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Haida Gwaii: A Majestic Jewel of B.C.

Once there, wonders await.

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You don’t just “happen” to Haida Gwaii.

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Visiting the network of islands off the north coast of BC requires specified intent and a fair amount of advance planning.

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But once there, wonders await.

An archipelago called – an archipelago located about 100 kilometers from the BC mainland across the Hecate Strait Zaida Gwai Yai In Haida – consists of about 150 islands, the largest of which are Moresby and Graham.

Stretching about 300 kilometers from north to south, Haida Gwaii is a majestic jewel of nature and indigenous history.

Travel to the region is enhanced through itineraries offered by Haida Tourism, a wholly owned business of Haida Enterprise Corp. (HaiCo). With his two resorts, Haida House and Ocean House, the company offers immersive Aboriginal experiences that include accommodations, day tours, cultural experiences, and more. yagdanmeans “respect for the interdependence that unites us with all living things” in Haida.

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The view from Torhill.
The view from Torhill. Photo by Alisha Harris /PNG

adventure into nature

The undeniable attraction of Haida Gwaii is its unparalleled connection with nature. The remote archipelago is home to a wide variety of animals, from birds to bears to whales.

A nature walk led by Canadian bird expert Fred Collins provided a glimpse of the many species that call the forests and waterways of Haida Gwaii home. Collins guided our small group through the land around his house in the Haida of Toral, despite a stormy day of rain and high winds.

Talking excitedly about the animals that call the area home, Mr. Collins excitedly points to numerous evidences of wildlife, from black bear-scratched moss mounds to potential auk nesting sites. Paused the nature walk.

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In addition to animal encounters, Haida Gwaii is a veritable hiker’s paradise, boasting countless trails and parks to discover.

Near the northern tip of Graham Island and east of Musset Village, Nay Khun Provincial Park is one of the most spectacular and perhaps most photographed views of the Haida Gwaii.

Tow Hills, volcanic plugs about 125 meters high, separate the peninsula. The 15-30 minute hike follows a 1.5 km long wooden plank and step path. At the top, stunning views of the beach and ocean coastline below await. The area also has camping and picnic areas.

Keenawise Kitchen starter plate.
Keenawise Kitchen starter plate. Photo by Alisha Harris /PNG

experience the taste

Haida Gwaii’s culinary draw is undoubtedly seafood. But the island’s forests also offer something worth noting.

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At Haida House, Chef Brodie Swanson looks to local nature to nourish guests and visiting diners. The menu highlighted delights such as spruce-tip butter gathered from the new growth of the surrounding trees and pea shoots from the property’s garden.

Roberta Olson presents authentic Haida cuisine at her home restaurant Keenawise Kitchen. Located in the southern village of Skidegate, Olson offers an intimate dining experience similar to dining with her family and friends. In fact, her owners are assisted by her various family members in preparing, procuring and serving her meals.

The night we ate there Olson served a starter of dried salmon (Gilgi), bannock, dried seaweed (Sugu) and herring roe kelp (Khaaw). The bite size pieces were served in picture perfect half scallop shells. A steamer of delightfully simple halibut and potato soup followed.

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Celebrating the local bounty with her family’s collection of ‘wild delicacies’, the main course featured Haida-style entrees with bite-sized venison, salmon, rice and wild sea asparagus. rice field.

Gwaai Edenshaw works on a Haida Gwaii totem pole.
Gwaai Edenshaw works on a Haida Gwaii totem pole. Photo by Alisha Harris /PNG

witness a piece of history

No visit to Haida Gwaii is complete without a visit to the Haida Gwaii Museum.

The impressive structure at Skidegate is the epicenter of historical knowledge for the island and the people of Haida. Driven by a desire to express the “complex links between land, sea, human and supernatural beings”, the destination offers a range of cultural experiences, including an introduction to the unique Haida language. To do. The fact that about 24 people still speak fluently today – indigenous arts, repatriation, etc.

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Beyond the walls of the museum, a unique opportunity to further understand the importance of totem poles can be gleaned by a visit to the Sculpture Hut.

Organized through Haida Tourism, we were welcomed into the operation of the famous Haida artists Gwaii and Jalen Edenshaw’s Old Musset. A mentee to the late Haida artist Bill Reed, Gwaai explained that he spent most of his life honing his skills as a sculptor. The brothers worked on a large totem, his pole, sculpting, mounting and painting as they worked towards completion.

It felt like an honor to be given the opportunity to see the representation of Haida’s storytelling and the ongoing creation of Pole, a visual memorial to aspects of history, people and ancestors.

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Due to inclement weather, our Zodiac boat excursion to Gwai Haanas National Park Reserve has been cancelled. Skedan (Ḵ’uuna Llnagaay), once had more than 26 Haida tenements. Early visits to the area, dating back to the 1800s, yielded a record of over 53 totem poles for him at Skedans. It is said that several memorial towers and mortuary towers remain today.

However, the disappointment of the itinerary change due to weather was quickly tempered by the realization that the missed visit would be yet another reason to return to the magical islands of Haida Gwaii.


If you go:

access: There are two ways to get to Haida Gwaii: by plane or by boat. Flights arrive from Vancouver (YVR) and Prince Rupert (YPR). Air Canada operates daily flights from YVR Main Terminal to Sandspit International Airport (YZP). Pacific Coastal Airlines, meanwhile, operates daily flights between YVR South Terminal and Masset Municipal Airport (ZMT). Inland Air Charter operates regular flights from Prince Rupert to Musset. BC Ferries also offers year-round regular service from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii, and regular pedestrian, cyclist and car ferries between Moresby and Graham Islands. Advance reservations are highly recommended.

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Accommodation: There are several small motels and bed and breakfasts on the island. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in indigenous culture, consider booking one of Haida Tourism’s two lodgings, Haida House in Toral or Ocean House in Musset. Owned and operated by Haida Enterprises Corporation, which is 100% owned by Haida, these properties offer a la carte and all-inclusive packages that focus on the food, history and culture of Haida Gwaii. For more information, visit Haidatourism.ca.

Walking around: Transportation on Haida Gwaii is limited. For example, there is only one taxi company, Gwaii Taxi & Tours (250-559-2380). Haida Gwaii has no public transportation. If you are thinking of renting a car, please make a reservation as soon as possible. Daajing Giids (formerly Queen Charlotte) has three rental companies, one in Sandspit and two in Masset. Bikes can be rented at the Sandspit Visitor Information Centre. Looking for a long-term adventure? Consider renting an RV through Haida Gwaii Vehicle & RV Rentals (250-637-1202).

The author is a guest of the Indigenous Tourism Board BC and did not read or approve this article prior to its publication.

Aharris@postmedia.com

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Haida Gwaii: A Majestic Jewel of B.C.

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