Sunday, September 02, 2007

Alert Bay, BC

This summer we flew to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island near the north east coast of Vancouver Island. The island is the traditional home of the 'Namgis First Nation. The village of Alert Bay is the oldest North Island community, built in the late 1800's to support local fishing, logging, canning and trading.

We departed Powell River late in the morning. There were still some low clouds, but they were starting to burn off. About fifteen years ago we camped next to our airplane at the Alert Bay airport. Like before, we walked from the airport to town through quiet residential streets. It was amazing, everything looked the same. When we got to Front Street we walked to the ferry terminal. BC Ferries departs from Port McNeil on Vancouver Island to bring you to the heart of Alert Bay. You can bring your car or walk on. In Alert Bay, you can reach almost any destination in town on foot.

Tourist services and activities are limited, but that isn't a bad thing. There's a waterfront seawalk, a marina for pleasure and commercial fishing boats, art galleries, shops, a library/museum, totem poles in the 'Namgis burial grounds, a cultural center and the world's tallest totem pole reaching 173 feet. There's also a co-op with everything you might need. You can also see the old cannery on pilings extending into the bay.

There are several bed and breakfasts, cabins and lodges if you want to stay the night. There's also a nice campground near the Ecological Garden on Alder Road. The garden has a nature trail leading through marsh lands and cedar forests.

We ate at the restaurant located in the old Custom House building on Front Street. Our waitress was an enthusiastic young woman who grew up on the island. After lunch we walked to the burial grounds to view the totem poles. From there we hiked back up the hill past the Tribal Recreation Center and back to the airport.

Whether you arrive by boat, ferry or airplane, come to Alert Bay for a relaxed vacation destination. Even Oprah thinks so, I heard on the radio that she got quite a welcome! -- Margy

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