Orcas Vancouver Island, Photo Destination BC Reuben Krabbe

Sayward

Sayward is a small coastal community on Kelsey Bay overlooking Johnstone Strait. 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. 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. Enjoy river rafting? The Salmon River is a popular river for exhilarating river rafting. In addition, the lakes and rivers offer a range of canoeing and kayaking routes. You can also 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.

Location

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.

A Step Back in Time

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.

Contact Information

Visit Sayward

Sayward & Nearby Accommodations

7 Listings

Mt H'Kusam View Lodge

Mt H'Kusam View Lodge

Sayward

Mt H’Kusam View Lodge is an affordable retreat combining the flavour of a hostel with the warmth of a wilderness lodge. Situated in the forest outside Sayward, our lodge is the ideal destination for guests wanting to escape city life. After a day of adventuring our beautiful location, relax by the ... Read more
Telegraph Cove Marina & RV Park

Telegraph Cove Marina & RV Park

Telegraph Cove

Location, Location! Nestled on the shores of Johnstone Strait with water access to the Broughton Archipelago protected marine park. Our 48 site RV Park features stunning ocean and cove views. All sites have 30 amp power, potable water and sewer hook ups. Our adjacent 70 slip marina features wide, st ... Read more
Telegraph Cove Resort Forest  Campground

Telegraph Cove Resort Forest Campground

Telegraph Cove

Home to one of the last boardwalk settlements on Vancouver Island, Telegraph Cove Resort & Campground rests on the eastern coast of Northern Vancouver Island. Located in the picturesque village of Telegraph Cove, guests are spoiled with historic colourful buildings, breathtaking ocean views and a sp ... Read more
Alder Bay RV Park & Marina

Alder Bay RV Park & Marina

Port McNeill

Relax and enjoy the fabulous North Island scenery. Experience spectacular sunsets, watch eagles soar and whales swim by your doorstep. Salmon fishing and bottom fishing are minutes away – the ideal location for the ideal holiday. Stroll the boardwalk in nearby Telegraph Cove or visit historic Aler ... Read more
Fair Harbour Marina & Campground

Fair Harbour Marina & Campground

Zeballos

Fair Harbour is the gateway to Kyuquot Sound. The area is renowned for kayaking, wildlife viewing, fishing and camping. Fair Harbour is the perfect place to stage your remote west coast adventure from. ... Read more
Port Hardy RV Resort

Port Hardy RV Resort

Port Hardy

Visiting beautiful Port Hardy? Have Port Hardy RV Resort as your base for exploring the surrounding areas. We offer clean and comfortable accommodations, including log cabins and RV and camping sites. Catch sight of eagles soaring in the sky and other wildlife roaming in the wilderness. Our selectio ... Read more
Quatse River Regional Park & Campground

Quatse River Regional Park & Campground

Port Hardy

Quatse River Regional Park & Campground is on the banks of the Quatse River near downtown Port Hardy. It is part of a richly forested Regional Park containing old growth trees and the associated wild flora and fauna. Revenue generated in the campground goes directly into salmon enhancement activitie ... Read more
Travel Spotlight
Camping Lodging

The Super Camping / Select Lodging Guide

First Published in 1989