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Exploring Bella Coola (1)

When we weren’t bear watching we explored Bella Coola and its surrounds. These endeavours were a little weather-impacted (the rainforest habitat shouldn’t make that a complete surprise) though the resulting cloud gave the place additional atmosphere and our trusty Jeep got us everywhere we wanted to go. I’ve divided this into two posts covering roughly west and east of where we stayed.

Starting west: The remote Bella Coola valley lies at the end of one of the watery fingers extending inland from the Pacific Ocean. In a straight line, open sea is about 100km away.

The marina lies next to the Government Wharf from which ferries leave that can deposit you further west including the long journey out to Vancouver Island.

The marina lies next to the Government Wharf from which ferries leave that can deposit you further west including the long journey out to Vancouver Island.

My love of abandoned and derelict buildings had plenty to be enthused about on this trip. Also adjacent the wharf was this defunct fish cannery.

My love of abandoned and derelict buildings had plenty to be enthused about on this trip. Also adjacent the wharf was this defunct fish cannery.

On the opposite side of the channel is the Tallheo Cannery where you can take a boat across for a tour. Unfortunately the very day I phoned to ask about this was the very day they closed for the season!

On the opposite side of the channel is the Tallheo Cannery where you can take a boat across for a tour. Unfortunately the day I phoned to ask about this was the very day they closed for the season!

Along further seals bop around in the water and laze about on logs.

Along further seals bopped around in the water and lazed about on logs.

There is a strong First Nations presence here with the local people called Nuxalk (from what I could tell this is like Noohalk, rhymes with chalk). The name Bella Coola is derived from a term used to differentiate the people living in the valley from those in Bella Bella right out on the coast. The town is pretty small at a population lurking under 2,000 but it has all the essentials and a number of totem poles.

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Top of a tall totem pole that symbolises the trauma caused by the residential school system enforced upon First Nations families, and path toward healing.

Top of a tall totem pole that symbolises the trauma caused by the residential school system enforced upon First Nations families, and path toward healing.

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A message wall outside some kind of community centre.

A message wall outside some kind of community centre.

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This pole facilitates rituals and ceremonies to encourage eulachon (a small fish), a mainstay of Nuxalk culture and economy, to once again flourish in the river.

This pole facilitates rituals and ceremonies to encourage eulachon (a small fish), a mainstay of Nuxalk culture and economy, to once again flourish in the river.

Like most places Bella Coola has houses that are nice, run-down and everywhere in between, my eye is always drawn to this variety!

Like most places Bella Coola has houses that are nice, run-down and everywhere in between, but my eye is always drawn to this variety!

Though it’s not something I make a habit of, I like to poke around in cemeteries. There was one near where we stayed, which will pop up in the next post, but of much greater visual interest was the First Nations cemetery I chanced upon behind a tall row of shrubs after stopping to have a closer look at a roadside memorial.

Memorial to a trio lost at sea in 1952.

Memorial to a trio lost at sea in 1952.

The First Nations cemetery contained groupings of colourful crosses and adornments.

The First Nations cemetery contained groupings of colourful crosses and adornments.

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Our strike rate with trail walks during the week wasn’t flash. Two on our first day were aborted after an impromptu meeting with a bear and this dented my confidence. This was another attempted stroll to see some cedar trees but relaxed I was not.

...Hello bears?...

…Hello bears?…

Other miscellany…

Smokey Bear lives on!

Smokey Bear lives on!

Land of the yellow school bus.

Land of the yellow school bus.

Penultimate farmers' market for the year. Mmmm cookies.

Penultimate farmers’ market for the year. Mmmm cookies.

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Haley the pics are marvelous. Such a unique place. Love those totem poles. I’ve really liked seeing the pics of Canada. Such a pretty country.

    6 October 2016
    • Thanks Yvonne! I loved going back to Canada and the landscapes had a lot to do with it. I don’t think we saw totem poles anywhere else on our trip, though First Nations imagery /styling was in every souvenir shop we entered.

      8 October 2016
      • So you’ve been to Canada before. Have you visited much of the US/ There are beautiful places in just about every state, especially the western states, I think.

        12 October 2016
        • Been here and there but there’s still plenty I want to see! E.g haven’t done much in the western states. There’s a potential trip on the cards in 2018.

          13 October 2016

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