the red creek fir, one of the largest Douglas fir trees in Canada. It has survived all kinds of threats and weathered many storms, it is still going strong. It measures over 13 m in circumference and is over 80 m in height, but it was over 100 m in height before its top broke off.

You can see black bears in the early spring on some of the beaches, particularly around China Beach and Mystic Beach. Bears are unpredictable creatures, especially when they emerge hungry from winter their winter dens. You can also see deer, elk, cougars, wolves, otters, seals, several types of whales and sea lions. The seabirds are everywhere and songbirds sing in every tree. Look in the big trees for eagles, hawks, and owls.

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