Coastal Hamlets

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Tourism, Pacific Northwest

Powell River, Coastal Communities, Pacific Northwest
Powell River, Photo By Bud Logan

There are many coastal communities located on the south, central and northern coastal sections of the Pacific Northwest, some of these are small villages while others are cities with all the amenities that can found within large centers. They are all located in one of the most beautiful rain forests in the world.

Prince Rupert, Powell River, and Squamish are a few of the more larger centers, these are cities that come with all the big city lifestyles and then you will find the villages like Bella Coola, Bella Bella, Shearwater, Terrace and so many more. Some of these smaller villages only have a few folks left but they all come with such exciting histories.

Bella Bella, Coastal Communities, Pacific Northwest
Bella Bella, Photo By Robert Logan

Some of these towns and villages have become ghost towns, although they at one time were filled with people, places like Ocean Falls, Blunden Harbor, and many others. These places are great to explore and are filled with stories that can still be seen by using some imagination.

My work as a logger and then as forestry contractor during my younger years, allowed me to travel to many of these communities and to spend some time to get to know the folks who lived there and to hear first hand, their stories of life on the coast. The tales they told were of a life filled with epic adventures of time spent in the logging camps and maybe they were embellished with some half-truths but they still told the tales of people who were a different breed, tough individuals who carved out homes in the wilderness.

So come on and take a journey with me as we travel back to these places to find out how things are today and to hear the stories of the days of old and tales of the men who logged, fished and farmed along our coast.

Alert Bay, Pacific Northwest
Alert Bay, Photo By Bud Logan

Alert Bay is on the sheltered south side of Cormorant Island, just offshore from Port McNeil along the shores of Vancouver Island’s Inside Passage. This area is known for its bird watching, whale watching, and hiking opportunities.

There are about 1300 people here on this tiny Island. The Bay is a quaint little place filled with locally owned shops and restaurants where you can buy local art or dine on some pretty awesome food.

Come stay for a few days at one of the islands great little b&b establishments and hike around the island. There are motels, inns, lodges cabins and hotels for visitors to stay in.

Alert Bay Bighouse, Alert Bay, Pacific Northwest
Alert Bay Bighouse, Photo By Sue Poulsen

Drop into the Visitor Center, it’s just a short walk along the boardwalk from the ferry dock. They will provide you with information brochures. Ask for the Visitor’s Information package, an essential guide to the island. The Visitor Center is open weekdays year-round and on weekends during the summer months.

Bella Bella, Coastal Communities, Pacific Northwest
Bella Bella, Photo By Robert Logan

The Heiltsuk First Nation live in the village of Bella Bella (Waglisla), located about 160 km north of Port Hardy and about 120 km west of Bella Coola. The Heiltsuk traditionally occupied 21000 square km of land and sea on B.C.´s coastal Inside Passage. Bella Bella is the Government name for the community, Waglisla is the largest of the 23 reserves set aside in 1913 for the exclusive use of the Heiltsuk. The village located on Campbell Island is amalgamated from all Heiltsuk tribes who occupied numerous large winter and spring villages and associated campsites spread throughout this traditional territory.

Bella Bella, Coastal Communities, Pacific Northwest
Bella Bella, Campbell Island, Photo By Robert Logan

There are approximately 1500 residents in Waglisla. The primary industries for the Heiltsuk economy are forestry and seasonal fisheries including shellfish, groundfish, herring, salmon and other marine resources. For many decades, Heiltsuk people have had a thriving fishery to rely upon with employment in commercial fishing, fish processing, and a salmon hatchery. Due to dramatic changes in the fishery in the past several years, the entire fishing-based economy is now extremely fragile and threatens this traditional way of life.

There are many artists in the community that do quite nicely with the tourist trade and Eco-tourism is gaining popularity with the great bear forest being the biggest draw. The chance to see a spirit bear is very exciting to these new breed tourists. Whale watching and diving are two other burgeoning industries that are becoming common in the area.

Basketball is easily the most popular recreational pastime in Bella Bella due to its all-year-round playing season following the construction of the new Community Hall. The men and women travel year-round to numerous tournaments along the coast.  The Charles Moody Memorial presents its annual tournament locally every January. Charlie Moody is my wife’s grandfather.

Bella Bella, Coastal Commmunities, Pacific Northwest
Bella Bella, Campbell Island, Photo By Robert Logan

In 1993, My family and l traveled to Waglisla for the Qatuwas, a gathering of the peoples of the canoe. People arrived from as far away as Alaska and California, people arrived by canoe in the thousands. The gathering was 7 days long and each night there was a feast presented by one of the nations gathered there, followed by traditional dances telling stories of days gone by. The nation doing the feast danced all night, sometimes the nights would go until daylight with dancing still happening, it was incredible.

On the last night, at the end of the traditional dancing, a huge dance screen was set up and much music from the hit TV program was there, playing modern dance videos and music, this was for the youth in the village. It was quite surreal as most of these youth were still in their regalia, but now were dancing to modern music and songs. Hundreds of teenagers, in regalia, dancing to the likes of Peter Gabriel and Tom Petty, l will never see something like again.

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