The Village of Winter Harbour is located 73 km (46 miles) west of
Port Hardy on the north-western tip
of Vancouver Island.
To get here, you have to travel from Port Hardy on the well-marked
gravel Holberg Road. From Holberg, watch
for the continuing signs to Cape
Scott Provincial Park and Winter Harbour through the village
then, once past the Salmon Hatchery, watch for the turn south and
travel on a very rough gravel forestry road to Winter Harbour.
Winter Harbour is a small community mostly relying on the guiding
and fantastic sport fisheries in the adjacent water on Vancouver
Island's northern west coast. It started off in the late 1800's
as an outpost for passage to and from the communities off Cape Scott
and Quatsino Sound. The sheltered harbour provided a safe passage
for sailing vessels plying the waters off British Columbia.
The small village, like a lot of other BC coastal communities, was
built near or on docks with wooden boardwalks on stilts connecting
the residences and buildings along the waterfront. This is the easiest
method for getting around in Winter Harbour and brings a number
of potential opportunities for wildlife and scenery viewing or photography
along the waterfront.
There is a campground operated by the Mount Waddington Regional
District as soon as you enter Winter Harbour from the road coming
from Holberg. It is called Kwaksistah Regional Park and offers,
for a small fee, some very large somewhat private sites amongst
a fairly damp west coast atmosphere. There are few amenities but
it does have pit-toilets and somewhere to put garbage, although
not the proper bear-proof style, a concrete boat launch for small
crafts, areas for fires and two sheltered barbecues.
Kwaksistah Regional Park is also the site of a very historic First
Nations meeting place. Readily available to the ocean, the site
features 150-year-old cedar stumps, possibly used by the habitants
for dugout canoe use. The Kwaksistah Regional Park is dedicated
to the memories of Billy and Jessie George who were lost at sea
on July 8, 1969. A lot of the carvings in the BC Centennial project
are by Billy's nephew, Simon Wallace.
Outpost at Winter Harbour
For supplies and help, there is a small store called the Outpost
at Winter Harbour that has a few grocery items, fishing gear, bait,
available moorage, boat fuel, a liquor agency and some very unique
items for sale. The owners are very friendly, offer guide service
from here plus accommodation including some RV sites and the building
seems to be the main social point in Winter Harbour.
Rivers Fishing Resort
There are a number of guiding services that operate out of Winter
Harbour including the Outpost. Qualicum Rivers Fishing Resort operates
a large facility along the waterfront next to the Winter Harbour
Harbour Authority. Qualicum Rivers Fishing Resort always seems to
have a buzz about it from the guests, especially in times of good
You can find other guide services and moorage available through
Winter Harbour Lodge. The lodge is only 10 minutes away from the
fishing grounds and is situated next to the general store at the
Outpost and the fuel docks. The Winter Harbour Lodge also has a
number of waterfront RV sites.
Stuart Memorial Building
In Winter Harbour you can find a small library and community room
located at the Gordon Stuart Memorial Building. As cell phone service
does not work in Winter Harbour, you can also find a much-needed
public phone here.
Scott Provincial Park
For exploring in the area, try visiting the hike into San Josef
Bay from the Cape Scott Provincial Park parking lot, located approximately
35 km (22 miles) from Winter Harbour. Here you can find a hike into
a beautiful sandy beach with a number of wildlife viewing opportunities.
If you are travelling by vehicle, especially by RV or with a boat
or trailer, store everything away securely or expect to have a few
items dislodged in your unit as you make your way to Winter Harbour
as the road can be very rough, sometimes taking up to 1.5 hours
travel time all depending on the vehicle used, road conditions,
the weather and the unexpected. You can also expect to see Black
Bears in habituating the bush along the road going into Winter Harbour.
on Winter Harbour