“One way to think of Haida Gwaii is as a village of 4,500 hardy, unique characters who live in seven neighbourhoods spread up and down the Islands,” says the team at gohaidagwaii.ca. “The ocean and the forest are our larder, the ferries are our connection to the mainland and the ferry lineup is one of our gathering points where we socialize and politic with a coffee cup in hand.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves … amazing!
Haida Gwaii, previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, is an archipelago off British Columbia’s west coast. Wildlife-rich Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site includes remote islands and temperate rainforest. Centuries-old totem poles stand in the remains of the Haida Nation village known as SGang Gwaay Llnagaay.
You won’t find any fast food, big box stores or large hotel chains here… but you will find concerts, artisan fairs, coffee houses, trails, beaches and plentiful events throughout the Islands.
We suggest you start here: Located on Haida Nation land and nestled within beautiful Naikoon Park, Hiellen Longhouse Village offers seven traditional-style Haida longhouse cabins and a main Haida longhouse. Each has been carefully designed and built to provide comfortable, cozy, pet-friendly accommodations on beautiful Haida Gwaii.
The next stop: Housed in a restored heritage building, the Dixon Entrance Maritime Museum offers a look back at the early settlement and maritime history of the Greater Massett area. The museum features exhibits on the history of this seafaring community, with displays on shipbuilding, medical pioneers, military history and nearby clam and crab canneries. Local artists also exhibit work here.
• This storm-battered archipelago of 150 rocky islands off BC’s west xoast is Haida territory and tricky to access, only adding to its allure. The area is nicknamed Canada’s Galapagos for its diverse plant and animal life. The totem pole and longhouse remains are some of the oldest authentic examples of coastal First Nations villages.
• Discover dramatic landscapes, abundant wildlife and some of the world’s richest heritage treasures with more than 500 archeological sites. Haida Gwaii’s climate produces lush vegetation and abundant wildlife. Groups of Sitka deer feed on the grassy clearings along the Queen Charlotte Highway and eagles fly overhead in spring and summer.
• The Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Llnagaay celebrates the living culture of the Haida. Through their language, art and stories they share their relationship with the land and sea. Kay Llnagaay protects and fosters Haida culture by reaffirming their traditions and beliefs, encouraging artistic expression and serving as a keeper of all that they are.
The summers are short and cool, and winters are long, cold, wet and windy.
Destination BC is developing a new campaign to promote hyper-local travel where residents are “tourists-in-their own hometown,” while practising the COVID-19 safety protocols as recommended by the B.C. Provincial Health Officer. Many B.C. parks are now open, and national parks were to open as of June 1.
(Check this website for current details on travel.)
The islands are most easily approached via a two-hour flight from Vancouver. You can also take the eight-hour ferry ride (cars allowed) from Prince Rupert, B.C., to Skidegate, a Haida village located five miles east of Queen Charlotte.