The history of Campbell River and Region is one of exploration, discovery, extreme fortitude, pioneering, entrepreneurship, and independence. The people of the region are proud of their heritage and the relics of the past can be found within them as the cultural stories and traditions have been passed on for generations.
Historical conservation is a priority, and treasures of the past have been lovingly restored, preserved and put out on displays in many locations throughout the region.
First Nations peoples have lived in this area for at least 8,000 years. The abundant forests and waterways amply provided sources of food, clothing and shelter. In villages connected by their ocean highway, the indigenous peoples developed rich cultural traditions which remain alive, visible and vibrant today. Visit the Nuyumballees Cultural Centre on Quadra Island to understand the traditions and values of local First Nations groups, marvel over the dignified totem poles, search for Petroglyphs, and appreciate the artwork on display throughout the communities.
The Region boasts the names of the 18th century British and Spanish explorers and their ships that plied the waters looking for the Northwest Passage. Your guide map is a treasure hunt for those with a penchant for European history. Visit Yuquot, otherwise known as Friendly Cove, to learn more about Captain James Cook who arrived in 1778 on H.M.S. Resolution and traded furs with Chief Maquinna and the Mowachaht people. Between 1778 and 1795 Nootka Sound became one of the most famous points on the West Coast of North America.
Learn about the hardy and industrious people of the 1900s that settled in the rugged landscape of the central north island alongside the First Nations. Relive the boom and bust era of the gold rush in Zeballos through the collection of stories and artifacts found in the Zeballos Heritage Museum and in the encroaching rain forest around the community. Watch the video about the site of the largest non-nuclear explosion in history when 1,400 tons of dynamite blasted away a boat-hull-eating hazard known as Ripple Rock that was in the centre of busy Seymour Narrows, the area's busiest marine traffic route.
Spend the day in Campbell River visiting the Campbell River Museum with its many fine exhibits, Maritime Heritage Centre where the restored BCP150 resides, and reading the historical markers that line the streets in the downtown core.
Understand why Campbell River is called the Salmon Capital of the world by trying to catch a 30lb salmon in a rowboat with a single barbless hook and a 20lb or less test line in the Tyee Clubs' "pool". Visit the Haig-Brown Heritage Site to pay respects to Roderick Haig-Brown, who was a man ahead of his time in his concern for the environment and became an active spokesperson for the principles of conservation, particularly regarding rivers and salmon.
Ply the waters of Nootka Sound on the historical Uchuck III. Her current name means Healing Waters in the Nootkan language, and she was built originally in Oregon as an American Mine Sweeper in 1942, but was eventually refitted to accommodate 100 passengers and up to 100 tons of freight (cargo). This sturdy work horse has been serving the Sound for over 50 years by delivering cargo and passengers to the remote logging camps and settlements.
Heritage and Art often go hand in hand and much of the region's art is a reflection of elements of the past with an entrepreneurial and innovative twist. Art uses many different forms of media here including glass, ceramic, wood, shells, soapstone, plaster, and traditional metals such as copper.
Some artists practice the crafts of their cultural heritage, such as jewelry making, while others are using their talents and imaginations to explore new avenues. From masks and pottery to custom guitars, there is something for every person to appreciate. Campbell River embraces its art community and proudly displays both purchased and donated artwork throughout the community.
Those who are in Campbell River for a special event or festival may even be lucky to see the exquisite Spirit of The River Torch, which was offered as a gift from a local artist to the community as a symbol of the light and hope found in our younger generations.
The Quadra Island Studio Tour is an excellent opportunity to sample the imaginations, muses, and techniques of local artists. Visit the Campbell River Public Art Gallery, or one of the many private and commercial galleries and studios throughout the region. Purchase local First Nations art at Wei Wai Kum House of Treasures.