NORTH ISLAND GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Telegraph Cove Resort owner Gordie Graham.

Telegraph Cove Resort owners Marilyn and Gordie Graham issue statement on whale watching company switch

“We approached the Prince of Whales company and a long-term agreement was made.”

Dear editor,

This week, Telegraph Cove Resort made an exciting announcement that will ensure the long-term stability of whale watching and eco-tourism here while also enhancing marine conservation, education and orca research.

Following months of discussions and consultations, we made the decision to change our whale watching provider. Our decision will bring certainty to our guests and staff and lead to many other benefits. But we understand it has caused some concern. To clear up any misunderstanding, we want you to know some of the important facts.

First of all, it is important to understand the history. In 1979, we (Marilyn, Gordie and our two daughters) started a campground and marina at Telegraph Cove, a small village surrounded by forest. The road to the campground needed to be built, the marina dredged, the campsite cleared and sites built. This was the first resort in this region and it involved hard work and long days.

Over the years the Cove has grown, the boardwalk rebuilt, the cottages renovated. Eventually the warehouse at the end of the dock was built into a Whale Interpretive Centre at a cost of about $500,000 which we donated to the local non-profit society: “The Johnstone Straits Killer Whale Interpretive Society.” We have always paid the foreshore leases and the taxes as part of our commitment to this beautiful place.

It is currently managed by Jim and Mary Borrowman. Jim was one of the first owners of the Stubbs Island Whale Watching Company, the first whale watching company on Vancouver Island. We worked together at the Cove for almost thirty years.

Last fall, we learned that the current owners of the Stubbs Island had put the business up for sale. This created more uncertainty for Telegraph Cove as there was no long-term lease in place. Who would be the new owner? When would this change? Would they be reliable?

Would they provide safe, ethical and environmentally-respectful service?

It was imperative for the future of Telegraph Cove and its employees that we secure a principled and successful whale watching business. About the same time, we met Alan McGillivray, who founded Prince of Whales more than 25 years ago, and we were impressed with the reputation of his company and his commitment to the environment.

We approached the Prince of Whales company and a long-term agreement was made. We have been impressed with how much the Prince of Whales team does for whale research and salmon habitat enhancement. The company collects a conservation surcharge from passengers which is expected to raise up to $100,000 per season.

All of that money will stay here, in our community, supporting orca research, the Whale Interpretive Center and fishery enhancement programs.

As many of you know, we also raise funds for fishery improvement and have donated more than $150,000 to the Kokish River Salmon Enhancement program. We will be even stronger together.

Now, with a secure whale watching agreement in place, we can move forward into the future, providing jobs for our staff and great experiences for the thousands of visitors who come here every summer to explore this wonderful place.

Telegraph Cove has a long, storied history from sawmill town to tourism magnet. We are grateful to have played a role in that and we look forward to a bright future for generations to come.

Thank you for your support,

Marilyn and Gordie Graham

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