Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, formerly a thriving fishing village on the BC coast. Heritage buildings and old village houses on the waterfront still speak of the early pioneer days, where a fish saltery was in 1870. The waterfront boardwalks, ferry dock and marinas bustle with life, but most vivid today is the living culture of the ‘Namgis First Nation of the Kwakwaka’wakw.
Alert Bay is home of the Killer Whale. The vibrant blending of First Nation and pioneer cultures is a remarkable example of cultures living side by side in harmony set in an unparalleled Northern Pacific wilderness environment.
The village’s elegant and acclaimed U’mista Cultural Centre, incorporated in 1974, is Canada’s longest-running First Nations museum and cultural centre. U’mista showcases the famed Potlatch Collection of ceremonial regalia, taken by Canadian authorities in 1922 during the potlatch ban era and finally returned in 1980.
Alert Bay has much to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Cormorant Island is one of the stops and departure points for kayak tours, whale watching and fishing in Knight Inlet, Kingcome Inlet and the Broughton Archipelago. The island is a haven for birds, bird watchers, photo buffs and hikers along the boardwalks and trails throughout the community and ecological park.
To discover Cormorant Island’s rich blend of outdoor beauty, ancient First Nation culture and pioneer heritage you can take a scenic 45-minute BC Ferries ride to Alert Bay from Port McNeill, fly in on the 2,900 foot paved airstrip or moor at our full service boat harbour.
*Please note that proper permission is needed to visit the historical sites of the Kwakwaka’wakw. This can be obtained by calling the local First Nation offices or the U’mista Cultural Centre.
A themed walking tour stretches across the island from a roadside stand of memorial poles to the magnificent traditional Big House. Stops along the way will include the Alert Bay Library-Museum (with 10,500 historic photographs dating back to the mid 1800’s), main street gift shops featuring First Nations arts and crafts, and the world’s tallest totem pole. Traditional dance performances by the T’sasala Cultural Group are held in July and August in our authentic Big House.
Cormorant Island is a short 35 minute to 1 hour ferry ride from Port McNeill. This is a non-bookable route. Fares are paid at the terminal at the time of travel. Find the Port McNeill to Cormorant Island (Alert Bay) sailing schedule on bcferries.com.
For information on Vancouver Island North see Drive BC provincial highway information.