Haida Gwaii Coastline, Photo Destination BC Owen Perry
Queen Charlotte City is located on Haida Gwaii. This stunning area is made up of two islands – Moresby Island and Graham Island – off the west coast of Northern British Columbia. Queen Charlotte is a charming fishing village located on Highway 16 along the shores of Bearskin Bay. A six hour ferry trip from the port city of Prince Rupert is the only way to access the island (other than by sea plane). The ferry only leaves the mainland coast of British Columbia three times a week so reservations are highly recommended.
Haida Gwaii is rich in wildlife in the sky and sea, and on land. While many of the animals are native, some – blacktail deer, elk, beavers, raccoons, and even wild cows in Naikoon Provincial Park – have been introduced. Among the native species, expect to see black bears, river otters, bald eagles, Steller jays, peregrine falcons, and many ocean creatures, from grey and killer whales to jellyfish and starfish. One of the best places to see the latter is in Burnaby Narrows on the east side of Moresby Island, accessible only by boat from Moresby camp.
Visitors can source out local art and great food in the funky shops and cafes. The Visitors gallery displays art by the Haida as well as other locals.
Queen Charlotte City is 6 km (4 mi) west of the ferry terminal on Highway 16. The Haida Gwaii islands are located to the west of the northern BC town of Prince Rupert.
The history of the Haida Gwaii population dates back between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, when the last ice age created low water levels around the islands. By around 5,000 years ago, the Haida population had become quite sizeable, and the economy consisted of hunting, fishing, and harvesting shellfish.
The abundance of shellfish allowed the Haida to establish more permanent villages. These villages stored food, tools, and other resources. This also led to the development of craftsmen who could devote more of their time to art.
Juan Perez, and Captain James cook visited the island in 1774, and 1778 respectively.
Captain George Green surveyed the islands in 1787, and named them after one of his ships, the Queen Charlotte. Haida Gwaii, which translates to “Islands of the Haida People”, has since replaced the colonial name “Queen Charlotte Islands”.
The islands thrived during the 18th and 19th century as a fur-trading centre; however, the introduction of smallpox had reduced the population from 12,000 to 700 by the beginning of the twentieth century.