Cruising in the NorthwestThings to Do and Places to SeeWaggoner eNewsMain Gun Emplacement at the top of Yorke Island.

The reef just off Yorke Island in Johnstone Strait.

The reef just off Yorke Island in Johnstone Strait.

Departing Lagoon Cove we motored through ‘The Blow Hole’ between E. Cracroft and Minstrel Islands into Chatham and Havannah Channels reaching Johnstone Strait.  Not surprising, Johnstone Strait was choppy but improved as we proceeded eastward. Seeing that the seas had become settled, we took the opportunity to anchor for a few hours behind Yorke Island. For some time we have wanted to see the gun emplacements established on the island during WWII and this was our chance.

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WWII Ruins on Yorke Island in Johnstone Strait

Ruins from the period remain on the island and trails are maintained by the BC Parks to the various military sites. You might even find barbed-wire along the shoreline, which circled the island to deter an enemy attack. Barbed-wire on Yorke Island to prevent enemy attack.

Barbed-wire to prevent an enemy attack is still found on the Island.

The Parliament of Canada approved construction for the fort at Yorke Island in 1937 to block any enemy approach from the Strait of Georgia and to defend the cities of Vancouver and Victoria. Supplies for the fort were brought in by the Union Steamship Company and by the Royal Canadian Navy. At the peak of construction 250-500 soldiers and workers were stationed here. Some of the construction workers were recruited from local communities. In 1942, the original fortress’ 4-7 inch guns were exchanged with Ferguson Point Battery in Stanley Park, Vancouver for their more modern 6-inch MK VII guns. For those interested in WWII history, Yorke Island is a fascinating island to visit.

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Unfortunately, there is no licensed tour operator for this site, but trail maps can be found online.

Anchorage at Yorke Island

While the trails are well-marked with colored ribbons, anchorage can be a challenge. Anchorage is possible in settled weather behind a reef on the southeast side of the island where the beach landing and trailhead is located. Since this is temporary anchorage at best with a rocky bottom, it is wise to leave someone on the boat as an anchor watch and take turns going ashore.

Anchorage at Yorke Island.Temporary Anchorage at Yorke Island.

Managing a kayak on shore seemed a simpler solution than going in by dinghy, and we carried cell phones and a hand-held VHF Radio for communication. Be sure to allow enough time to hike the trails and see all the magazine buildings and gun sites positioned in various locations on the island.

We enjoyed the stop, and look forward to visiting again whenever the weather is settled.

For more information visit Vancouver Gunners.

~Lorena Landon

(originally posted on

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