Cruising in the NorthwestThings to Do and Places to SeeWaggoner eNewsMore ruins on Village Island.

Docks and Native Village of New Vancouver.

This morning we made our way back west through Cramer Pass, then turned south along Retreat and Spring Passages, arriving at New Vancouver on the north side of Harbledown Island. New Vancouver is a Native village in The Broughtons referred to as Tzatsisnukomi in the Kwak’wala language. After tying up at the dock, we were greeted by a band member who collected payment for our moorage; the band office was closed that day.  Totem poles in front of the Big House in New Vancouver.

The Big House and totems at New Vancouver.

We commented on the nice ‘big house’ and the new totems located in front. She proudly announced that they were carrying on the work started by her grandfather who had passed away last year. She further explained that a ‘big house’ has one fire pit as distinguished from a ‘longhouse’ which has two fire pits. We appreciated her warm welcome as she no doubt appreciated our interest in her Native culture.

Abandoned Native Village on Village Island.From the water, you can see the abandoned Native village on Village Island.

Historic Ruins on Village Island and Harbledown Island in BC

After settling in and grabbing a bite to eat, we lowered the dinghy and headed to a nearby abandoned Native village site on the southwest side of Village Island, just one and a half miles away.

Landing the dinghy at Village Island

Landing the dinghy at Village Island.

Exploring Village Island

The white midden beaches and clear blue water are very picturesque. It’s best to wear boots, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt as the ruins are quite overgrown.

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There are two sets of large poles left from the longhouses that once stood here and the remains of a large apartment-style building and houses from a later period. Some of the houses have since collapsed and continue to be taken over by nature. We stopped here several years ago and inadvertently found the back end of a bear among the bushes, this time we were more ‘bear aware’ and made noise and conversation while touring the area. Although small, this abandoned village is fascinating to visit and is within an easy dinghy ride from New Vancouver. For an even closer dinghy ride, you can anchor the mother-ship in a cove just north of the abandoned village site.

Impressive stone walls on Harbledown Island

Impressive stone walls on Harbledown Island.

Exploring Harbledown Island

The next stop by dinghy was ‘Monks’ Wall’ on Harbledown Island located southwest of Dead Point.  We had an approximate latitude but not a longitude, so finding the exact spot proved challenging. We found the given latitude and started scouring the shoreline for any evidence of an early homestead and stone wall. We spotted what looked like a cairn and hoped it was marking the spot to go ashore.


Remains of stone wall archway on Harbledown Island.The remains of a stone wall archway.

We tied off the dinghy; and sure enough, we found the ruins of large rock walls hidden just inside the tree line. It is not known where the nickname ‘Monks’ Wall’ came from, but the stone walls were not built by monks but by William Herbert and Mary Anne Galley, who acquired 160 acres on Harbledown Island in the late 1800’s.

Remains of extensive rock walls around the homestead.The remains of extensive rock walls around the Galley’s homestead.

They established a homestead with fruit trees and livestock, including cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens. The homestead was defined by large, well-built walls, some of which are still standing. Mr. and Mrs. Galley also created a trading post identified with a stone archway over the entrance. The arch has since collapsed, but the rock wall supports are still intact. Bits and pieces of dishes and rusted hardware can also be seen at the site, left as a collection for others to enjoy. While walking around the impressive rock walls, we couldn’t help but imagine what stories have gone untold.

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Finding the Ruins

Returning to the dinghy, we made note of the GPS location on our hand-held InReach DeLorme which read: 50 35.408 N and 126 35.107 W. We also stacked more rocks on the cairn to help others find this special place.

Clear-cut logging has taken place behind the homestead, but fortunately, a row of trees was left in place, and the rock walls were left undisturbed.

~Lorena Landon

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