Sayward was first established in the 1890s at the mouth of the Salmon River and was called Port H'Kusum. Settlers began arriving and pushing inland, spreading into the valley. One of the early settlers, Otto Sacht, established a trading post up the river in 1904. He opened a post office in his store, calling it Salmon River. In 1911, the settlement was officially named Sayward after William Parsons Sayward, a pioneer lumberman who came to Vancouver Island in 1858. Although he never visited the Sayward area, the government of the day decided he deserved to be honoured and so named the community after him. At the time the settlers arrived, there was a small native village on the Salmon River. By 1917, the village was empty and today the reserve is unoccupied, with most descendants living in nearby communities.
Railroad logging started around 1904 and continued through 1914. The rail line became a wagon road which people used to take to reach their homesteads. In 1937 a railroad line was built on the opposite side of the valley. Over time, this line was also closed and became the basis of the current truck road.
As with all communities on the North Island, Sayward was only easily accessible by water. It was not until after World War II that a gravel road connected Sayward with Campbell River and not until 1979 that a paved road connected the North Island.
Logging is still the primary industry, but tourism continues to grow and gain in importance.
The community of Sayward is located on the east coast of north Vancouver Island, 73 km (45 mi) north of Campbell River and 178 km (110 mi) south of Port Hardy. It is accessed by a 10 km (6 mi) paved road off Island Highway 19. Sayward can also be reached by boat at Kelsey Bay.
The world's only structure made entirely of logging cable. The walls contain 8,200 feet of wire rope and the building weighs almost 26 tonnes. It is surrounded by antique logging equipment of yesteryear.
An easy drive 1.5 hours north of Sayward, the North Island Forestry Centre offers visitors the opportunity to participate in tours of working forest operations. It also offers a museum, videos and nature walks. There are several tours, including a bus tour of a working forest. Reservations are required.
At the end of the old Island Highway, a well-worn trail leads to the locally known "Gentries Pool" where you can lay on white sand, snorkel with the salmon, or swim. Take a picnic lunch and an umbrella and make a day of it.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the pathway winding by Sayward's estuary and you'll find a variety of wildlife! Count the species of birds and other wild animals who make their home in this beautiful natural environment. Don't forget your camera.
About 4 km (2.5 mi) from the Highway junction, you will find a bit of Sayward history. The original hall, built in 1922, has been replaced by a modern hall. But the grounds preserve important events, such as the Coronation Oak (commemorating the 1936 coronation of King George VI) and the Centennial Plaque (1967). Picnic tables sit in a lovely grove of trees. Many community events are held in the hall and the grounds.
Enjoy a guided marine wildlife trip up scenic Johnstone Strait to the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve on a quest to locate and observe killer whales, eagles, bears, and other wildlife in their natural habitat. Bird watching is also popular at the Salmon River Wildlife Reserve and fishing and whale watching from the Port of Kelsey Bay wharf.
See the largest cypress ("yellow cedar") tree in the world, located in valleys south of Sayward. There are many active logging roads, so suitable vehicles and driving precautions are necessary. Maps for self-directed tour are available at the Visitor Centre and at local businesses.
At the corner of Sabre Road, the Mt. H'Kusam trail is 23 km (14 mi) and rises to an altitude of 1,700 m (5,481 ft) and has many spectacular viewpoints for photographs or for just catching your breath. Allow 6 hours for this trip, and bring mountain hiking gear. A newly completed route allows for a circle hike of the mountain, taking about 12-14 hours. The trailhead for the Dalrymple Creek Trail is located 8 km south of the Sayward Junction on Highway 19, where Dalrymple Creek crosses the highway. The self-guided forest interpretation trail leads you on a 500 m (1,640 ft) peaceful walk through a changing forest.
The Salmon River is a popular river for exhilarating river rafting in the Sayward community, and the lakes and rivers offer a range of canoeing and kayaking routes.
Rainbow's End Golf Course in Sayward is a 9-hole executive course that weaves through beautiful wooded areas beside the pristine Salmon River. Most holes are par 3 and two are par 4.
Spend the day skiing and snowboarding in unbelievable powder at Mt. Cain Ski Resort (5,400 feet), located southwest of Sayward, 25 minutes west off the Sayward Junction along Highway 19. It's a 16-kilometre drive on a gravel road from the highway to the day lodge (3,900 feet), with chains mandatory on the last 10 kilometres. Mount Cain offers a unique experience for skiers, snowboarders and backcountry explorers, with virtually no line-ups for lifts, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. The community-run Mt. Cain is located in a regional park, and is ideal for families and snow enthusiasts of all skill levels. The Mt. Cain resort usually opens from November to April.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia