We have just returned from a whirlwind tour of the northern parts of Vancouver Island, visiting three very remote communities in the short span of three days, traveling over 1,000 kilometers and seeing things that have left a permanent and profound impact on us.  This experience will follow us all our lives.  Along with a trip of this nature, we find ourselves with new memories that we hope to share here with you on our blog in the coming months.  The sheer number of photographs we took far exceeds anything we’ve ever done before, and completing and managing such a large catalog is an undertaking in and of itself.  But as with anything in life, you start at the beginning.

Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada –

One of the best parts about the explorations that Mrs. Toad and I find ourselves on is how each and every adventure is absolutely unique.  Expectations are always exceeded, and magic is found at nearly every corner.  Such is life on the west coast of Canada.  No two places are ever the same, and each is happy to share a little of the mystique that has created it with those who seek it.

During our visit to Alert Bay, which is a very short ferry ride from Port McNeill near the northern end of Vancouver Island, we were told by locals that the community is considered to be one of the oldest active communities in the area.  Northern Vancouver Island, and the tiny islands that surround it, is home to kilometer upon kilometer of uninhabited forest, dotted with various communities as you travel the main roads.  The further north you find yourself, the further the distance between communities.

This was our summer vacation, one we had been planning for many months.  It was precipitated by our ongoing work on our “Anglican Church Project” as we were invited to visit both Port McNeill and Alert Bay to shoot the churches there.  We knew it was going to be an exciting trip, but we had no idea how exciting it would be.

The picture above is a wonderful example of this.  As we were working on photographing the church in the middle of a drizzly day on the west coast of Canada, Mrs. Toad kept a keen eye outside the church for anything of interest.  We sure didn’t have to wait for long.  Just as we began to shoot the church, I was beckoned outside and was greeted by the sight of two gorgeous Bald Eagles perched atop the remains of a fueling station from the times when the community was full of fisheries.  At first glance, you may not notice the birds, but do take a closer look…  atop the pier post in frame left you will find the first of the birds, and perched atop the red house is the second.

We hadn’t even been here for an hour, and the magic was unfolding right in front of our eyes.

Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada –

Further down the main street of this tiny little town of roughly 1,200 inhabitants we found this old cannery.  It quickly became something that captured my mind’s eye and my imagination, and we have many more pictures of it to share in the coming months from various perspectives, featuring a variety of vignettes that give it the wonderful and unique character it has.

My love for everything old and rusty has found a new home up here.  We had originally planned on taking the 3:15 ferry back to Vancouver Island, but as the day mosied along it quickly became quite clear that there was no way we could maintain that schedule.  We ended up staying until the 2nd to last ferry as the day began to fade, capturing so many photographs I can’t even fathom how long it will take us to post-process and complete them all for publication.

For those who are interested, here it the official website for the community of Alert Bay.  We have no doubt that after reading all about it and seeing what it has to offer to those who are engaged and curious, you will be planning your own trip here.  Everyone was so very friendly to us, we left feeling like we made dear lifelong friends with half the community’s population, a testament to life in a remote place in a tight-knit community.  We have no doubt that if you were to visit yourself, you’d be left with many of the same feelings.

We have only barely begun to scratch the surface of this unbelievable trip.  Please stay tuned to our humble blog here as we roll out features and photographs that tell the story of one of the most enchanting places on this tiny earth we all call home.

Thank you so much for your kind visit today, we really appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please do feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.

  1. avatar Joyfulgozo says:

    I look forward to more pix. What a massive job u have in front of u. When i’m at my laptop, i’ll the current ones again.

  2. avatar Frank King says:

    Nice stories & photos. Sounds like a great trip!

  3. avatar ehpem says:

    Hi Toads, these are great shots of coastal BC. I haven’t been to Alert Bay for a long time, but you must have driven within a stone’s throw of my current field work on Quadra Island, where I have been for 4 weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing more from your trip, I expect you have some wonderful photos as it is a very interesting community and you always manage to see and capture the interesting.

    • Thank you so, so much ehpem! We can’t tell you how much that means to us!! We thought of you, and your name came up countless times, with your background in the areas that are of intense interest to us personally. We tried our best to see Haida Gwaii from our locations but as you know we were still too far south. If only we had Sarah Palin’s vision, we might have seen it!! 🙂 OK, that was an attempt at bad humor, I apologize for that. We trust your work goes well for you at Quadra Island? Can’t wait to hear all about it, we hope you are taking tons of photographs!! Best wishes, my good friend, and a heartfelt thanks for taking the time to pop by and leave these wonderful comments!!

      • avatar ehpem says:

        Hi Toads – sorry for the delay in responding – I have been totally off grid in Haida Gwaii for a short bit of work. Quadra went very well, as did Haida Gwaii. For a variety of reasons I am using little waterproof point and shoot cameras for much of the work, so the image quality is down, and I am so busy that often there is no time for recreational photography. Still, there are some acceptable photos, some of which will creep onto the pages of my blog over time.

        • Glad to see you back, my friend!! I will definitely be keeping a keen eye open for any new posts on your blog. We keep saying that one day we’ve got to get up there ourselves, it’s one of the most amazing places in the world, in my humble opinion. We felt that Alert Bay was a close cousin to Haida Gwaii given it’s proximity and the rich history that goes back thousands of years. Thanks for popping by, ehpem!

  4. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Beautiful Toad. Thank you for introducing me to Alert Bay. I’m very excited I’m going to be in Vancouver in a couple of weeks for 2 days on business. I wish it was longer but I guess its better then nothing.

    • Oh Edith, thank you so much for visiting! We really hope you enjoy your trip out this way, I am SURE you’ll love it! Make sure you have a little walking around time slated for yourself, you will find countless photo opportunities I fully expect! 🙂

  5. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Even more beauty from your fabulous island and home Toad. I never tire of seeing your photos and write-ups.

  6. avatar Don Barton says:

    Wonderful beginning to a good story, Scott. I really look forward to reading about you adventure and viewing your excellent photos.

  7. looks fantastic, love the first shot and cannot wait to see more!

    • Thank you so much, Mike, that truly means a lot to us here!! We’re pretty excited to share these with everyone and love that you took the time to pop by and leave your terrific comments!! 🙂

  8. avatar Valerie says:

    Hi Toads! I’ve visited Malcolm Island a number of times, just a ferry hop away from Alert Bay, but I’ve never made the journey to Alert Bay unless we timed the ferry wrong. clearly I will have to fix this! I love the shot of the cannery and look forward to seeing more pictures from your trip. Did you manage to get to Sointula while you were in the area?

    • Hi Valerie, thank you ever so much for your kind visit and comments!! We didn’t have time to visit Sointula and really wish we had. We’ve got big plans to head back up next year at the beginning of June and we have it on our Must-Do list to visit! Many heartfelt thanks for your kind comments here, we really appreciate it so much!