Desolation Sound is one of the stops on the Museum at Campbell River’s history tour that includes Bute Inlet.

Historic tour of hidden inlets

The four-day tour starts in Campbell River and wends through the narrow passages between the Discovery Islands

Bute Inlet and Desolation Sound lie within one of the most beautiful stretches on the BC coast, but with no road access it’s a place few people get to see.

The Museum at Campbell River is offering a tour there aboard heritage vessel Columbia III May 24 to 28. Historian Jeanette Taylor will be on board to share stories of the aboriginal villages and settlements that once dotted this remote coastline.

The four-day tour starts in Campbell River and wends through the narrow passages between the Discovery Islands, with daily shore excursions to soak up the sights. Taylor says there is memorable scenery at every turn, opening to new vistas and tales of the rugged individuals who once lived here.

“Men like trapper August Schnarr,” says Taylor, “are a storyteller’s dream. Schnarr had to be tough as nails to make a life for himself among the mountains of Bute Inlet, and so did his three daughters.”

When a newcomer asked the trapper for advice about grizzlies, says Taylor, he told him they were no problem.

“I just stare them down,” said the old man.

“We look at pictographs (paintings on rock bluffs), old homesteads, and forgotten graves,” says Taylor, “all of it with the stunning backdrop of the coastal mountains.”

Bute Inlet, which has some of the highest peaks in the province and an equally dramatic history, is always a highlight says Taylor. But the bird sanctuary on Mitlenatch Island, with its sea lions and hundreds of nesting birds, and Desolation Sound Marine Park top the polls as well.

“We pack a lot of memorable stops into this tour,” says Taylor. “The Columbia III,” she says, “brought medical aid and religion to the people of these islands until the late 1950s. It’s like a homecoming to pull in at old docks at places like Surge Narrows on Read Island on this boat.”

Tour participants will get a taste of the present too, with stops at small communities like Refuge Cove, at the mouth of Desolation Sound, that have weathered isolation and economic change. And they’ll visit a contemporary homestead on Sonora Island, where the Columbia III’s crew live.

This tour is restricted to ten guests aboard the 68-foot boat, at an all-inclusive price of $1,795 per person, which includes gourmet fare that gets rave reviews. For further information check the Mothership Adventures website or call 1-888-833-8887.