Danny Brown leads the historical tour sharing historical stores about the people and the landscape.

On the water with the Museum’s historic boat trips

A first-hand account of a local tour of historic parts of our region

Erika Anderson

Museum at Campbell River

As we boarded the bus at Discovery Marine Safaris there was an air of anticipation for the day’s events.

The tour began almost immediately as we were introduced to Danny Brown, a Museum Docent and our tour guide for the day.

Soon after we hit the highway Brown began to tell us tales of the region’s history.  We heard the story of Duluth, the town that never materialized that had carefully been planned out in the 1890s at the old Elk Falls mill site.

We heard about Rock Bay, whose first hospital was built in 1905, nine years before Campbell River had a hospital.

After the hour-long drive north to the Port of Kelsey Bay we exited from the bus, our minds full of historic notes, and prepared to board the Tenacious III.  The weather could not have been better, with calm waters and clear skies.

En route Brown shared with us stories of lives lived in remote logging camps and float houses, where the only news from the outside world arrived once a week with the Union Steamships.

We stopped to see Thurston Bay, a former Forest Service station and tried to imagine the lives of the 150 people living there, and how the place looked with houses all along the shore, a dock full of patrol boats and buildings housing all of the other services required to run the operations.

We cruised by Knox Bay, the historic site of a large logging camp where the Museum’s 100-year-old steam donkey once pulled timber from the woods.

Brown shared with us historic photographs of sites along the way to help bring the history to life.

The boat slowed and the naturalist pointed out to the starboard side of the boat where a pod of dolphins were cruising through.  The water bubbled with their constant surfacing as they glided.  We paused to watch and take pictures.

We pulled into Dent Island Lodge and our boat, that seemed large when we embarked, was dwarfed by the private yachts moored at the dock.

We strolled up to the expansive deck surrounding the lodge and were served a gourmet lunch.

Lunch hour flew by thanks to the delicious food, the excellent service and the fantastic view, and before we knew it, it was time to return to our vessel.

The captain welcomed us back on board and Brown launched right back into telling us more stories of the past.

Soon the boat slowed once again as we pulled up to a rock face.

From a distance the reason for this stop wasn’t clear, but as we got closer Brown pointed out the rust coloured shapes on the rocks, pictographs drawn in ancient times.

We made our way back to Kelsey Bay, hearing more history along the way and using the opportunity to take advantage of Brown’s extensive knowledge and ask him more about life on the coast.

Barry Malpass has been on several of the boat tours with the Museum at Campbell River, and when I asked him how he enjoyed the day he said “The boat ride is very comfortable, the scenery is beautiful, the lunch was great and of course the guide made the trip very informative”.

It seems to be a winning combination and many people, like Malpass, have made the historic boat tours an experience they sign up for again and again.

The Museum at Campbell River’s historic boat tours run every Sunday in the summer.  For the full schedule see www.crmuseum.ca/historic-boat-tours , or call 250-287-3103 for more information.