Bella Bella is situated on Campbell Island south-west of Ocean
Falls, north of Port
Hardy and west of Bella Coola
with the small First Nations' community, Klemtu, 83 km (52 miles)
farther to the north.
Bella Bella, or called by the traditional name of 'Waglisla,' is
located in an area of the central British Columbia coastline called
the 'Great Bear Rainforest.' This vast landmass contains very dense
rainforests and was put aside as a wilderness-protected zone through
careful negotiations with the various stakeholders including several
First Nations' affiliations and the British Columbia government.
European settlement in the area started in 1833 with a Hudson's
Bay Company (HBC) post called Fort McLoughlin named after John McLoughlin,
who later became an American citizen and is credited to be the 'Father
of Oregon.' Fort McLoughlin was later abandoned by HBC and, in 1843,
burned to the ground.
Bella Bella is home to the largest First Nation population on the
central coastline of BC with the Heiltsuk Tribal Council and Reserve
1 having a population of 1,066 (2006 - Census). The Heiltsuk Tribal
Council also has smaller reserves on Denny Island and has a strong
presence in the immediate area and has developed various industries
based on fisheries and eco-tourism including kayaking tours and
exploring in the 'Great Bear Rainforest.'
Bella Bella Services
Some services that you'll find in Bella Bella include a bank, the
post office officially named 'Waglisla,' an RCMP detachment, the
RW Large Memorial Hospital, a medical clinic, a small pharmacy and
a general store that offers a wide array of products including a
few hardware items.
Cultural Education Centre
For an introduction into the history and traditions of the Heiltsuk
Tribal Council, go to the Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre which
is situated inside the Bella Bella Community School building. Here
you can find an array of local teachings and First Nation heritage
regarding the ways of the land and ocean.
Throughout the community various carvings are on display showing
the Heiltsuk. One place of learning about First Nation tradition
is at McLoughlin Bay where there is a 'big house,' along with an
interpretive centre concerning the history of the Heiltsuk.
Bella Bella (Waglisla) is also home to a number of noted British
Columbian First Nation artists including J. Bradley Hunt and his
son Bradley. J. Bradley Hunt has brought the heritage and pride
of the Heiltsuk alive through his surreal computer animations in
the award-winning film called Totem Talk, a story depicting three
First Nation teens living in an urban setting.
Shearwater is a small fishing resort community located across Lama
Pass from Bella Bella on Denny Island by around 5 km (3 miles).
The small community can be accessed from Bella Bella by private
boat, private aircraft using the small air strip or by the Shearwater
Seabus a 33-passenger water taxi that commutes between the government
wharf on Campbell Island and Denny Island more or less on a scheduled
service every 1.5 hours depending on flight conditions and schedules.
Resort and Marina
For entertainment close to Bella Bella there is the Fishermen's
Bar & Grill at the Shearwater Resort and Marina. The Shearwater
Resort and Marina, a well-managed facility, also has moorage for
pleasure craft, a small grocery store and has the local RV Park
Unfortunately there are no roads into Bella Bella and the central
BC coastline but you can take a vehicle aboard BC Ferries from either
Port Hardy on Vancouver Island or summer-only sailings from Bella
Coola. Just remember that once on Campbell Island or Denny Island
there are very few roads to explore and respect to the Heiltsuk
Tribal Council lands must be maintained.
You can also take daily air service offered from Pacific Coastal
Airlines departing Vancouver's South Terminal via Port Hardy to
the Bella Bella Airport.
on Bella Bella