A day in Winter Harbour
01 September 2008 | West Coast Vancouver Island
Photo: Winter Harbour in the morning.
Winter Harbour (50 30.6N, 128 01.4 W). August 14.
We take a day off to relax after our crossing to Vancouver Island from Smith Sound. Steve changes oil while I take a walk on the boardwalk that runs from the dock along the water and through the woods. It's been nine years since we were here but very little has changed. The biggest difference is the addition of several fishing lodges, including one large one next to the public dock with a big sign that says "Private, Guests only." Unfortunately, as we saw in Alaska, many of these fishing lodges contribute little to the local economy. Employees are rarely from the town and supplies are brought in directly from a city rather than bought from local stores. The lodge at Winter Harbour even takes up precious space at the public dock with its sports fishing boats.
While in Winter Harbour we have a strange experience. We hike out to a point on a road, then walk back along the beach. We're picking some red thimbleberries and eating them when we realize we're not the only ones picking; a small black bear is nearby greedily stripping the berries from the bushes. We retreat to the road and start walking back when we run into a man carrying a big stick. He tells us the stick is to fend off bears and is amazed when we tell him he passed a few feet from one. We continue talking to him as we walk back. He tells us he is a cook at the lodge and is from Fiji (he looked East Indian to us). He then tells us a long story about working on a Russian cruise ship off Antarctica. He then asks us if we would like a drink. We accept, thinking he is offering us a drink at the lodge. But he goes into the Outpost, the local general store, buys two bottles of wine, then hands them to us. "Aren't you going to share them with us?" I ask. "No. I've got to get back to work."