Campbell River Mirror

Explore the Discovery Islands

There’s something to see at every turn in the Discovery Islands. Refuge Cove has weathered isolation and economic change. - Photo contributed
There’s something to see at every turn in the Discovery Islands. Refuge Cove has weathered isolation and economic change.
— image credit: Photo contributed

Explore a little known part of the BC coast with historian Jeanette Taylor, who will lead a three-day tour of the Discovery Islands aboard the historic Columbia III May 23 to 26.

The trip, offered by the Museum at Campbell River, winds through the myriad island channels of this exceptionally beautiful stretch of coast.

“It’s an active trip,” says Taylor, “with shore excursions by zodiak two or three times a day to see abandoned homesteads and ancient First Nations village sites.”

Taylor gives the background stories on the history of these places while the Mothership Adventures crew provides the stories of the birds, plants and animals.

“This stretch of coast used to be dotted throughout with Native villages and later by homesteads and little communities based on logging and fishing,” says Taylor. “There was all kinds of action here a century ago, with schools, stores and even a few hotels, but it’s now largely abandoned.” And that, according to Taylor, makes for fun exploration.

Taylor’s recent book, Tidal Passages, documents the people and settlements of the Discovery Islands, from Native history and the age of European exploration to contemporary times.

“It’s so fitting,” says Taylor, “to visit the islands aboard the Columbia III, a place she served as a religious and medical mission over 50 years ago.”

While there are now only scattered remnants, like a forgotten gravestone or the pilings of a once busy cannery, Taylor brings your experiences of these places to life with tales of the many colourful people who once lived there.

“You couldn’t invent stories and characters as fascinating as these islanders, “ says Taylor. “Men like By-God Stafford of Read Island, with his tales of milking a whale to feed his pigs or Desolation Sound’s logger-turned-philosopher Andrew Shuttler.”

When Shuttler awoke from a barroom brawl, says Taylor, he was covered in blood from a jagged cut up his nose so he fled society to live in remote Melanie Cove, where he ruminated on the meaning of life.

While it’s fun to learn about the people, flora and fauna, what really stands out for participants of past tours is the beauty of this stretch of coast.

There’s something to see at every turn, from waterfalls, sea life in the fast running channels and clustered islands—all of it with a constant backdrop of the Mainland mountains.

Tour participants will get a taste of the present too, with stops at little communities that have weathered isolation and economic change at places like Refuge Cove, at the mouth of Desolation Sound.

The tour is restricted to ten guests. For further information check the Mothership Adventures website www.mothershipadventures.com or call 1-888-833-8887.

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