After finishing our too-short look around Campbell River on the morning of Day 22 (May 17), we drove north on the Island Highway (BC Highway 19), with no overnight destination in mind. Late in the day, we decided that Telegraph Cove would be perfect – and it was.
The drive from Campbell River to Telegraph Cove is very easy – 203 km (126 mi) on generally good roads. Click on the map to open an interactive version in a new window,
We pulled away from the RV park at about 11:30, and a few minutes later stopped at the Seymour Narrows “viewpoint”. The information panel describes Ripple Rock, the navigation hazard in the Narrows that I’ve mentioned before.
Highway 19 is a really pretty drive, but you’re hemmed in by trees much of the time. Occasional views of snowy mountains are both a treat and a surprise (I hadn’t expected this much snow to still be on the mountains, often quite low). The further north you go, the more logging you see on the slopes.
Just before 1:00, the Eve River Rest Area beckoned us to stop for lunch. A picnic table on a grassy area well off the highway was just what we needed.
A short trail leads down to the Eve River, which, judging by the erosion damage, has seen some pretty serious flooding not too long ago.
Tucker was both very curious and very nervous about what was living in that hole 🙂
At 3:00 we reached the Telegraph Cove Road, and made the decision to make the drive (about 20 km), with only the vaguest idea of what was there.
The Telegraph Cove Road is rather rough for a paved road, and with constant curves and some steep sections, it’s a slow drive.
This dry-land log sort at Beaver Cove, just a couple of k from Telegraph Cove, was very interesting. I’ve never seen one that was complete right from railway to booming grounds, and I’d be back for a better look.
By 3:30 we were set up in the nearly-empty Telegraph Cove RV Park. The sign on the office said that an attendant would be around to collect an unspecified fee either that evening or the next morning.
One of the many joys of early-season RV travel – empty campgrounds!
We went for a walk to see Telegraph Cove proper. I’ll tell you about our wanderings over the next 20 hours or so in the next post.
Choosing where to stay is one of the main factors that determine how much you’ll enjoy a given place. Seeing the city of Campbell River was the reason we were staying 2 nights, so getting an RV park close to everything was important. That made Thunderbird RV Park the easy choice. It was perfect for our needs, and I gave them top marks on my TripAdvisor review.
The drive to the park on paved roads was a nice change, and as soon as we saw the location in person (we had looked at it on Google Maps), our hopes were very high for a quality stay. The entrance is a bit tight, and it’s not really clear which way you need to go once you pull in. I had actually come in the first entrance off Spit Road , which, although it takes you past all the seasonal/permanent residents, is easier to understand.
The 3 staff members in the office were friendly and professional, and check-in was quick and easy. The cost for 2 nights was $80 plus $4 tax.
We got a site in the middle row, which is pull-through, has 30 amp power, and is wide enough for both the RV and Tracker. It’s level, gravel, and has a picnic table. The 2 outside rows also have firepits. I paid $3 for the Premium wifi package, and it was quite fast for email and browsing.
Thunderbird RV Park’s location on Tyee Spit gives great views of Discovery Passage (over/through a chain link fence) from the first row of RV sites, and obstructed views from the middle row. A waterfront walking trail on the opposite side of the road is great for walking dogs, and being close to the float plane base is a bonus for me, as I love watching them.
The bathrooms, located beside the office are clean and modern, but small. There are only 2 toilet stalls in the men’s, and one of the door locks was broken, so really only one if you value privacy.
Firewood is $8 for a wheelbarrow load, and the neat garbage/recycling area allows campers to do a fairly wide range of recycling.
In summary, we were really pleased with our stay at Thunderbird RV Park and wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.
On Days 21 and 22 of the trip, May 16 and 17, we continued our look around Campbell River, which we had taken an immediate liking to.
On the way out to Elk Falls Provincial Park, I had noticed that we passed by Haig-Brown Heritage House, and we stopped in for a look on the way back to Campbell River. The farmhouse, built in 1923, was the home of Roderick Haig-Brown, a conservationist and writer whose work I knew well as a child.
I found a map of the property that showed walking trails around the property, but it wasn’t clear that there was any interpretation on the property, or for that matter, that the public was welcome, so we didn’t stay. It’s a lovely piece of property, though, and now that I’ve found the house’s Web site, I’ll go back if I get a chance.
I’m going to start our look at the City of Campbell River by giving you what I think is some significant background to the Campbell River that we see today. The next photo shows the long-abandoned Wei Wai Kum cruise ship terminal, which cost $18 million to build and opened in 2007. Campbell River managed to attract 10 ships in 2007 and 2008, but only 1 in 2009, and there don’t appear to have been any large ships since. The Campbell River Cruise Ship Schedule is the only one I’ve seen that lists the ships that can simply be seen passing by. It takes a wide range of attractions to keep thousands of cruise ship passengers happy, and I expect that Campbell River was simply never able to create those. The countless millions that were spent on other facilities that were primarily aimed at the cruise passengers have certainly helped create a beautiful city for the rest of us, though.
We started our tour at Discovery Pier. Canada’s first salt water fishing pier extends 150 feet from the shore, and is 600 feet long.
With lots of benches, as well as built-in rod holders, bait stands, fish cleaning tables, a covered area with glass wind shields, and picnic tables, I imagine that this is a very popular spot in the summer.
We spent quite a while on the pier, just enjoying the sunshine and watching boats go by. There were also a few bald eagles, and there’s always the chance of a pod or orcas.
A BC Ferry shuttles back and forth from Campbell River to Quathiaski Cove on Quadra Island about once an hour. The crossing only takes 10 minutes, and costs $45.35 plus taxes return for a car and 2 people.
Our next stop was the Maritime Heritage Centre, located at the foot of Discovery Pier. Admission is only $8 for adults, $5 for seniors. The star of this excellent little museum is the Motor Vessel B.C.P. 45, which was built for BC Packers in 1927. She is one of the oldest and the best-preserved of the wooden seiners that have survived in Canada.
We lucked in and got a tour of B.C.P. 45. No guides were scheduled to be on duty that day, but one was showing his family around and invited us to join them. He had spent his life on the water and the tour was extremely interesting.
B.C.P. 45 was the fishing boat seen on the $5 bill that was in circulation from 1972 until 1986.
The museum’s collection of diving equipment of all sorts is extensive, and a timeline of underwater exploration development is very interesting. This photo showes a submarine escape helmet. A container of sodium peroxide in it gave off oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide. While they worked well, subs quit carrying them because they were too bulky.
The marine firefighting and rescue displays show some dramatic events. The caption on a series of photos showing a grounded freighter says: “Star Philippines. This ship tried to push Vancouver Island to Japan. It was unsuccessful.” 🙂
The collection of models is worthy of note. The quality of many is extremely high, including this one of the tug Haro that was built by Harold Berrow.
On April 5, 1958, a navigation hazard known as Ripple Rock was destroyed by what was at that time the world’s largest non-atomic blast. It was located in Seymour Narrows just north of Campbell River, and photos and/or mentions of it are seen in many places around town, including the Maritime Heritage Centre.
This is the pedestal and wheel from the first HMCS Yukon (DDE 263). She was a Mackenzie-class destroyer which was launched on July 27, 1961, and decommissioned on December 3, 1993.
When the opportunity presents, I share photos with various databases. Nauticapedia had no photo of the Inlet Tempest, a tug built in Port Alberni in in 2015, so I’ve sent them this one to add to their listing.
After leaving the museum, we returned to the motorhome and went for a walk. We spent a long time on the beach on the spit at Dick Murphy Park, playing with Bella and Tucker, and just watching the boats going by. This is quite a popular park at all hours of the day. Even at dawn there are people walking dogs and just sitting, reading or watching the water.
This glorious sunset was captured from the beach in front of our RV park at 9:09 pm.
There was one cruise ship scheduled to pass by, and we decided to stay up and wait for it. We used MarineTraffic.com to watch her progress, and at 10:48, Holland America’s Voldendam sailed by. It was a good excuse to stay up later than usual and drink an extra glass of wine 🙂
There were a few things that wanted to get photos of the next morning, so I was out walking just before 07:00. The first destination was the float plane base just up the road on Tyee Spit. A heritage sign says that the Campbell River float plane base was the busiest in the world in the 1970s. It’s very quiet now, but there are some interesting planes. This DHC-2 Beaver, now registered as N600AX, was first delivered to the Government of Colombia on June 10, 1955. After working in Colombia for 42 years and accumulating 34,000 hours, she came to Canada in 1997. Owned by Sealand Aviation of Campbell River, she is now the test bed for a new aircraft engine, the Orenda TRACE, and with “Experimental” on the pilot’s door, she made her first flight in Texas in 2012. She should be an interesting plane to follow the progress of.
The other plane of particular interest was this 1969 Piper PA-23-250 Aztec, registration C-GFOB. This is not a plane that’s seen on floats very often. Called an Aztec Nomad when converted this way, much more information can be found at CanAero.ca.
The Tyee Club, formed in 1924, is a unique Campbell River entity for fisherpeople. A heritage sign says: “club rules dictate that fish be caught from a boat that is being rowed or paddled. The gear, a single hook (barbless since 1998) attached to an artificial lure and 20 lb. test line, represents a significant handicap when your quarry is a Spring (Chinook) salmon weighing over 30 pounds!”
Nauticapedia has more information about it.
The powerful-looking 82-foot seiner Western King takes fishing to a different level.
On the way back to the RV park at 08:00, the First Nations cemetery with its many magnificent carvings was irresistible.
Today, we would head even further north, to the famous though tiny port of Telegraph Cove.
We arrived at Campbell River in the late afternoon of Day 20 (May 15) and set up camp at the Thunderbird RV Park on Tyee Spit. We then had one full day and the morning of Day 22 to explore the Campbell River area. The summary is that we hugely enjoyed everything about this stay, and I’ve had to break our visit up into 3 posts, starting with Elk Falls Provincial Park.
The weather was stormy when we arrived at about 4:00 pm. The Cape Mudge lighthouse immediately caught my attention and I hoped to get over to Quadra Island to see it, but we ran out of time.
Our camp site provided a good view of Discovery Passage, which is a major shipping route. Boats of all types passed by often, and the tugs had some very interesting tows.
That night, we experienced the wildest storm we’ve ever ridden out in the RV. Winds were reporting to have neared 100 kmh out on the spit where we were camped. The kitchen window on the side of the rig started leaking badly because of the force of the heavy rain being driven against it. I put the awning out about 8-10 inches to try to lessen the impact a bit, put a big towel under it, and went to bed. It was quite a ride, with the motorhome rocking, the wind howling, and the rain pounding the roof and walls. In the morning, though, everything was good. I almost lost my awning from the weight of the water that had accumulated on it, though.
Apparently gales like that aren’t unusual in Campbell River in November, but are in May. The very heavy snows that other parts of BC got hit with, though, made us feel better 🙂
Soon after we had arrived, we went to the Campbell River vet clinic. Bella had a sore paw that we needed to have checked out. We got an appointment for 09:00 the next morning. It turned out that Bella had a cut toe, perhaps from a shell on the beach. We it cleaned up and some Metcam, she soon felt better.
We started our Campbell River tour at about 10:30, with Elk Falls Provincial Park the first stop. This Heritage BC Stop of Interest sign is about the Campbell River Fire: “On a hot day in July 1938, an ominous smoke pillar near Gosling Lake signalled a forest fire which was to ravage 115 square miles of logged and timbered land. Over 1500 firefighters battled grimly for weeks to save timber and communities. Costs and damages were enormous. reforestation, intensified for the Forest Service, helped to heal the black scar.”
There are about 6 km of hiking trails at Elk Falls Park. A BC Hydro project that I’ll tell you about in a bit has changed a lot of park navigation, but we wanted to see the waterfall and suspension bridge. Access to them starts by crossing this bridge over 3 penstocks that take water from John Hart Lake to the power generation plant.
I don’t think I had ever seen pipes this large built with wooden staves. Built in 1947, they’re 3.66 meters (12 feet) in diameter, and 1,100 meters (3,609 feet) long.
The Millennium Trail leads hikers towards the falls and suspension bridge. The suspension bridge extension isn’t on the park trail maps yet.
The extensive network of stairs to a waterfall viewing platform and the suspension bridge are not dog friendly due to their open-grate construction (which is great for traction for humans). Cathy and I took turns going down while the other stayed with Bella and Tucker up top.
The 64-meter-long Elk Falls Suspension Bridge is very impressive. It began as a vision by the Rotary Club of Campbell River in 2009. With funding and support from many organizations, most notably BC Parks and BC Hydro, it opened on May 8, 2015. The bridge itself cost $740,000 and the parking lot and access trails are valued at $2 million.
The suspension bridge provides wonderful views of 25-meter Elk Falls. Prior to bridge construction, several people have died trying to get a good view of the falls.
It’s about 60 meters down to the Campbell River under the bridge.
I hear that the suspension bridge gets very crowded in the summer, but it was really pleasant when we were there.
There are some extremely impressive trees along the trail.
We spent a while at the John Hart Project Interpretive Centre to find out what BC Hydro is doing here. The John Hart Generating Station Replacement is a $1.093 billion project to upgrade a 70-year-old power generating station. The John Hart is one of Vancouver Island’s most important generating facilities. The interpretive centre does an excellent job of explaining the project.
Before leaving Elk Falls Provincial Park, we went into the Quinsam Campground for a look, for future reference.
The campground, which has 122 vehicle-accessible camp sites. The cost is $22 per night. The sites are very well spaced, and while the pads aren’t large, they’re large enough for our 32-foot RV.
We left the park just after 12:30, and headed towards Campbell River for more exploring in town.
Days 18 and 19, May 13 and 14, were quiet days, re-connecting with family and friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades.
It was a tight squeeze getting the motorhome into my oldest sister’s yard, but we got it done once I realized that there was a functioning side gate 🙂
Her property is lovely – this was the view from our side window. Getting a wake-up call from feral peacocks was a new experience. There are apparently many of them in the area. Five of them were sitting on her fence watching us get set up – they left when we let Bella and Tucker out, but we could hear them calling at all hours of the day and night.
For our second evening there, Val had organized a big family dinner. About 15 people from 4 generations of her family showed up for the feast that she’d worked very hard to create. It was a wonderful get-together!
Seven of us went out for lunch the next day. Forgetting that it was Mother’s Day, we actually had a hard time finding a place with room, but the Sandbar Cafe in nearby Bowser made a spot for us.
The menu had some surprisingly unique items (well, unique if you don’t live on the west coast), and the food was excellent. I had the Fanny Bay Burger (grilled oysters, $13.95), and Cathy had the Nile Creek Burger (breaded fish fillet, 12.95).
The weather has still not been what we’d like, but we’re still getting out. A few of us took 4 of the dogs for a walk from Val’s place. The first direction toward the Qualicum River got us into a big mud-hole. While Bella loved it, the next direction was intended to clean her in particular up!
We did a tiny bit of touring – this is Qualicum Beach. The tourist brochures indicate that it’s much prettier in the sunshine 🙂
On our third night we had dinner with a long-time friend from Whitehorse, who had moved to Nanaimo 6-7 years ago, and her partner. When we bought the motorhome, this re-connecting with family and friends was a big part of the reason, and it’s working out very well.
On Monday, May 15th, after Val went to work at noon, we took the scenic route up to Campbell River for a 2-night stay. The drive can be done in a hour, but we took much longer…
On Day 17, May 12th, we reluctantly left Long Beach and went to visit family in Qualicum Bay for 3 days. Before leaving the area, though, we stopped for a look at Ucluelet.
The day started off wet again.
I’ve said that Green Point Campground gets top marks in every category. This morning, they got a very poor mark in the final category – the RV dump. With the campground maybe 20% occupied, there was a lengthy wait to use the single dump.
We didn’t both hooking the Tracker up for the 8 km drive to the Visitor Information Centre where I parked the RV, then we drove the Tracker 13 km into Ucluelet.
It stopped raining, so our first stop was the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse. As we walked towards it, I saw the next photo coming and ran to a good spot to capture the moment.
The Amphitrite Point Lighthouse was built in 1915 to replace a wooden one that had been built in 1906 but was destroyed by storm waves in 1914.
This holding pond with concrete dams held water for the lighthouse’s steam-powered fog horn.
A fishing boat passes Amphitrite Point.
The Wild Pacific Trail, which totals about 8 km of excellent trail, provides access to many of the most dramatic sections of the coastline around Ucluelet.
Construction of the original lighthouse was spurred by the wreck of the Pass of Melfort in the early hours of December 26, 1905. Everyone on board – at least 27 people including 1 woman – died. Though the rain had started again, we decided to go for a walk along the Wild Pacific Trail to see the wreck site.
How can you not have great respect for people who go to work in conditions like that?
This bay is where the 299-foot steel 4-masted barque Pass of Melfort was destroyed by the rocks and surf. The Wild Pacific Trail is a wonderful walk even in the rain. It’s wide, fairly level, and many benches have been donated.
I really wanted to see more of Ucluelet generally, and the Wild Pacific Trail specifically, but time was marching on. Just after 12:30, we hooked the Tracker up again and headed for the east coast of the Island.
There are a couple of dicey pieces of Highway 4 when you’re driving a large vehicle. This one is the worst – with narrow roadway and overhanging rocks, it’s impossible to stay in your own lane.
We made a long lunch stop at a rest area, and Molly took on the job of bug-catcher. She’s very good at it, and seems to enjoy it 🙂
By 6:00 pm, we were set up in my oldest sister’s yard, and ready for a whole lot of visiting…
Most of Day 16, May 11th, was taken up by a visit to Hot Springs Cove. I’ll start this post by copying the review that I posted on TripAdvisor, where I rated it “Average”: “I visited Hot Springs Cove in 1991 and had fond memories of it. Four of us had this spectacular place to ourselves. Last week, our boat with 10 people was the first one there, and that was already far too many people. Four people can soak comfortably at high tide – any more get less and less hot water to sit it. By the time we left there were about 25 people and it was ridiculous – the changing facilities are also inadequate for more than about 15 people. It’s a great boat ride to get there (our captain with Ocean Outfitters, Travis, was extremely good), and the forest boardwalk is spectacular, so I might do it again some day, but I probably won’t bother even bringing a bathing suit. BC has some incredible hot spring experiences where you can have a wonderful soak in amazing scenery – this one doesn’t belong on that list.”
We’ve been getting a lot of rain, but this morning it got heavier and heavier, and by the time we started for Tofino just before 09:30, it was really coming down. Because of the rain, for the first time ever, I took Cathy’s little Nikon, a Coolpix L840, rather than my expensive Canon.
Ocean Outfitters is a very professional operation. They have every aspect of running tours down to a quick and simple process.
Walking down to our boat, the “Miss Chief”, which is the furthest yellow one.
C-GIJN is a 1976 Cessna A185F Skywagon that’s operated by Atleo River Air Service.
A better look at the Canadian Coast Guard ship “Bartlett” that we’d seen in the harbour the day before.
Another Coast Guard vessel, the “Cape Kuper”, had arrived while we were walking to our boat. She’s a SAR Lifeboat that was built in Victoria in 2005, and is now based in Victoria.
Our boat is a fine piece of equipment – fairly new, powerful, and comfortable – and Travis really impressed me both as a captain and a tour guide. The seas were reported as 1.7 meter swells, so not bad. Certainly nothing like what we had back in ’91 – I remember that as being a very rough/nauseating ride.
This looked like a good place for sea otters, and Travis told me later that that’s why he pulled in, but we didn’t see any.
I was thrilled by the number of Steller sea lions that were on Cleland Island – hundreds of them.
The rain kept pounding down but the visibility wasn’t bad so it was okay. Two women got seasick, though. One did it silently off the back of the boat, but the other spewed in the cabin a few times despite the captain’s requests to get outside. I got some paper towel from him to stem the nasty flow under the seats.
This little lighthouse sits on Sharp Point at the end of the Openit Peninsula, close to the hot springs.
This dock is the main access point to Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, the core of which was created on January 7, 1955, to protect the hot springs. On the opposite side of the inlet is the Hesquiaht First Nation village of Hot Springs Cove.
Park information panels at the shore end of the dock.
A boardwalk has been built for the entire 2 km route from the dock to the hot springs. Many of the planks have been replaced with carved ones made by boat owners. It’s a pretty cool form of ship signature.
The old-growth rainforest you walk through to reach the hot springs is extremely impressive.
This is where you first see the hot water of Sharp Point Hot Springs.
This is Hot Springs Cove, once called Refuge Cove and used as a small safe harbour.
This hot waterfall feeds the pools.
Except at very low tide levels, this is the main pool. The further you are from the waterfalls, the less hot the water is. Judging it against my hot tub which I keep at 105°F (40.6°C), this pool is about 102/38.9 degrees. An earthquake in January 2015 shut off the heat to the springs for a short while, but it apparently was soon back to pre-quake temperatures.
Four people in the main pool, another couple in the next pool towards the waterfalls.
A look at the entire hot springs from the sea, an hour and 20 minutes before high tide.
As I started to walk back to the dock just before 2:00 pm, the rain had almost quit.
Outhouses are located a few hundred meters/yards from the hot springs.
This large sea cave is on the Openit Peninsula.
Travis took a long wandering route back to Tofino, through an intricate series of channels. It was exceptionally scenic, but I didn’t take any photos because the camera had died as I left the hot springs. Oh well…
The weather improved greatly, and Happy Hour this evening was spent whale watching from the front windows of the RV while sharing a large bottle of beer from Tofino Brewing. It was quite successful – in one 10-minute period, we saw 4 grey whales cruising by quite close to shore.
The morning of Day 15, May 10th, was the first of 3 mornings that we’d wake up in Pacific Rim National Park. The plan for the day was to explore the area, and make the 20-km drive to Tofino to book a boat trip to Hot Springs Cove.
Our first impression was to give this campground top marks in every category, and that never changed. A couple of hundred meters/yards from our campsite (#76) is a washhouse with flush toilets and free showers.
Cathy and I were both quite amazed at the quality of the washhouse.
Our campsite was spacious, with 15/30-amp power, a picnic table and a firepit. I drove into the campsite rather than back into it so we’d have the ocean view out the front windows. That meant that a long extension cord was needed to hook up to 15-amp power (I don’t carry a 30-amp extension), and I tripped the breaker by trying to use the microwave and toaster at the same time.
The ocean view was nice from ground level, very nice from the front window of the RV. It’s even better from a fallen tree at the edge of the site.
This was grooming morning for the kids. Tucker is quick and simple to clean up. Bella takes much longer but she loves being fussed over.
I bought this wine glass at the pet store in Port Alberni: “I rescue dogs from shelters and wine from bottles” 🙂
This rainforest view is what we saw from the side windows of the RV. The forest truly is magnificent. Massive trees, lush undergrowth, and some of the most incredible nurse logs I’ve ever seen. The last time I was here was in 1991, but back in the late 1960s, before Parks Canada arrived, my girlfriend (and later wife) and I spent a lot of time here.
A look at Combers Beach from a viewpoint at the campground.
Tucker and I on a chair made from a tree that was felled along the short trail to the Combers Beach viewpoint.
Going down the trail to the main beach, which is Long Beach.
At the access to Long Beach, there are signs warning about the dangers of surf and rip currents, including instructions on what to do if you get caught in a rip.
What a place! A vast sandy beach, and great rocks for crashing-surf creation. This is the West Coast at its finest.
Looking north over Long Beach from the rocks at Green Point.
Yup, love the surf!
And the surf is even better in a video 🙂
Chillin’ with my beach dogs 🙂
A couple of the largest of the trees along the trail back up to the campground.
This is part of the parking lot for the main access to Long Beach. In the ’60s, you could drive your car onto the beach in this area and drive for miles. A few vehicles got caught by incoming tides and some never were recovered – they’re out there buried in sand somewhere.
The main day-use part of Long Beach.
We finally made it to Tofino at about 2:00 pm. The first place we went to wasn’t doing a Hot Springs Cove tour the next day, but they suggested that we go a couple of blocks to Ocean Outfitters, who was. Cathy decided not to go, but I quickly had a reservation for 10:00 am the next morning.
The Canadian Coast Guard ship Bartlett was in Tofino harbour changing buoys. This “Medium Endurance Multi-Tasked Vessel” is based in Victoria.
We ended up at Big Daddy’s Fish Fry for a late lunch / early dinner. The halibut and chips that we had once again was very good.
On the way back to the campground a sign pointing to the Tofino Brewing Company prompted a U-turn, and we shared a sample flight of their beers. We really liked a few of them, and a 4-pack of assorted 650 ml bottles accompanied us back to the rig.
Not done exploring yet, we stopped for a walk at Chesterman Beach.
I had seen a couple of red chairs high on the rocks at Green Point, and went down to check them out at about 7:00 pm. The Red Chairs are a Parks Canada program to encourage people to stop and enjoy a few particularly fine locations across Canada.
Ever since we’d confirmed Long Beach as a destination, I’d been playing “the good old days” over and over again in my memory/imagination. Driving on the beach, but also the original Wreck Beach, where weed was freely passed around, a couple of hundred people lived in shacks made from driftwood, and nudity was very common. I’m not certain where Wreck Beach was – it may have been Combers Beach, which the shack was overlooking. This driftwood shack near the red chairs, in any case, brought those memories flooding back even more. I could practically see Gae and I sprawled out in front, soaking up some warm sunshine with a curl of smoke rising. Ahhhh….
After spending some quality time with the red chairs and the driftwood shack, I went back down on the Combers Beach side of the rocks and went for a more literal stroll down memory lane…
We began Day 14, May 9th, at the Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park campground, where we’d spent the night. A tour of McLean Mill National Historic Site was the main event of the day, which ended at Pacific Rim National Park.
Rathtrevor Beach is one of the largest government campgrounds in BC, with 175 vehicle-accessible and 25 walk-in camping sites. This is the one-way ring road around the campground. There were perhaps 40 camp sites occupied the night we were there.
A typical campsite at Rathtrevor. The nightly fee is $35.
The outhouses are beautiful – they and the concrete paths leading up to them apear to be brand new.
Dogs were clearly not allowed on the beach at the day-use park of this park, but this sign seemed to indicate that they were okay on the beach along the campground. I’m curious about the reason for no dogs that time of year.
It’s not a particularly nice beach in any case. I don’t really understand what makes this park so popular.
The multi-use path along the forest edge is very nice.
We left Rathtrevor Beach at about 10:15, which seems to be a common get-on-the-road time for us. About 45 minutes later, we stopped at a large boat launch parking lot in Port Alberni, unhooked the Tracker, and went into town.
Our Garmin said that there was a pet store near the spot where I shot this photo, but when I asked 3 people with dogs about it, they said that it closed years ago, but pointed me to its replacement.
We had doped to start with lunch, but the cafe was closed. Actually the entire site was closed, but “self-guided tours” were welcomed. The Web site says that it was supposed to open May 1st.
McLean Mill was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989, and opened to the public in July 2000. “McLean Mill. A legacy of the early British Columbia forest industry, this steam-powered sawmill is typical of many operations that flourished in the province from the 1880s to the 1940s. Although small in scale, it contains many elements of larger coastal mills including the log haul and double circular saws. Completed in 1927 by the R. B. McLean Lumber Company, a family business, the mill is enriched by associated resources that tell the story of logging, transportation and labour. Together, they commemorate an industry that has dominated economic and social life in British Columbia.”
The site is wonderfully intact from the early days. This was worker housing.
he baclsmth shop.
This is the view that I like the best, now, and in the mill’s heyday.
“In the steam-logging era, steam-powered winches were anchored onto a sled made from two logs which were sniped on the ends to facilitate their movement from place to place over rough ground. This sled-winches-steam engine combo was called a ‘donkey’ and steam donkeys were the workhorses of the old-time logging camps.”
The garage or truck shed was built in about 1944-45. It was in poor condition but a basic restoration has been done on it.
There are also some vehicles that were abandoned in the forest.
Even some of the cable anchoring points are pretty interesting and photogenic, with railroad spikes used to hold the cables in place.
A look at the main sawing sorting floor, which looks very much like the mill that I worked at in about 1970, Delta Cedar.
This steam locomotive was built by the Westminster Iron Works of New Westminster.
Despite the cover, this caboose is in rough shape.
After spending an enjoyable hour at the site, we went back into Port Alberni and had lunch at a restaurant that had been recommended by the locals who told me about the pet store. It was only a block from the RV, and at 2:30, with a final photo of a boat being pulled out of the water, we were on the road for Pacific Rim National Park.
On January 9th, a couple of days after reservations opened, Cathy had booked 3 nights at Parks Canada’s Green Point Campground, located exactly halfway between Tofino and Ucluelet. She was able to get a view site with electricity for a total of $107.90. After looking over the campground once were got set up, the 3 best campsites are numbers 76, 86, and 90 – we got #76.
By 5 pm we were on the beach, and with nobody around, we let Bella and Tucker play free for a few minutes.
A broad sandy beach with some great rocks for crashing-surf creation – Green Point has the perfect combination.
There were lots of birds as well.
A portrait with Tucker before heading back to the rig for diinner.
It must take a great deal of work to keep the trail to/from the beach open in this lush rainforest vegetation.
On Day 13, May 8th, we started a 2-day drive towards Tofino. I really wanted to see the British Columbia Aviation Museum but it just hadn’t fit into the schedule yet. A last-second decision made it a stop before leaving the Victoria area, though, and I’m extremely glad that we made that decision. The museum is excellent, and this post contains a lot of photos from it.
The museum is located at the Victoria International Airport. When I saw the museum approach, I decided to leave the motorhome on the wide shoulder of the main road. It was a good decision – the parking lot is not big-rig-friendly.
The airport began life as RCAF base Patricia Bay, always known as “Pat Bay.” A brass plaque at the base of the flagpoles states: “A Place of Ceremony. This plaque was unveiled on October 22, 1999 by His Honour the Honourable Garde B. Gardom, Q.C., Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, marking the 60th anniversary of the airport’s opening as the Patricia Bay Air Station, Royal Canadian Air Force. The first aeroplane to land was an RCAF Avro 626 biplane. This occurred on October 22, 1939, after which the RCAF ensign was raised. On this same date in 1999, a re-enactment took place when an ex-RCAF de Havilland Tiger Moth DH-82C biplane flew in bearing an Air Force ensign that now flies on this flag staff in commemoration of the original event 60 years before.”
There were several people in the reception area inside the museum, but they turned out to be all volunteers – we were the only visitors. We paid our admission ($10 for Cathy and $8 for me), and one of the volunteers, Lyle, offered to take us on a tour. He started by asking about our aviation experience, and how much information we wanted. We said that we wanted the highlights and then would wander on our own. It soon became clear that he could have talked about aviation, and the museum collection, for days 🙂
We began the tour with the full-sized replica of a 1910 Gibson Twin-plane hanging above us in the main hall. On September 8, 1910, at Dean’s Farm near Victoria, W. W. Gibson and his Gibson Twin-plane achieved the first flight in Canada of a Canadian designed and built heavier-than-air aircraft. On that day, it flew 25 feet. On September 24th, it flew about 200 feet but a gust of cross-wind while landing caused it to crash into a tree. Mr. Gibson not only designed and built the aircraft, but its engine as well. The Twin-plane never flew again, but its successor, the Gibson Multi-plane, used the Twin-plan’s engine for flights of up to a mile in 1911.
Above the Bolingbroke bomber hangs a full-sized replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s Ornithopter.
The museum’s collection is remarkable, not only because of its size, but also its scope, from real and replica aircraft to air traffic control equipment, papers, uniforms, and ephemera. The museum gets no core funding, and has no paid employees. Because of the lack of paid staff, they are not officially recognized as a museum.
There is a great deal of aviation art on the walls. This painting of an Avro Arrow was done in 1993 by H. Hipperson.
The first airplane I fell in love with as a kid was the Vickers Viscount. Depending on the winds, our home in Surrey was sometime son the flight path of aircraft landing at and departing Vancouver, and by the time I was about 7 I knew a Viscount was coming by its sound. CF-THG has been beautifully restored.
The interior of the Vickers Viscount – flying at its finest in the 1950s. Individual donors paid $300 for the re-upholstery of each seat during the restoration, and are recognized.
The Beechcraft 18 first flew in 1937, and some are still flying commercially today (if the weather had cooperated, I would have flown in one yesterday). This example was highly modified by the BC Government in the mid-19060s and isa now known as a Westwind IV. A pair of Pratt & Whitney PT-6 turboprops replaced the radial engines, tricycle landing gear was installed, and a single-piece swept fin and rudder replaced the twin tail.
Outside the back hangar is an RCAF crash truck, built by Welles-Thornton on a Ford chassis of about 1939 vintage.
I got to try out the front seat of a Canadair Shooting Star. This is a licenced version of the Lockheed T-33, which was a two-seat trainer version of the P-80 Shooting Star.
In the large workshop, work has begun on building a replica of the first aircraft designed, built, and flown in British Columbia, the Hoffar H-1. It was also the first aircraft to fly a passenger over Vancouver, but in late 1917 it hit a snag and was destroyed. Two scale models and the full-size Hoffar are being built from the details gleaned from 3 photos of the aircraft.
Some mild restoration work is being done on a modified Republic RC-3 Seabee called a Trident TR1 Trigull 320. It was built by Trident Aircraft of Burnaby, and later Sidney. The Trigull’s first flight was in August 1973, but in 1980 the company ran out of money and closed. Viking Air of Sidney owns this and another prototype, and holds the type certificate.
This room is rented out for all sorts of meetings and events, and is an important part of fund-raising.
An aircraft that has a special attraction for me because its history is strongly attached to Atlin, BC, is the Eastman Sea Rover.
This is the only remaining example of the aircraft, five of which were flown to Atlin in 1929.
The versatile Douglas A26 Invader served in combat roles in the latter part of World War II, in Korea, and in Vietnam, but by the 1960s was also being modified for use as a water bomber to combat forest fires. The BCAM’s A26 served with Conair from 1970 until 1984.
This Avro Anson Mark II was obtained from the Royal Canadian Legion in Fort St. John, BC, and has been restored to represent a Pat Bay training aircraft.
This early Department of Transport Aeradio Station is complete right down to the weather station that sat outside.
This display describes early air mail flights on the west coast, and features many of the special envelopes carried on the first flights on a specific route. I have many of the envelopes (“covers”) in my collection.
The French Nieuport 17 is one of the best-known of World War I fighters, due to its success. This is a 7/8 scale replica built by Jack Blair.
A model of the incredible Supermarine S-6B, designed by R.J. Mitchell to take part in the 1931 Schneider Trophy competition. It set a new speed record, 528.8 km/h (340.08 mph).
The museum’s Fleet was built in 1930 and worked in northern BC for nearly 50 years. It was the oldest registered aircraft in Canada when it was retired in 1981.
Designed by North American Aviation, the Harvard became the main trainer used by the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. This example was built from a wreck, and includes parts from a Mark II, a Mark 4 and an AT-6 Texan.
While I went around the museum getting some more photos, Cathy was joined at the Snowbirds display by Captain (Retired) David “Badger” Berger-North, who designed the Snowbirds logo in 1972, the year they began performing. Badger was an instructor at Canadian Forces Flying Training School in Moose Jaw at the time, and is now a BCAM volunteer.
A unique Japanese weapon that could have had devastating effects was the Fu-Go balloon. This little hydrogen balloon climbed to 30,000 feet after launch in Japan, and in 3 days would be over western North America where it dropped four 5-kg incendiary bombs and one 15-kg anti-personnel bomb. A flash charge then destroyed the paper balloon to hide evidence of the bombs’ origin. Of the 9,300 Fu-Go balloons launched, about 10% reached North America. One adult and 5 children were killed by a Fu-Go bomb in Oregon in May 1945, but no other damage was caused. Unfortunately for the Japanese, they chose to launch them in the winter – between November 1944 and April 1945. Summer launches could have caused massive forest fires. This original Fu-Go bomb basket is the finest example known to exist in the world.
Both guides at the museum had recommended that we go across the street to Mary’s Bleue Moon Cafe for lunch. It opened in 1939 to serve Pat Bay, and the food, service, and decor are all excellent.
Before leaving the big city, we went to the Sidney hospital to have Cathy’s hand checked out. She fell on the walk up from Sandcut Beach, and it had really been bothering her. An x-ray didn’t show any break, and with that concern alleviated, we started towards the west coast at 3:45.
Traffic on the infamous Malahat Highway wasn’t bad, and we made it up-Island in good time. We did a big grocery shopping in Nanaimo, and made dinner in the store parking lot.
I had planned on overnighting at Sproat Lake Provincial Park, but when I saw the sign pointing to a campground at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park as daylight dimmed, we decided that was far enough. The price for an unserviced site, though, is quite shocking – $35. We had actually pulled into the Walmart at Nanaimo, but it was signed “No Overnight Parking”, so continued on.
The forest at Rathtrevor is spectacular. We had a brief look at the no-dogs-allowed beach, then went to bed. We’d see more of the park in the morning before driving to Pacific Rim National Park.