Desolation Sound

Sunset from Refuge Cove

Sunset from Refuge Cove

While back in Canada I managed to get in a couple of trips up to Desolation Sound with my parents on their boat. As a kid so many of my summers were spent up there that I think there might have been some years where I spent more time afloat than on dry land!

This time we stopped in for a few days at Refuge Cove, a co-op settlement on West Redonda Island somewhere between a hippy commune and a buccaneer’s hideway. Accessible only by boat or seaplane service, Refuge Cove offers boaters one of the few opportunities to fuel up and buy necessities like food, gear, or beer before an extended adventure in the Sound.

Refuge Cove has a few year-round residents and a seasonal population which partly relies on the seasonal tourist “boom” lasting on average from July 18th until August 18th, give or take – or so I’m led to believe. A few houses dot the hill behind the store or as the locals call it “Downtown”, with more houses stretching up and away past “Uptown” – where the bakery and art gallery are, a distant 30 metres from the store. A combined Laundromat/washroom/shower building fills the gap between Uptown and Downtown. You can even get postal service in Refuge Cove. I sent my roommates in Trier a postcard, and I spent a good 5 minutes flipping through the ancient book of stamps with the young long-haired fellow standing behind the counter at the store. The book had to have been at least 15 years old and full of stamps far larger than any I’ve ever seen, and all covered with animals rather than Her Majesty. I asked buddy where I could post it, and he casually replied, “Oh, Uptown, but I’ll take care of that for you.” What a nice chap. And the card arrived, even before I did!

In recent years visitor numbers have dropped due in large part to fuel prices. The old burger stand tucked away behind the Laundromat has long since closed down. The owner told me that he used to only have a good 4 weeks of business or so, but had done it out of fun. Now though it’s just not worth it. Instead he’s converted it over into an Honour System library, with a collection of books with little cans to put your money in.

I spent my time catching up on some much neglected reading

I spent my time catching up on some much neglected reading

So after all these beautiful pictures you may wonder where the name “Desolation” comes from for such a beautiful place. Well, it’s no joke – it was given by Capแต€ Geo. Vancouver, charged with exploring what would become British Columbia’s west coast and the Salish Sea in 1792. He entered Desolation Sound on a dreary grey day, with the rain falling and the misty clouds choking out the mountain tops – it’s an image any west coaster is familiar with, and likely loves. Like most newcomers however Vancouver was not too happy. The deep fjords and bays made anchoring almost impossible, they could identify little food, and his surveying parties came back without discovering significant routes inland nor potential areas for large-scale settlement. His men had come across a few “abandoned” villages, including the infamous Flea Village. In all likelihood however these villages were not abandoned, but rather temporarily uninhabited as the local indigenous peoples were likely harvesting food elsewhere as part of their normal seasonal migrations. A devastating small pox epidemic ten years previous also played a part in local depopulation. Vancouver had no idea of this however, and to him the entire Sound appeared empty, useless, and devoid of any comfort.

The falls in Teakerne Arm, near where Vancouver anchored while his crews surveyed the surrounding area.

The falls in Teakerne Arm, near where Vancouver anchored while his crews surveyed the surrounding area.

The sparkling blue waters of Desolation Sound, markedly different than how Vancouver saw them.

The sparkling blue waters of Desolation Sound, markedly different than how Vancouver saw them.

 

Advertisements

About supertylor

British Columbian 20-something spending a(nother) year in Trier, Germany.
This entry was posted in Canada and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Desolation Sound

  1. Kevin says:

    Awesome photos! As a neighbor to the south, we use to cruise the San Juan Islands and I had the same feeling about not being on dry land very often. Glad you were able to go back and enjoy….even if it was with your parents! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Great pic’s. The Smiths need to join you on one of those trips. Is there where you caught the prawn you brought?

    • supertylor says:

      Close, but we can’t give away those secrets ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And we’ll definitely have to organize something for next summer! Maybe a new installment, a Tylor’s Family Adventure Series?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s