Super Camping British Columbia
Super Camping British Columbia

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Hidden Gem Waterways in BC for the History Buff

By Karla Lant

Travel back in time with us for this latest installment of our hidden gems waterways in BC series. This time we’re covering the best hidden waterways for avid history buffs exploring British Columbia, so sit back and enjoy this ride through the past.

Haida Gwaii, North and Central Coast

Pesuta Shipwreck, Haida Gwaii

Pesuta Shipwreck, Haida Gwaii by Karen Neoh

Pesuta Shipwreck, Tlell River, Naikon Provincial Park

In 1928 during a wicked storm, the Pesuta, a log barge which had started her life as a steam ship, wrecked and washed ashore along the Haida Gwaii archipelago on the North Coast of British Columbia. To get to this amazing land-based shipwreck you hike through the temperate rainforest of the Naikon Provincial Park along the ten kilo Pesuta Shipwreck Trail. You’ll follow the Tlell River and eventually land at the wreck of the 264-foot log barge and the pebbly sand beach. Despite almost 100 years of punishing local coastal weather you can still see the bow of the ship and various metal portholes—a unique shipwreck experience on land.


Ogopogo of Lake Okanagan

Lake Okanagan itself is a popular destination, but if you’d like to do something unusual there, visit the Kelowna area during the off season to investigate the mystery of Ogopogo, the alleged Canadian cousin of the Loch Ness Monster. Ogopogo means “Lake Demon” in Salish, signaling the advanced age of this watery mystery. Said to live in an underwater cave near Rattlesnake Island across the lake from Peachland, rent a boat, canoe, or kayak at a local outfit and check out this myth for yourself.


The Paint Pots, Kootenay National Park

The Paint Pots, Kootenay National Park by Kimon Berlin

Radium Hot Springs, Valley of a Thousand Peaks

For a journey into strange and fascinating local culture and history, travel to Radium Hot Springs. There you’ll not only be able to relax and enjoy the hot springs, but also visit the Home of A Thousand Faces. This tribute to mountain culture and art is the home of Rolf Heer, the Radium Woodcarver, whose medium is chainsaw sculpture. Nearby Radium is Kootenay National Park, home of The Paint Pots, where you can hike the trail to what is now a First Nations’ sacred site, where a natural yellow ochre was collected by the natives, mixed with oils and used to create colorful paints.  Whether you come for the hot springs or the history this is a stunning area of British Columbia to visit.

Vancouver, Coast & Mountains

Part of the breakwater on Powell River, BC

Part of the breakwater on Powell River, BC by Coffeerob

S.S. Peralta, Powell River

Visit Powell River on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia and in particular the Malaspina Strait to see ten concrete war ships forming a massive semicircle breakwater. Nine of these ten relics are World War II souvenirs, with the 92-year old S. S. Peralta being the biggest and oldest concrete ship from the U.S. that still exists. She was launched for use as an oil tanker in February of 1921, and was then sent to can sardines in Alaska in 1924. By 1958 the ship was part of the Powell River’s floating breakwater, intended to protect the log storage pond of local logging interests. Plans to sink the ships and create reefs were considered and rejected early in the 21st century, and so the historical breakwater remains.

North Vancouver Island

Telegraph Cove

Telegraph Cove by David Stanley

Telegraph Cove

Permanent residents of Telegraph Cove rest at about 20, and this is a tiny place that time left behind. You’ll love the historic buildings of the salmon saltery and lumber mill, and while the town was once a fishing village, it is now centered squarely on eco-tourism. That’s good news for you, because in addition to seeing the cool blasts from the past there are lots of things you can enjoy in Telegraph Cove, including aboriginal cultural experiences, bear watching, caving, diving, fishing, hiking, kayaking, and whale watching.


Are you ready to soak up some amazing history in British Columbia? Check out these wonderful hidden waterways in BC for the history buff and let us know what you thought of them after you go.

Go to Hidden Gem Waterways for Fishing in British Columbia and Hidden Gem Waterways for the Hiker for the previous installments.

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Published: August 17, 2016
Last Updated: December 7, 2023


About the Author

Karla Lant is an experienced freelance writer, author, journalist and editor, and an adjunct professor. She is also an avid cook and baker and a homeschooling parent of a child who loves to run wild in the great outdoors. In her spare time she loves to create new recipes, explore new hobbies, and visit new places with her daughter.


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