My Haida Gwaii Adventure! After several months in Whistler, British Columbia, a province of Canada. Where i was working as a laborer for a building company
I decided to do a Whitewater Rafting guides course with a rafting company. However that is another story that I will tell in future posts. I decided to head up to the Queen Charlotte Islands. These beautiful islands are home to the Haida indigenous peoples. So my adventure began. I took the BC Ferry from Tsawwassen in Vancouver. It was a pleasant one and a half hour trip to Swartz Bay Victoria. Victoria is the Capital city of British Columbia. Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. After spending a few hours wandering around Victoria, it was time for me to head off to my destination. My first destination was Port Hardy, the stepping off point to the Queen Charlotte Islands. Since I was on a budget I decided to hitch a ride to Port Hardy. So with backpack on I hit the road. I made up a sign which read ‘Aussie to Port Hardy’. My sign soon reaped a reward as within 15 minutes I was on my way. My ride was a carpenters apprentice in his Toyota pick-up truck. Learn More!
Hitching a Ride with a Haida Gwaii Native We chatted about Australia. He was thinking of going there for a working holiday when he finished his time. He also told me that he was part Haida native. He gave me a lot of advice as to where to go on the Islands and what to see. He also informed ,me that his people call the islands Haida Gwai, which literally means the land of the Haida. It was a six hour long journey and we swapped stories about each others home country. We finally arrived at Port Hardy and it was well into the night. He offered me a bed for the night, but I declined. I knew he lived with his parents and it would be embarrassing for me to just lumber up at this time of the night. I thanked him and we swapped addresses. He dropped me at a small hotel that had a vacant sign and he then went on his way.
The next morning I headed off to the harbor at bear cove. I then boarded the ferry to Prince Rupert. The ferry ride is about 16 hours to Prince Rupert, with a stop over at Bella Bella. The inside passage is a magnificent journey. Passing small villages with their coloured roofs. Reds, yellows,greens and blues. Sometimes people waving at the ferry. The inside passage is a wonderful experience. There were whales breaching and orcas swimming in pods of four and five. All in all well worth the rather expensive costs. Finally I arrived at Prince Rupert and since it was late I had to wait till morning to go to Haida Gwai.
There is a daily ferry service between Prince Rupert across the Hecate Strait to Skidegate. Reading the tourist brochure on Haida Gwai I discovered it was only renamed in December 2009.
Skidegate is a Haida community. Located on the southeast coast of Graham Island, the largest island in the archipelago.
About 150 islands make up the Haida Gwai Archipelago. One of the most magnificent and diverse landscapes in the world. Learn More!
My next destination was the community of Tlell the gateway to the Naikoon Provincal Park. My intention was to camp, there for a few days. I picked up a few supplies at the local store and after asking for directions I headed off.
Again I was in a hitchhiking mood. Walking along the road I heard what sounded like a lawn mower coming along in my direction. Turning around I saw that it was an old Honda two seater car. It stopped beside me and rather an odd looking lady stuck her head out of the window and asked me where I was going. I am heading to Tlell and then to the Naikoon Provincal Park. What are you going to do there she asked. Camping I replied. Well you had better come with me then, she replied. I live there. After the usual exchange of places of birth and country of residence. We then puttered along in verbal silence, mainly because of the noise from the Honda car.
My Tlell Adventure Begins.
Turned out she worked as a part time nurse in the hospital in Queen Charlotte the main village on the island. After a few Kilometers we came to a clearing where she parked the ‘lawn mower’. Instructing me to carry my backpack and help with her shopping. We started walking into what looked like a forest out of a horror movie. Dangling grandfather whiskers, vines and mossy trees. We trod a very narrow but well worn path through this quagmire of greenery. Every where there stood magnificent Sitka spruce trees along with ancient cedar trees.
After a while I was getting a little worried. Where was this eccentric elderly lady taking me on my Tlell Adventure? Am I to forever disappear into a mossy grave?
All of a sudden we came to a large clearing in the middle of the forest and what did I see! a house that looked like a wooden ship with a small cabin beside it. ”Well here we are” she said.” “you can stay here one night but only one night laddie. ” I am not accustomed to company and don’t particularly enjoy it” she said. ” yes thanks, I’ll be gone tomorrow” I replied with conviction. Learn More!
I was feeling quite excited. Here I was on an ancient Island in a remote part of British Columbia Canada, ready to spent the night in a fairy tale forest with a very extraordinary woman. I just had to find out more,with her living in the middle of the forest alone I knew that there had to be a story here. We went inside and she offered me a cup of tea with honey.
She then said that she will cook us dinner soon, hoping that I did not eat meat as all she had was vegetables and potatoes. After dinner and small talk. She told me her story. Turned out she fell in love with a ships captain and they decided to come to the islands and live. He was also a ship wright and he build the house in the shape of a ship, a Wilderness Boat House using the local cedar wood. She also said that after her husband finished the house. They came home one day to find that doors smashed, windows broken and Bears, everywhere.
Bears destroy wilderness boat house
Apparently the Captain had inadvertently built the house on a Bear trail. The bears viewed that house as an obstacle so they attempted to move it out of their way. Therefore her husband built a little cabin on the side. Inside it was a large terracotta pot full of honey and it was this trick that kept the bears away from the house. She also had a vegetable garden within a vegetable garden. The outside garden was for the animals while the inside garden was for her. From here on the story enters a sad period. Unfortunately for Helen the call of the Sirens,the sound of waves beating against the hull of a ship and the smell of the ocean. Became just too much for the Captain, her husband. He had to go to sea again. He told her that he would be gone only a few weeks and he would be back, that was twenty years ago and her Captain never returned. Next day I said goodbye to my eccentric forest lady, what a beautiful soul she was. The Captain was a fool.