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Leaving Jervis Inlet

Travelling 28 miles (45 km) south from Deserted Bay, passing more majestic scenery, brings us back to the ‘intersection’ of Jervis Inlet, Sechelt Inlet and Agamemnon Channel.  There are just a couple of stops to see in Agamemnon Channel before returning home to Sechelt Inlet.

Princess Royal Reach 10

Princess Royal Reach Mountains

Agamemnon Channel is a 9.95 mile (16 km) narrow channel separating Nelson Island from the mainland.  At the southern end it opens out into Malaspina Strait which lies between Nelson Island and Texada Island.  Because of it’s narrowness Agamemnon is affected by the tides and, while they aren’t a problem for power boats, kayakers may want to check the tide charts before passing through.  It is a much easier paddle when going with the tide rather than fighting it.

At the northern end of Agamemnon, on the mainland side, is the BC Ferry Terminal at Earl’s Cove.  From there you can take a ferry to Powell River, BC.  Very near to the ferry terminal are a set of pictographs thought to be the oldest pictographs in all the inlets.

5 miles (8 km) south of the Earl’s Cove pictographs are another set found in a cave about 15 feet above sea level.

Continuing south out of Agamemnon there are other pictographs to be found in the area as this was a major gathering place for the shíshálh (Sechelt) in the winter months.

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To Queen’s Reach

Continuing up the left side of Prince of Wales Reach 1.5 miles (2.4 km) brings you to the Brittain River and the start of Princess Royal Reach.  Brittain River is the site of another deserted shíshálh (Sechelt) village, Sláy-ah-thlun that was famous for it’s dugout canoe makers.  Logging has taken place in the area since the 1930’s and no trace of the village remains.

Princess Royal Reach continues to have incredible scenery with steep and unusual rock outcrops.  We found two more sets of pictographs and missed one more.  Ten miles (16 km) up the Reach you turn left around Patrick Point and enter Queen’s Reach.

We travelled another 3.4 miles (5.4 km) and anchored in front of an old homestead.  Again weather was favourable and we had a beautiful afternoon and evening there.  We kayaked a little further up the inlet and found an old logging camp with lots of discarded equipment left in the bush.  Unfortunately this was not an uncommon practice – it was cheaper to just leave the equipment rather than haul it out.

We also found lots of erratic boulders along and under the waterline.  Many of them were massive chunks of rock piled on top of each other descending into the depths.  The trees were also amazing to see, growing right down to the tideline.  These would be second growth timber as most of the accessible old growth trees in all the inlets had been logged out in earlier times.

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Jervis Inlet & Vancouver Bay

Pictograph - Vancouver Bay 1

Pictograph - Vancouver Bay 3

From Granville Bay, heading east 5.6 miles (9.2 km) you arrive on the east side of the mouth of the reaches of Jervis Inlet.  Heading north you enter the deepest fjord in British Columbia, measuring 2402 feet (732 meters) deep.  Quite dramatic when you consider some of the walls of the fjord rise over 5900 feet (1800 meters) almost straight up out of the water.  Like the other inlets in the area, Jervis Inlet was carved out by glaciers following ancient river valleys to the sea.  It is made up of three arms or reaches – Prince of Wales Reach, Princess Royal Reach and Queen’s Reach.  Each reach makes an almost right angle turn from one to the other.

Princess Louisa Reach is a side inlet off Queen’s Reach.  At the end of Princess Louisa Reach is Chatterbox Falls, a popular tourist and boater’s destination.  Near to Chatterbox Falls is James Bruce Falls, thought to be the highest waterfall in North America at 2755 feet (840 meters).

Heading north up the mouth of Jervis Inlet 7 miles (11.24 km) you will find another set of pictographs about 40 feet (12 meters) above the waterline.  Another mile further is the entrance to Vancouver Bay.  On the north side of the bay is Marlborough Peak, 5905 feet (1800 meters). Turning into the bay offers a beautiful view of Mount Churchill, 6562 feet (2000 meters) and the Vancouver River Valley.

Vancouver Bay 4

Mount Churchill and the Skwákwee-em Healing Center in Vancouver Bay

Vancouver Bay was another seasonal village of the shíshálh’s (Sechelt’s) and was known as Skwákwee-em.  As with other village sites in Jervis Inlet, Skwákwee-em was located where there was a good beach, a supply of fresh water and favourable conditions to be able sustain a village i.e food supply and flat, open space.  In the 1860’s European settler’s started to move in and Catholic missionaries arrived to ‘improve’ the lives of the locals.  Unfortunately, one of the first things they brought was a smallpox epidemic that wiped out 90% of the native population.  By the 1881 census only 167 members still survived.  It was thought it was best to gather the remaining members to one central location (Sechelt).

Father Paul Durieu converted the remaining band members to Catholicism and started the now controversial residential school system.  In 1904 a residential school was built in Sechelt and native children were taken from their homes to attend.  The children were only allowed to speak English (even to their parents) and weren’t allowed to go home.  Parents could have a supervised visit only once a week for an hour or two.  The school operated right up to the 1960’s.  All traditional native artifacts were destroyed and native ceremonies were banned.

In the meantime, the new white arrivals realized the economical benefits of the old growth timber all along the inlet shore.  Logging camps started up and the most logical sites were the Indian villages. In most cases the native habitations were razed and the camp was built over the site.  Sympathetic attitudes towards native culture was sadly lacking during this period.  I’ve read accounts of logging companies bulldozing and flattening 30 foot middens to build camp work yards.  Skeletons and artifacts from native burial sites and villages were taken with little thought and sold or given to museums.  This continued right up to 1960 when the British Columbia Archaeological & Historical Sites Act came into law.

Vancouver River Valley

The Vancouver River Valley

In Vancouver Bay the first logging camp was started in 1889. By 1905 there was a narrow gauge railroad running up the Vancouver River Valley to haul out logs.  Between 1926 and 1930 more than 700 men with their wives and children were living in Vancouver Bay.  By 1980 the logging was done and the valley is quiet once more.  Vancouver Bay is still part of the shíshálh (Sechelt) reserve system and in 1983 a native healing centre was started there.

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The mouth of Vancouver Bay

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Misery Bay Pictographs

About 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of Misery Falls is a sheer cliff rising out of the ocean with another gallery of shíshálh (Sechelt) First Nation pictographs found on it.  These paintings are more elaborate than the first two sets.  The two-headed figure is once again believed to be Tchain’-ko.  Between the two heads is a depiction of a mountain goat.  Two deer, a tree, a face and other symbols can also be seen.

Pictograph - Salmon Inlet 1

 

Pictograph - Salmon Inlet 2

 

Pictograph - Salmon Inlet 3

 

Pictograph - Salmon Inlet 4

The head of Salmon Inlet is another 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east.  There you will find a BC Hydro dam built between the ocean and Clowhom Lake.  This dam was constructed in the 1950’s to supply additional power to a growing Sechelt.  Overlooking Salmon Inlet and Clowhom Lake is Clowhom Lodge, a fishing lodge that started in the 1930’s as a private enterprise.  It was rebuilt in 1980 and in 2000 became a commercial venture, though I’m not sure if it is still operating.

There have been years of logging activity in the area so there is definitely an industrial look to the head of the Inlet.  Looking on the bright side, it can be quite interesting to consider the engineering aspect of the dam and power project.  There were no roads to the dam site and all of the construction material needed to be barged in.  Power lines also had to be constructed from the dam to Sechelt, a distance of 22.5 miles (36 km) over some extremely difficult terrain.  These were pre-helicopter days so all the materials had to be winched up the mountainside.

All down the north side of Salmon Inlet is the Cheekye-Dunsmuir Power Transmission Line.  Built in the early 1980’s, it runs from the Cheekye sub-station near Squamish, BC to the Dunsmuir sub-station on Vancouver Island.  It is over 80 miles (126 km) long with a portion of it going under Georgia Straight.  It is quite amazing to see considering the terrain and difficult building conditions.

Salmon Inlet

Transmission lines in the upper right corner of the photo

The 13 mile (21.6 km) return trip down the north side of Salmon Inlet is more of a grand scale visual experience – the clouds, light, ocean, steep Inlet mountainsides, etc.  Beauty is always there if you look for it.

 

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The Old Glad Tidings Camp

Old Camp

From Nine Mile Point you now make a right and enter into Salmon Inlet.  A little over a mile up the south side of the inlet is the site of the old Glad Tidings Church Camp.  This place always leaves me with mixed emotions.  The area is absolutely beautiful but what has been done to it is very disheartening.  The property is a government Crown lease that was held by the Glad Tidings Church since the 1950’s I believe.  The church had been running it as a summer camp and had built cabins, a rustic but very attractive dining hall, a very large A-frame type structure for activities and equipment storage and numerous staff quarters.  During the summer of 1992 the camp was suddenly closed down because of health issues.

In September of 1992 I happened to be boating in the area and dropped in to see the camp.  I had just spent nine years as Property Manager/Maintenance Director at Keats Camps on Keats Island, so camp operations were of some interest to me.  The place looked as if everyone had been airlifted out with little notice.  The tables in the dining hall were still set, the covered dock had rows of life jackets hanging up.  In the staff quarters books and shoes were still beside the beds and clothes in the closets.  Already there had been some minor vandalism.  The toolroom door was broken open as was the storage building where the food was stored.  There was a backhoe in the A-frame and  if I remember correctly, a skidder.  The diesel generator building had also been broken into.  A sorry sight.

When we returned home we contacted the Glad Tidings Church in Vancouver and told them of the vandalism that we had seen and suggested that the site needed to be secured better.  They indicated that they were dealing with it.

I didn’t get back to the camp until 2008.  The dining hall had been torched (apparently by vandals in 2006) and the long dock had completely disappeared.  Most of the outbuilding were heavily vandalized.  In the A-frame the backhoe had been stripped and smashed with rocks and the entire building was in danger of collapse.  Very little was left of the diesel generator.  Once again we contacted the Glad Tidings organization, more this time to express our disgust.  We were told that they were also concerned and they were trying to formulate some sort of plan.

Very little had changed when this picture was taken in 2010 and it was obvious nothing more had been done to secure or clean up the camp site.  With my years of camp experience I know how hard it is to get funds to run and maintain a camp.  Much of the money comes through people’s tithes and donations.  It was difficult for me to see hundreds of thousand of dollars worth of resources abandoned and wasted and I think the Glad Tidings organization should be ashamed of itself.

There is conflicting information on whether Glad Tidings still holds the lease but recently there has been some very significant archaeological discoveries made in the area, in fact the camp had been built over an ancient burial site.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t an uncommon practice, especially with logging operations, prior to 1960.  It was then that the British Columbia government finally initiated the British Columbia Archaeological & Historical Sites Act.  This act made it a punishable offence to disturb or desecrate middens, burial sites, habitation sites, pictographs, etc.  Desecration is the perfect word for what I have seen happen at the church camp property and I think the government should rescind this government lease and put the land under the protection of the shíshálh (Sechelt) Nation, to the people who respect what they have and what they have been given.