It might be argued that the coastal town of Lund is at the beginning of the road rather than at the end of the road, but either way, it is situated at the northern terminus of Highway 101, that meanders along the BC mainland coast as far as Langdale.
A picturesque town, Lund is comprised of a cluster of buildings that seem to hang precariously onto the hillside above a charming cove. Billed as the ‘Gateway to Desolation Sound’, Lund is 23 kilometres north of Powell River. The site has a long history of habitation and was used as a village site by the Sliammon Nation prior to the arrival of Europeans. These Coast Salish people shared the territory with the neighbouring Klahoose and Homalco and thrived on the abundant seafood, berries and deer.
When Captain George Vancouver explored the area in 1792 sailing on HMS Discovery, he encountered the Coast Salish and spent time in Desolation Sound surveying and mapping; anchoring in Teakerne Arm. The name for the Sound derived from his disparaging remarks: “Our residence here was truly forlorn… an awful silence pervaded the gloomy forests, whilst animated nature seemed to have deserted the neighbouring country.”
The first settler to arrive in Lund was Charles Thulin, who had come to the area in 1889. At that time the site had been almost completely abandoned by the Salishan peoples, whose population had been severely decimated by smallpox, and most of the remaining population had moved to the Sliammon Village reserve to the south.
Thulin had originally come from Sweden, and found his way to central Canada before coming to British Columbia, via the United States. He headed west from Manitoba on the CPR railroad, and was one of the first people to arrive in Vancouver by train. He quickly found work building and logging in the Vancouver area, followed by logging for a few months in the Sechelt Inlet, then headed north to do the same in Pendrell Sound on East Redonda Island. His younger brother Fred came from Sweden to join him in 1889, and the story goes that when Fred, who spoke no English, arrived on the Union Steamship, Charles found him wearing a shipping tag to identify his destination.
In December of that year, the brothers made their move to Lund, named after a university town in Sweden. Often described as ‘enterprising’, Charles and Fred got to work immediately building a wharf to which they piped water. They made fish nets for catching cod, and made oil from the cod liver which they sold. During these early years, they relied on mail and supplies to be delivered by Hastings Mills tugboats, or they had to make the onerous trip to Vancouver in a rowboat to get what they needed. Fortunately by 1892, the Union Steamship SS Comox began stopping at Lund bringing mail, goods and people, and at the same time, the Thulin brothers established a post office. Charles became the first postmaster.
Aware that there was a shortage of accommodation in the vicinity, in 1894 they built a hotel and called it the Lund Hotel. For their hotel business, they procured a liquor licence – the first to be issued north of Vancouver. A second hotel, the Malaspina, was constructed in 1905. It was later renamed the Lund Hotel after the original property was destroyed by a forest fire in 1918, and it is this hotel that still stands today. In 1905 the brothers also started up a store, built their first tug – the City of Lund, and brought the first steam donkey to the upper coast.
Hearing of the tremendous sport fishing opportunities in Campbell River, Charles decided to try his luck there and built the Willows Hotel to accommodate visiting fishermen and loggers, but Fred stayed in Lund, married and had a family. Some of Fred’s children later went to Campbell River.
The highway up the coast was put through as far as Lund in 1954, and it was at this time that the Union Steamships stopped servicing the coast. People came and went from the community over the years, and today the population is about 300. Lund serves as a destination for those going to nearby Savary Island, renowned for its sandy beaches, and for those who want to explore Desolation Sound.
The Museum at Campbell River offers a historic guided boat trip to Lund leaving from Campbell River that includes lunch at the famous Lund Hotel, an excursion to Teakerne Arm and a cruise through Desolation Sound.