Coast Cariboo Route to Campbell River

Trip Start Apr 03, 2006
Trip End Jun 30, 2006

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Friday, July 7, 2006

Campbell River via the Coastal and Cariboo Circle Routes

With Barbara's practicum coming to a rapid end, there was only one more out of town trip to be made to visit a client. This was a two and a half hour drive north of Victoria which brought us to Malaspina University located on a mountain side overlooking Nanaimo.

Since we were already headed north, we took this opportunity to continue along the beautiful east coast of Vancouver Island with our destination being Campbell River.

In doing this trip we traveled on parts of two circle tours marketed by Tourism British Columbia as:

Coastal Circle Route

Starting in Victoria, it goes up the east coast of Vancouver Island to Courtenay where it crosses the Georgia Strait to Powell Rive then traces the Sunshine Coast to Vancouver and then back to Victoria.

(about 479 km, including ferry travel)

On this circle tour we went as far as Courtenay.

Coast Cariboo Circle Route

It starts in Vancouver and crosses the Strait of Georgia to Nanaimo and then goes to the tip of Vancouver Island to Port Hardy. Here it continues via BC Ferry to distant Bella Coola. From here the road trip continues to 100 Mile House and then back to Vancouver.

(about 1,835 km, excluding ferry travel)

On this tour we went as far as Campbell River.

On our way to Nanaimo we passed through several towns we had previously visited - Duncan and Chemainus and Ladysmith.

Duncan is known as the Totem Pole Capital of BC which makes for an interesting walk around town. On a previous trip I stopped here to blog the Forestry Museum.

Chemainus is a small town blessed with a beautiful sea-side setting and beautiful architecture. It is also renowned for its murals which can be seen throughout the town. While murals are common in BC, Chemainus has developed it into a fine art with a total of 36 on display. The lower town is also very charming with its collection of heritage homes and it is also from here that there is a ferry connection to Thetis Island.

Ladysmith is located just far enough away from Victoria that a coffee break would be in order to stay alert. Fortunately there is a Tim Hortons right beside the highway to fill the need.

Besides that, the little town has put on a major municipal charm offensive with interlocking stone sidewalks, a multitude of hanging flower pots and interesting architecture which has in my estimation succeeded completely to make it the perfect little town.

Due to her recent wedding to Kid Rock, I also became aware that this is the hometown of Pamela Anderson.

Namaimo is the only town along the coast that did not meet our expectations. It has none of the charm of Victoria nor the little towns that lead up to it. The downtown is undergoing a major commercial construction project and perhaps that will add what the town lacks. It has however the advantage of being only a one hour fifteen minute ferry ride away from Horseshoe Bay and Vancouver. It would be possible for some people to live in Nanaimo and work in Vancouver and commute by ferry which would be a very relaxing way to get to and from work.

Our destination, Malaspina University/College, bills itself as Canada's youngest university and its setting on a steep hill overlooking Nanaimo and the Georgia Strait with the mainland in the distance, makes for a truly remarkable location.

Free Internet access and the beautiful vistas as seen from the library made time pass quickly as I was waiting for Barbara.

From Namaimo to Campbell River the drive along the coast of the Georgia Strait is surprisingly beautiful and we kept wondering apart from the physical beauty what was the economic engine that produced such a collection of lovely towns.

Parksville with its sandy beaches and Qualicum Beach with its stunning coast line are clean, sparkling communities that would be great to retire to. Having said that, Parksville has an overheated real estate market with the median price for a single family detached home coming in at $500,000 with a median household income of $49,000.

If passing through Qualicum Beach the 26 Flavour Ice Cream Parlour located between the road and the beach makes for a refreshing stop. It would be appropriate then to take one of the roads leading to the residential areas above the beach to see how beautiful the homes and landscaping are in this area of the island. Seeing how beautiful the neighbourhoods are I would not expect real estate prices to be much cheaper than Parksville.

At beautiful Fanny Bay we came across a docked ship called the Salmon Transporter that caught our interest. It was in fact receiving a load from a double trailer tanker truck through a long thick tube strung from shore along the dock to the ship.

As I was hunched over the semi-transparent tube beside the ship, trying to see what was being pumped into the hold of the Salmon Transporter, the captain appeared to wish me a good afternoon.

We learned from him, that the ship was in fact taking a load of well water which it was transporting up the coast to far off Ocean Falls to be used by fish farms in that area. I was puzzled by why a salmon, generally thought of as a salt water fish, would be using well water. Having forgotten that salmon of course are spawned in the creeks and streams of British Columbia which are definitely not salt water, the need for fresh water was quickly clarified. Also of interest was the fact that what was being raised were Atlantic Salmon, a species which apparently grows bigger and faster than the species of west coast salmon.

The twin communities of Courtenay/Comox have been a source of curiosity for me simply because a very good high school friend, who went on to become a professor at St. Mary's University, seriously considered moving here some years ago. The fact that he selected Lunenburg, NS, speaks for his eye for physical beauty of surroundings. Lunenburg has to rate as the pretties small town in Canada, although I think Perth, ON lays claim to that title. For Courtenay/Comox to even have been in the running speaks for itself. So it was with this frame of mind that we approached these two communities and we were not disappointed in what we saw.

Courtenay has a rustic downtown with many boutiques, restaurants and shops. One of our discoveries was the quirky colourful building that housed the world headquarters of Island Inkjet Refills. It also boasts a theater and a beautiful library.

Comox is mostly known for CFB Comox (Canadian Forces Base) which is one of the bases for Canada's Air Force. Hence the Comox Air Force Museum would be a stop for anyone interested in military aviation.

Besides the classy main street we were happiest exploring the large wooden wharf by the Yacht Club. There was enough there to go for a decent walk over the water while admiring the super collection of yachts as well as the mountains of the interior of Vancouver Island and the mainland.

Yes, this would be a great area to retire in, surrounded by the imposing beauty of the sea and mountains.

Our final destination of this part of the trip however was beckoning.

One of the first things one sees upon approaching Campbell River is beautiful Sequoia Park, located between the road and the Georgia Strait. When I saw the trees, I just about bounded out of the car, for the trees here were of the same species as are in a park in James Bay, the part of Victoria were we live. Up to this point no one had been able to tell me definitely what type of trees they were.

Of course the rare Sequoia is quite different in appearance from the Douglas Firs, so common on Vancouver Island. Both are tall and majestic but the sequoia because of its superior size has to rate as the king of the western trees.

My interest of course stems from wanting to blog the "Trees of British Columbia" which to date has has not been started.

Campbell River also surprises in its clean, manicured appearance which belies its roots as a pulp and paper town. Huge sums of money were spent, I suspect mostly by the federal government, on a wharf that extends about a quarter of a kilometer, in an L-shape into Johnson Passage.

This is a wonderful stop to see the sunset, people fishing, passing boats, educational displays about the wildlife, as well as the imposing plume of vapor projecting into the evening sky from the pulp and paper mill at the north end of the town.

Speaking of fishing, it would appear that it does not get better than this since Campbell River is the self-proclaimed "Salmon Capital of the World".

A walk down the main street leaves one again thinking that the municipal authorities got it right in making this a pleasant and interesting town. It is another addition to the many little municipal jewels on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The phrase "what a beautiful place" was used often on this trip.

Campbell River also is a transportation hub because of a ferry crossing to Powell River on the mainland, as well as land transportation to Port Hardy in the north and Gold River to the west.

(see note below posted by Jane that corrects the information given in previous paragraph)

About the next part of our trip I would like to say that this was planned, however it was not.

In looking at the map in the area of Campbell River one sees off to the west another (the other being Tofino) access point towards the sea.

This one leads to Gold River and far off Tahsis. These are two places that can create excitement just by their location on the map near historic Nootka Sound.

Being curious we could not pass up this chance and in so doing we discovered the best was yet to come.

October 30, 2009

Thanks to "Old Sailor" we now have more information about the Salmon Transporter.
oldsailor12 said:

i served in salmon transporter when she was in the royal canadian navy
her homeports where hmcs star hamilton before heading to halifax then
in 1978 she was transferred to equimalt where she finished up her
time.she did quite a spell transfered to the canadian coast guard she
was under the command of lcdr aaf hodge until reaquired by the royal
canadian navy while in the guard her homeport was toronto she was a
research ship with canadian inland waters and carried scientist to
collect water sample and other items from around the great lakes the
hiold was converted into living space and upper lab

Oct. 31
when salmon tranporter was coast guard and navy right in front of the house was the upper lab which then became quarters when she returned to halifax and the foclse had a small house added to access the focsle and to access the lower deck the emergency fire pump was located there along with the heads and can view the differences between her and her sister ships either on web just use the search engines porte boats  and also hmcs porte dauphine to view what she orginally looked light these ships where designed ond the north sea fishing trawlers..lcdr hodge commissioned porte dauphine right up till the coast guard reaquired her the ships where orginally designed to operate antisubmarine booms at major ports and and where to operate in pairs so when a new captain took over he had to make sure which way the prop turned as they had left and right hand scews and when on the great lakes many a new skipper bash the jetty at hmcs patriot which was flag officer navy reserves. porte st jean had her windlass gear in the focsle as she use to go down to the carribean and shot drones off for antiaircraft practice for the fleet if you have any more questions i will try to do nmybest to answer them

November 7

Oldsailor12 has posted a comment on your TravelPod photo titled "10-curious -- as ususal "
Saturday, November 7, 2009 8:26 PM

"richard appleyard" <>
Add sender to Contacts


sure does bring back memories of the ship had some good times on her i
served in her twice once on the great lakes one night we where off
bronte are i had trouble sleeping and i wandered up to the wheelhouse
the officers where around the chart table and i asked brad whatis going
on  he said they where trying to figure out where we are i looked
around and omy god help us iwent over to the chart table eased my way
in and with my finger i said we are right here on the chart i was told
later i was .25 miles off all i did was look around bronte piers off to
starboard chch tower off to port and the burlington skyway bridge dead
ahead the senior officer said to them how can a petty officer with a
glance figure out pretty accurately where we are without using any
insruments he eyeballed it learn to eyeball your position for you may
run in to situation where you dont have time to use the azithmuth ring.
when she transferred to the west coast she only made two stops one in
panama canal zone and the second was san diego. so it shows the range
of the ship before refuelling.everything was strictley rationed

Great story Richard!
February 5, 2011
The story of the Salmon Transporter continues with a clarification from Ken Quick

Blog Entry about Salmon Transporter 
 From:Ken Quick> 3 


I came across an old blog entry of yours today from 2006 ( Being a retired Chief Petty Officer and 20 year Naval Reservist I had to respond to correct Richard Appleyard's comments from 2009 that you added regarding some history of the Salmon Transporter (a.k.a. HMCS Porte Dauphine).

 I served on HMCS Porte Dauphine many times, including the trip from Halifax to Esquimalt in the spring of 1998.  As you can see from the attached scan I made of my memento of the trip, we actually stopped in six different ports enroute (Norfolk, Key West, Colon, Balboa, Acapulco and San Diego.  Further, as an engineer who had to participate, we had to refuel the ship in all 6 ports.

Guess I’m a officially a crusty old Chief, but I couldn’t let that one go.  Sorry, Richard, but you were a Boatswain, were you not?

Ken Quick
Thank you for the information and photos Ken. The information provided by both of you makes me realize that there is a tremendous amount of history attached to the "Salmon Transporter" - if she could only talk.

Ken also provided three photos (below) commemorating the east coast to west coast voyage of the HMCS Porte Dauphine in 1978.

All the best to both of you.

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Jane on

Just a point, the ferry from Campbell River does not connect to the mainland, but goes over to Quadra Island, and on driving across that island, 10 min., another ferry can be taken to Cortes Island. The ferry you speak of to Powell River is many many miles south of Campbell River City :-)

Lobo on

Thanks Jane for pointing out the error.

The ferry to the mainland is between Powell River and Comox, located further to the south from Campbell River.

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