The Broughton Archipelago

posted Sep 4, 2011, 8:50 PM by Richard Sevenich   [ updated Sep 11, 2011, 5:51 PM ]
We just returned from 5 nights at the Paddlers' Inn and 4 days of paddling in and in the vicinity of the Broughton Archipelago. After staying 2 nights in Lantzville at Eli's cousin's (to provide a grocery shopping day), we drove northwest toward Port McNeill. The forestry practices evident along the way featured extensive clearcutting. Although we saw some replanting (monoculture?), there was much terrain that will not come back anytime soon. Hopefully logging has generally improved and things of this sort are no longer allowed.

Access to the inn was via a 3 hour ride (each way) in the water taxi '8uffer Zone Too', Port McNeill <-> Paddlers' Inn.

Loading water taxi - port McNeill

Water taxi at the Paddlers' Inn

The inn featured hostel type accommodations and a communal kitchen. Our group of 12 had organized the evening meals beforehand, so the kitchen operated quite efficiently. Meeting and getting to know this diverse group of interesting/fascinating people was one of the very positive pieces of this experience. Dan Millsip's efforts to facilitate this trip are much appreciated.
Paddlers' Inn, water approach

The communal kitchen

The exceptional weather gave us dry, relatively calm paddling opportunities each day. Rain came through one night, but did not linger. The archipelago offers an extensive maze of islands, so repetitive trips were not necessary. All of us eventually made our way to Billy Proctor's bay, with its museum and other attractions - including Billy himself. But, in general, we paddled unpopulated routes featuring no close encounters with power boats or resorts. We saw lots of kelp, seals, and sea birds.

Typical conditions

Sunset view - a short walk from the inn

For me these days were a strange mix - the spiritual, meditative lift provided by paddling in a (superficially) pristine environment, contrasted with a quick lesson exposing the short sighted greed that is inexorably destroying life on sea and land, so closely linked here. Billy Proctor's book, 'Heart of the Raincoast' is a must read in this respect. Conversations with Bruce McMorran, owner/operator of Paddlers' Inn added further depth. This helped explain
  • the abruptly abandoned elementary school in Echo Bay
  • the multitude of empty float houses, recently intact, but rotting into the sea
  • the forest exploitation, particularly evident on huge Gilford Island
  • the concomitant destruction of salmon spawning habitat in nearly all streams
  • the foolish provincial rules that make a sustainable way of life impossible for locals while smoothing the way for corporations, often foreign
But this is the reality of resource extraction by corporate entities; greed, abetted by power and corruption, once again proves unstoppable.