Heritage 3-5 days

The early settlement history of Vancouver Island North is born out of resourcefulness and perseverance. This was a remote and untamed frontier where only the hardiest thrived. Natural resources, establishment of a western colony, the dream of a utopian society – each community has its own story to tell. Most communities remain today, but some have left only remnants of the past.

Travel to Vancouver Island North
Day 01
Day 02
Day 03
Day 04
Day 05
Additional Activities
Day 01
Telegraph Cove is something straight out of a storybook. The community, and its historic boardwalk, pay homage to the original settlers. Each building along the boardwalk has a history. Their stories are told on interpretive plaques displayed as you make your way to the Whale Museum.
Continue your historic discovery of Vancouver Island North through local museums and historic collections in Coal Harbour, Port Hardy, and Port McNeill. These centres tell the tales of the early settlement and the industry that developed the communities of today.
Check out Day 02
Day 02
A vast collection of exotic plants sits in stark contrast to the classic BC rainforest that surrounds it at Ronning’s Garden near the community of Holberg, west of Port Hardy.
This homestead was founded in 1910 on the old San Josef Wagon Road. This unique garden almost disappeared when founder Bernt Ronning left his homestead, but many of his original plantings have now been rediscovered.
Follow the signs to Cape Scott Provincial Park, a bit further west from Ronning’s Garden. A well-groomed path from the Cape Scott Provincial Park trailhead leads you 2.5 km, on a relatively easy gravel surface, out to the wide, sandy beach of San Josef Bay. Along the trail, look for interpretive signs that tell the story of Danish pioneers settled the northern tip of Vancouver Island over 100 years ago.
**Travel by ferry required.
Check out Day 03
Day 03
Sointula translates to “place of harmony”, and was to be an escape for the Finns who rowed to Malcolm Island in 1901 with the aim of creating a utopian society where artists and free-thinkers would find a home. Hardships derailed their plans and ownership of the land went back to the province, but the unique settlement of homes remains as a reminder of the Island’s rich heritage. This history is celebrated at the Sointula Museum.
Wander through the site of an early 1900’s homestead along the 6km Mateoja Heritage Trail. The trailhead is on Third Street above the town site. Your exploration of Malcolm Island will reveal colourful remnants of the early Finnish settlers.
**Travel by ferry required.
Travel to Alert Bay from Sointula without paying an additional fare by asking for a Turn Around Pass when you board the ferry in Sointula – you will be instructed to show the pass at the toll booth and be directed into the line for the immediate next sailing to Alert Bay.


Check out Day 04
Day 04
First stop when you arrive on Cormorant Island is the Alert Bay Visitor Centre at 118 Fir Street. Get an introduction to the community courtesy of the staff at the Centre and pick up your Guide to Historic Alert Bay. This booklet will lead you from site to site and provide a historical description of the Island’s features and buildings, dating back to the early 1900’s.
**Travel by ferry required.
Check out Day 05
Day 05
Logging has been a mainstay occupation in the Nimpkish Valley since European settlers first arrived. Woss is the site of the only operational railroad logging enterprise in Canada. Steam Locomotive 113, built in 1920 for rail logging, is a historic local treasure that honours the community’s heritage and is now a registered Heritage Site along with the Woss Fire Lookout located just north of the community. Head down to the railroad tracks to view the 113 Locomotive at the Woss Heritage Park, or if you are feeling adventurous follow the signs to the Woss Lookout Trail. This is a fairly short, 1.8 km, fairly steep, with rope assisted sections, trail that will reward hikers with a birds-eye view of the rugged peaks and deep valley from the recently restored fire lookout tower.
**Travel on a logging road required.


Check out Day 01
Additional Activities
  • Take a walk in the woods on the Blinkhorn Trail
  • It doesn’t get fresher than catching your own dinner, head out on a guided half-day fishing charter
  • If you’re heading west, be sure to stop at the Shoe Tree on the eastern end of Kains Lake, this old cedar snag is covered with hundreds of shoes contributed by visitors
  • Find the perfect Island-inspired gift item to remember your trip by at local galleries
  • Borrow a bike and cruise Kaleva Road, the bikes are free to borrow, just sign one out at the Sointula Resource Centre
  • See the world renowned Potlatch Collection of masks and regalia at the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay
  • If you are visiting during July and August see traditional Dance performance in Big House or take a guided Circle Tour of Cormorant Island
The North Island may feel like a remote destination, but it’s certainly not a challenge to get here. With a fully paved highway leading you North, to daily flights and multiple ferry options, you have your pick of ways to travel! Visit the Getting Here page to learn more.
Waivin’ Flags Taxi & Bus Service
Town Taxi
Pacific Coastal Airlines
National Car and Truck Rentals
Mount Waddington Regional Transit
Drive BC – Provincial Highway Information
Cape Scott Water Taxi
Budget Rent-a-Car
BC Ferries
View On Google Maps
Explore Vancouver Island North
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