To call this expedition a trip of a lifetime doesn’t really do it justice.  It changed us in our very core, forever.  Being back home in the Cowichan Valley today leaves us yearning to head back up, to see this area of the west coast of Canada in a different season.  We yearn to leave the trappings of our modern existence behind as we immerse ourselves in the incredible natural beauty that can only be found out here, leaving all our troubles behind as we take in the landscapes and see the wildlife native to this part of Canada.  It’s impossible not to be touched by what you see and feel on the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Upon arrival in Port McNeill we couldn’t wait to begin the big adventure we had planned for the day and for the weekend.  It all started with a quick coffee at one of the local coffee shops as we stared out the window in delight with knowing where we were and knowing that we had an entire 3 day stretch in front of us.  Although the time flew by much too quickly, it also moved in slow motion in a way as we struggled to slow down the hands of time and really take in the full experience we had been so much looking forward to for months.

This post continues our series titled “North Island Toads” that shares all the experiences and photographs we captured during our visit.  This series will likely take months to slowly emerge here on our blog as the volume of stories and images is beyond anything we’ve done before.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Once the coffee was done we headed immediately over to St John Gualbert Port McNeill where we had our first appointment of the weekend to shoot the incredible church.  In case you are just joining us, check out our previous post “Port McNeill – Day One” that showcases our first impressions of Port McNeill, and of course the beauty of St John Gualbert.

The town of Port McNeill itself is a small one, yet it is full of wonderful things to check out and see.  After completing the shoot in the church, we headed right on over to the harbor where we explored the marina and it’s surroundings.  The scenes were incredible, full of fishing and recreational boats, a seaplane coming in for a landing, mountains in the distance, and the lapping water of the ocean on the shores.  Given that the town is small, we had many of the areas we explored entirely to ourselves, accompanied only by the constant cries of gulls.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As a seaplane came in for landing we stood on one of the piers holding hands, excited to be here and in true awe of what it all felt like.  Boats of all varieties were moored in the marina, ranging from beautiful fishing boats that had years of weathering on them, proof of the hard labor they had experienced, to other boats that were pristine and colorful with purposes that didn’t reveal themselves.  Yet they were no less fascinating because of this.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

At the other end of the harbor we found working machinery that is undoubtedly part of the logging industry that both helped create the town as well as creating a source of income for many of the local families.  One of the first things we sought out was to see if there was a local museum as we find that so much can be learned about an area by exploring its history.  In short order we found the “Port McNeill & District Museum” and we immediately got lost in all the terrific artifacts and notes of history that were exhibited.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Situated right next to the Community Hall was a display that featured what is widely believed to be the World’s Largest Burl.  Whether or not this is true is well beyond the scope of our article here, but the artifact was amazing to see in person.  Standing next to it dwarfed us and we realized the impact that nature has on all living beings, including our forests.

After this part of our exploration was done, we found ourselves a tad bit tuckered from all the excitement.  Time to head back to our hotel, the Haida Way Motor Inn.  We enjoyed an incredible meal in the Northern Lights Restaurant downstairs, which not only served exquisite dishes but also showcased incredible views of the town below and the harbor in the distance.  The Haida Way Motor Inn became our anchor for the entire weekend and was a place we truly enjoyed and will likely stay at again one day in the future.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The next morning we awoke early with plans on getting to the ferry terminal with plenty of time to spare.  A full moon lingered over the horizon as the sleepy town began to wake.  The rain from the night before covered everything, casting reflections in pools that had formed overnight.  The air was fresh and we were anxious to get moving and begin the second stage of our adventure.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As it was, we were one of only a handful of cars waiting to board the ferry to head over to Alert Bay.  We took the opportunity to grab a few shots in an attempt to capture the scenes that can only be found on the west coast, ones that speak to the natural beauty but also showcase what is unique and special about this part of the world.  For a sneak peek as to what we were heading towards, check out our previous post “Alert Bay – A Visit Of A Lifetime“.

Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada Visit our blog “Alert Bay – A Visit Of A Lifetime” for the story behind the photo.

Please feel free to check back here with us over the next several months as we continue to share our stories, experiences and photographs from this trip.  If you love beautiful landscapes and seascapes, incredible history that can be found nowhere else, and sights that are absolutely unique to the west coast of Canada you won’t want to miss our upcoming features.  In the meantime, please do feel free to leave us any comments you have below, we love to hear from all our visitors and promise to answer each comment that is left.  Thank you for visiting us in our humble corner of the internet today.




  1. avatar ehpem says:

    Another great set of shots from your trip! You sure do a great job of capturing the feel of the small coastal communities! I love that last shot – the light was perfect and the colours to die for!

  2. avatar Don Barton says:

    Toad, as I read your colourful description of this visit to Port McNeil, all I could hear were the “constant cries of gulls”, so reminiscent of the west coast. It’s one of the first distinctive sounds I hear every time I arrive in B.C.

    I really admire your skill in discovering the essence of a place and depicting this in your beautiful photos.

    As a side note, I am surprised to see the apparent condition of the small B.C. Ferry. It’s sorely in need of a fresh coat of paint. I’ve always admired the pristine look of B.C. Ferry’s. Perhaps this speaks to the harsh conditions of the north end of the Island.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Don, it’s always a huge delight for us when we see you’ve popped by The Hollow here for a visit! Thanks for taking the time to visit us, and for your terrific comments, they really do mean a lot. And, indeed, I can say from even our short visit up to the northern end, the weather at the tip of the island is a bit different than it is south from there. Based on what we saw of the homes and buildings too, weathering is a constant force at work here. We feel it adds so much character to the area, making it a representation of west coast living. As for the B.C. Ferry, it did look like it could have used a fresh lick of paint, no doubt about it, but I personally love rusty things in my photographic work so in many ways that feature made it more endearing to me on a personal level. Best wishes, and thanks again for swinging on by!! 🙂

  3. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Looks like a terrific place to spend three days. Wonderful images Toad.