Visit the Queen Charlotte Islands

Learn all about Rod Chadwick's 2000-mile round trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia and why he thinks it's a paradise for the settling.

| May/June 1971

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    The Queen Charlotte Islands offer travelers an opportunity to truly get down to basics and enjoy nature.

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I have just returned from a 2000-mile round trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia. I trust the land to tell it's story more honestly in November than in the full bloom of summer. From Prince Rupert—where vacant Crown Land proved to be too mountainous or heavily forested for agricultural acquisition—the journey to Queen Charlotte City was a bus, boat, plane, bus, boat, taxi sequence; total one way fare: $22. There is a less complicated but more expensive seaplane service and a $16 ferry boat. The latter, however, sails only once each week carrying freight to Masset, a multi-pot hole trailer town. For those who want personal transportation on the Islands, the Q.C. taxi service rents cars.

Applications for Crown Land under agricultural lease-purchase acquisition will not be granted on plots isolated from the Q.C.-Tlell-Masset roadway. This was made clear in the Prince Rupert Land Office before I left for Q.C. and reemphasized when I returned there. Apart from agricultural lease, there is some indication that 20-acre homesite lots may be granted to applicants in 1971. The highway restriction should not apply to these lots. Isolated plots to squat on undisturbed for a number of years are easily found. Any inland area, especially along the Cape Ball River, is unlikely to be penetrated by even the most persistent hunter . . . let alone the heavy tread of officialdom.

Generally speaking, the available land on the Queen Charlotte is flat with light to moderate tree cover. The soil is darkly organic, laid by the forest above solid sand in depths from two inches to several feet. The laws of organic growing may usefully be exactly reversed in the case of most of this Q.C. land. It is the soil content of the organic matter—rather than the organic matter of the soil—which needs to be conserved and improved.

Water retention also must be decreased rather than increased to improve the ground and the need for extensive drainage is frequently a factor in deterring applicants. Decades ago, a large colony of Russian farmers attempted to drain the Muskeg north of Tow Hill. The massive ditches carry water to the beaches still, but the farm land never materialized. High acidity in the soil is a common fault to most Q.C. acreages, an expensive condition to rectify in an offshore economy. Virtually the only edible crops favored by such acid soil are berries, the potato, peanut, radish and watermelon; not exactly a complete balanced diet.

Many visitors think that the Clearwater Lake area might be promising territory and on the map it appears ideal. In fact, though, the area is barricaded by swamp and forest and difficult even to locate. I met natives of the islands who had walked the beach less than a mile from the lake itself . . . yet had failed to find Clearwater in several hours of searching!

The best area in which to locate an application—because it's the region favored by the official 'scrutineers'-is that adjacent to the road between Tlell and Port Clements. Apart from lots 2393 and 2394 (as numbered on the relevant land status map) the road runs through ten square miles of vacant, surveyed Crown Land. This is gently rolling country, often very lightly wooded (which should exclude competition from logging interests). The best growing soils and those with minimal drainage problems, are on those lots divided by the highest stretches of the undulating Tlell-Port Clements highway.


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