We explored the north of Vancouver Island for a few days, meandering through coastal villages such as Campbell River, Telegraph Cove and Port Hardy. Telegraph Cove’s tiny community of 20 was a former fishing village and sawmill. Today you can hire one of the original wooden houses which stand on stilts on the edge of the ocean. Each house has a plaque outside, relating it’s history and taking you back to primitive and harsh times. It’s a prime tourist spot now because of its accessibility to ecological reserves, where you can view orca whales and bears. We were fortunate to have been allowed to view the whale museum, despite it being under renovation. That’s where we saw giant whale skeletons and a bald eagle display.
From Port McNeill we chose a logging road to get to Port Hardy and being off the beaten track gifted us our first bald eagle sighting in the wild! To see them up close and in their natural habitat was simply Devine!!! The bald eagle is the national bird of the USA and quite impressive, being the largest raptor after the condor. It’s body is about a metre tall and it’s wingspan about two metres wide. Our first sighting was of a juvenile and its parents, then we saw so many more eagles flying above us as we were riding over the coming days…
Our accomodation in Port Hardy was a backpackers which served the most divine tea, the host saying he was very familiar with Aussie, Kiwi and British tourists. He advised us about things to explore, so we set off first to visit Fort Rupert, a First Nation Reserve. Totem poles are prominent all over British Colombia, but in the reserve we saw them in their most common forms within the community. They’re monuments created as signboards, memorials or genealogical records. We saw them outside homes, the community hall, in front of the school and in a grave yard. They were relating stories and it was just a taster for the history we were to learn about later at the museum in Campbell River.
Campbell River Museum is a little gem in an idyllic setting, with stunning views of the ocean. We loved walking amongst the exhibits, reading and learning about First Nation history and marvelling at how unfairly it plays out in comparison to Settler history. We touched a tree stump which was over 1000 years old, another story played out unfairly due to logging.
We crossed the 50th Parallel in Campbell River, the circle of latitude 50 degrees north of the equator. It was a reminder of just how far we are from home…>12000km… the long days and cold weather testament to that!
Paul reflected on how prominent the eagle is in the First Nation art and totem poles, saying he could relate to it’s overwhelming beauty and power. It was simply incredible for us to see so many of these beautiful creatures in nature, looking up at them flying ahead of us as we rode along…feeling like we were indeed flying with eagles.