Vancouver Island is a place full of special places.  Go in any direction and in short order you will most certainly find a little piece of Heaven to call your own, if only for a few lucky moments.  But some places are so special, so uniquely beautiful and breathtaking, that you can’t help but leave a little piece of your heart behind in an effort to someday find your way back.  Telegraph Cove is one of those rare places.

Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

A tiny, historic boardwalk community built in the 1920’s to service the telegraph line from Campbell River to the north island sits nestled protectively in a scenic cove overlooking the Johnstone Straight.  Once home to a lumber mill and fish cannery, the original homes built by the pioneering and adventurous families who braved the elements, and undoubtedly their own fears, now comprise the world-famous Telegraph Cove Resort.  Home to stately eagles and myriad other birds, marine and landlubbers alike, majestic black bears, harbour seals, and river otters, to name just a few, the scenery changes by the minute.  A plethora of ecotourism adventures begins at the end of the pier with  whale-watching, grizzly bear tours, fishing expeditions, kayaking and scuba diving.  Or simply sit and watch nature’s dazzling display unfold in front of you from the comfort of the charming coffee shops or restaurants.

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours - Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

While Telegraph Cove will surely steal your heart, a short jaunt up through Johnstone Straight to Knight  Inlet will bring you to a place that will haunt your very soul for evermore.

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours - Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Glendale Cove. The southern most point of The Great Bear Rainforest and home to one of the most beautiful and least understood creatures known to man, the venerable Grizzly Bear.

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours - Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours - Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

This pristine, awe-inspiring area is home to the largest population of grizzly bears in the world.  Expert guides respectfully offer bear viewing opportunities to people from literally around the globe.  Even as someone who loves the descriptive, creative power of the written word, it is truly impossible to explain the feeling of seeing your first grizzly bear.  This precious gift, given in friendship by these shy, gentle giants, is bestowed on a very select number of those lucky enough to share in it.

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours - Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

No one really knows why, but grizzlies are far less able to cope with development and changes to their habitat than other types of bears.  As you read this, plans for energy projects, commercial logging, trophy hunting, and an ever-increasing rate of human contact is threatening their very existence.  It is all of our inherent responsibility to help protect these regal stewards of the forest.  Indeed, the entire ecosystem depends on it.

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours - Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As we sadly bode farewell to our newest furry friends and made our way back to Knight Inlet, the gifts of this day were far from over as a dozen Pacific White-Sided dolphins offered to show us the way home.  Full of unadulterated joy, they dazzled everyone with their acrobatics and antics as they lept and flew through the air right beside the boat, often having to slow down so we could catch up with them.

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours - Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

I don’t know what it feels like to be a dolphin, but I can’t remember a time, until this day, that I felt THIS happy!

Some sing about having left their hearts in San Francisco, and I do agree it’s a pretty terrific place.  But on this day, Telegraph Cove, Knight Inlet, and Glendale Cove, all tucked away like buried treasure, became a part of my soul.  Now back in the familiar setting of my living room, I fondly stare at the pictures and close my eyes and dream about the next time Mother Nature wraps me warmly in her arms as I stand quietly listening to birdsong in Glendale Cove and silently thank her for the beautiful, modest grizzly, so generously sharing a tiny part of her day with me.  And that’s where I left my heart.

If you would like to help the bears, and the other wonderful beasties who call this magical place home, here are two really great organizations who are doing all sorts of good things: The Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Pacific Wild.

Thanks for visiting us today, please feel free to join in the conversation by leaving your great comments!

Until next time!




  1. avatar Ehpem says:

    Wow! What a fantastic trip you have been on. Great grizzly photos – you must have been thrilled to see them. These kinds of trips are never forgotten – you are lucky to have this for your memory banks.

    • Thanks so much Ehpem! It was, indeed, the trip of a lifetime, and a pilgrimage we hope to make pretty much every year if we can. Seeing those beautiful bears and dolphins up close like that was a profound experience, one that we will be writing and sharing photos of quite a bit more here in our humble corner of the internet. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and comment, both Mrs. Toad and I truly appreciate that!

  2. Great travelogue and photography. What an exciting subject. Love the video. Is it my imagination or are the grizzlies a bit skinny? This perhaps depends on the time of the year? The grizzlies I’ve see in the Rockies were more weighty I seem to remember, but it was always later in summer or fall that I was there. Bottom line: this essay is both beautiful and informative in every way.

    • Hi Joseph, it’s so wonderful to see you here, thank you for visiting and leaving your terrific comments! Indeed, these bears are just out of hibernation and are in process of getting as much sedge, grass, vegetation and later in the summer salmon into them as they can possibly fit. 🙂 As the season progresses, we are told their prime goal is to bulk up to get ready for winter and hibernation once again. If only it was OK for us to eat ice cream like the bears eat their salad and salmon, life would be something else, wouldn’t it? 😀 Thanks a ton for visiting!!

  3. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Wow…amazing. I love the whale shots. What a great place Toad.

    • Thanks Edith! The biologist onboard the boat at the time said he had never seen them jump quite so high!! It was an amazing experience, my friend! Thanks so much for popping on by and sharing your comments!

  4. avatar Mike Criswell says:

    Great Post! I love those Grizzly shots but that second shot of the boat and the mountains really does it for me, great work as always!

    • Thank you so much Michael, it is always a wonderful highlight for us when you pop by our humble little spot here and say hello! Many thanks for your terrific comments, my friend!

  5. […] A Perfect Place To Leave Your Heart – join us at Toad Hollow Photography as we head on up to the northern tip of Vancouver Island in search of grand adventure.  In this feature post we share some thoughts and insights we experienced during our trip to Glendale Cove where we got to see Grizzly Bears in the wild just a few yards away from us.  On the way back, we were joined by a pod of Pacific White-sided Dolphins who put on quite the show.  This post features a short video presentation as well. […]

  6. avatar Lisa Gordon says:

    I can surely see how this could capture your heart!
    What a beautiful place to be.
    Thank you so very much for sharing it here.