Nuchatlitz -- not so isolated. June 29, 2012.
05 July 2012 | posted at Kyuquot
Photo: The grave of a Spanish influenza victim.
I grabbed a tree root and pulled myself up the steep bank. The soft soil giving way under my boot. An hour earlier we had been at Bob Devault's house, telling him we planned to take advantage of the low tide and walk out to one of Nuchatlitz's outer islands. "There's an old cemetery out there," he said, and then told us how to find it. "I,m going for a row," he said.
On the island we met Rod and Monique, residents of Nuchatlitz, who didn't know about the cemetery. We were just trying to remember how to find it when Bob rowed around the corner and beached his boat.
With Bob as a guide, we were soon climbing the steep bank. At the top we found a grove of multi-trunked cedars that seemed to be growing more sideways than up. Just beyond them was a wrought iron fence surrounding a gravestone.
I approached the gravestone and brushed the moss from the writing:
In memory of
Edward F. Smith
Died September 21, 1918
Aged 16 years
"It was the time of the Spanish Influenza," said Bob. "It's a good reminder we're not as isolated out here as we might think."
People often ask me what my favorite place on the west coast of Vancouver Island is. At first when I got that question, I demurred; there's so many wonderful places on the coast it was hard to choose. But really, Nuchatlitz is my favorite. Whenever we return here, I'm struck by its beauty, even on gray days like we've had this year. The many low islands and rocks allow you to look over them to the ocean beyond and that gives a feeling of openness which is restful to the eyes. But those same rocks and islands protect the anchorage from the weather which also gives a feeling of peace. And then there's that feeling of timelessness and the sweep of history -- in the prow of an old burial canoe on a promontory and the windswept village island. And now the grave is a reminder of recent history.