Posted by: cherylyoung | March 22, 2013

Mythical and elusive, full of meaning and great beauty that’s Haida Gwaii



They lie on the edge of the province’s collective memory

like a  dream scarce remembered; mythical and elusive,

full of meaning and great beauty, yet incomprehensible

to the waking mind.

Impossible not to marvel at, and revel in, these are

the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii), arguably

one of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes

 in the world.

This group of islands nestled under the Alaska panhandle

is the ancestral  home of the Haida – the West Coast

Aboriginals who have lived here for thousands of years.


The Queen Charlotte Islands were officially renamed

Haida Gwaii in  December 2009 as part of an historic

reconciliation agreement between  the Haida Nation and

the province of British Columbia.

Haida Gwaii was created as an alternative name

for the islands to acknowledge the history

of the Haida Nation.

The name Haida Gwaii translates as “islands of the people”

 in the Haida language.


According to Haida legend, Haida Gwaii is the place where

time began.

There is an older name for this place, a name that

comes from the  mists of time and seems to be the most

appropriate name of all:

Xhaaidlagha Gwaayaai – Islands at the Boundary of the World.


Certainly it is not hard to miss the spiritual, even mystical

nature of the place.


The unusual and abundant flora and fauna that thrive in

this Galapagos of the North and the marine and wildlife

diversity of the surrounding  waters and forests make

it an ecological marvel.

There are 1,884 islands in the archipelago, a mixture

of snow-top mountains and fiords that plunge into the s

ea, mist-enshrouded forests  and windswept sandy beaches.


The seven largest of the islands are – from north to south

– Langara, Graham, Moresby, Louise, Lyell, Burnaby, and

Kunghit Island.


They rise as peaks of a submerged mountain chain, with

the tallest peaks  perpetually capped in snow. Just 2 or

3 kilometres offshore,  the continental shelf falls away

dramatically to the immense depths of  the Pacific Ocean.


 Haida Gwaii is the most active earthquake area in Canada.


 Natural landslides are a common occurrence, and scarred

mountainsides are visible from the fjord-like inlets.

The total land area of Haida Gwaii is approximately 3,840

square miles; 156 miles (250 km) from north to south.


Haida Gwaii has been home to the Haida people for as

long as oral history  and archaeology have recorded

occupation of the islands -at least 7,000 years.

At least 14,000 people have lived in over 126 known

village sites.


 Following first contact with Europeans, the population

plummeted  to 589 by 1911, all resident in either Skidegate

or Old Masset.


 Today, the Haida Gwaii islands are less populated, at

6,000 people,  than they were a century ago when Haida

communities thrived along  the shores.


 Today, two out of three Haida live off-island, many of

whom are  planning to return.


The islands were the first place in British Columbia discovered

and recorded  by Spanish explorer Juan Perez in July 1774.

Fur traders followed a decade  later and were the only

visitors for the next 100 years, with a major  impact on

Haida culture.


 In the 18th and 19th centuries the area was a thriving

fur trading centre, as the Europeans arrived in huge sailing

ships to trade in the Haida villages.

The islands were named after HMS Queen Charlotte,

Lord Howe’s flagship  named in honour of Queen Charlotte,

wife of King George III.

Dispatched  by King George’s Sound Company to trade

in sea otter furs between the  Pacific coast of

America and China, Captain George Dixon named the

islands after his vessel in the  summer of 1787.


There is a continuum of rich and lively history here

that belies the  quiet wilderness of the islands today.


 The people still make their living in traditional ways –

off the land.


Each island community has its own unique features that

reflect the  richness of the culture, geography, and history.


A microcosm of the British Columbia coast, these sparsely

populated  beautiful islands offer an escape to a

rough-edge paradise.



There are countless beaches, streams, fishing holes, coves,

and ancient  First Nation villages to explore.


Many unique subspecies of flora and fauna share these

islands with the residents.


Visitors to these enchanting islands will never forget

their visit.


In spite of modern transportation and communication,

the islands are still relatively isolated, an attraction in itself,

and recreation and  native culture are the main attractions.


Sport fishing, hiking, camping, kayaking, boating, whale

watching,beachcombing and sightseeing are the major

recreational activities. 

Haida Gwaii is largely a resource-based economy.


The main industries are logging, commercial fishing, mining,

and tourism.

 The local economy is heavily dependent upon the

forest industry,

  located primarily on the east and west sides of Graham

Island, with a smaller portion on northwest Moresby Island.


 The timber supply area is around half a million hectares

of western  hemlock (49%), western red cedar (30%),

Sitka spruce (21%), and yellow  cedar (less than 1%).


Salmon, herring, halibut, black cod, and crabs are the main

products in commercial fisheries.


 In addition to these industries, employment is also high

in the service  industries and government, which employs

32% of island residents.


Population: 6,000

Haida Gwaii is located in British Columbia, Canada, west of the

 northern BC town of Prince Rupert.


Two Islands, Graham Island to the north and Moresby Island

to the south comprise the majority of the land mass.


View a Map of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).





Easter Egg Hunt - Large-page-001 (2)



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