The Museum Cruises Through History – Kelsey Bay and Beyond

The Museum at Campbell River’s summer boat tours are designed to get people out on the water and out to see areas that they normally may not be able to explore, while learning about local history.  This is especially true of their newest trip – a boat cruise out of Kelsey Bay that will take passengers over to Hardwicke Island, around Yorke Island and up to Port Neville.

The trip begins in Campbell River, where Discovery Marine Safaris’ bus takes passengers by road to Kelsey Bay.  On August 12th, 2012 I went along as historical interpreter.  On the way, I pointed out historical highlights that include the now closed Catalyst Pulp and Paper Mill; Menzies Bay – named after Captain Vancouver’s botanist, Archibald Menzies; Brown’s Bay Marina and Resort which was logged by Baikie Brothers logging in the 1930s and 40s, then became a resort in 1954; and Robert’s Lake Resort, still operated by a member of the Duncan family of Sayward.

Passing through Sayward, travellers see the famous Cable Cookhouse, built in the early 1960s and will arrive at the Port of Kelsey Bay which was the home of Salmon River Logging in the late 1930s then later, was a BC ferry terminal.   Here, guide and passengers got on board Discovery Marine Safaris’ comfortable boat the Tenacious III, skippered by the capable and knowledgeable Captain Shaun.  The boat has an upper viewing deck, is heated, and equipped with a washroom.  Refreshments are provided on board.

Across from Kelsey Bay is Hardwicke Island, where the Bendickson Logging company thrived for several decades, and where bunkhouses from the Yorke Island fort were floated over and used as part of the logging camp.  The original jail from Yorke Island can be seen from the bay.  It once housed Hardwicke Island’s primary school teacher and has now been converted into a summer home.

From Hardwicke, we travelled up the east side of Yorke Island, once site of a World War II fort.  The boat stopped at Port Neville, where everyone had a chance to walk up to the original historic Hansen homestead, which houses a private museum.  On the return trip, the boat took us past Yorke Island on the west side where the Observation Post, a remnant of the Yorke Island fort, can be clearly seen from the water.  Cameras are a must.

The Museum is offering trips on Sundays in August.  For the 2015 schedule, visit http://crmuseum.ca/historic-boat-tours.  To reserve call 250-287-3103.

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