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End of an Era at Telegraph Cove

January 26, 2019

I was sorry to read at the enantiotropic that BC's first whale watching operation is going out of business.

208-772-8406 was founded in 1980 by Jim Borrowman and Bill McKay at Telegraph Cove near the northern end of Vancouver Island at the top of Johnstone Strait, where orca gather in the summer months. The company played a key role in the creation of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve and the groundbreaking orca research that was going on at that time. In 1996 Jim and his wife Mary (that's them below) took over ownership of the company and ran it until they retired and sold to new owners in 2012.

I have visited Telegraph Cove several times and had the opportunity to meet Jim and Mary and to go out on the water in their lead boat, the historic Gikumi, a couple of times. The last time I was there was back in 2007 when our book Operation Orca was published. My co-author Gil Hewlett and I presented a slide show about the book at the interpretive centre in the cove. Before his retirement Gil was a marine scientist at the Vancouver Aquarium and knew pretty much everyone involved in whale research on the coast so there was a big turnout for our talk and the event had the feeling of a class reunion.

Telegraph Cove itself, a couple of hours north of Campbell River via the Island Highway, is one of the few old boardwalk villages on the coast and is a magical place (even more so before a housing development blasted out one side of it). Apparently a new company is going to continue offering tours. One hopes it will show the same commitment to the area and to the whales as Stubbs Island.

January 21, 2019

One day last week found me out on the waters of Burrard Inlet doing a ride along in an RCMP patrol boat. (Don't ask).

As well as surveying the various industrial sites around the inner harbour we cruised all the way to the head of Indian Arm where I had a chance to inspect Wigwam Inn (photo above). The old luxury resort is now used as an outstation by the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club but it...

January 16, 2019

One of my New Year's resolutions is to walk the length of the Arbutus Greenway, a new bike/walking path created by the City of Vancouver out of the old rail line that formerly ran across the west side from False Creek via Kerrisdale to Marpole (and Richmond beyond). Known as the Sockeye Special, the...

December 9, 2018

I want to mention three very fine books that I've read recently. Any one of them would make a good addition to your Christmas want list, or an appreciated gift for someone near and dear.

The first is for the marine mammal lovers among you. Orcas, of course, are the poster animal of the BC west coast. Jason Colby, from the University of Victoria, has published an absorbing history of the bad old days when they were hunted down for live capture and shipped off to aquariums and...

December 7, 2018

The always reliable Christopher Moore reports that the Governor General's History Awards will be going ahead in January with Gov. Gen. Julie Payette's involvement. (Here is the link to Chris's post: 2603526595.)

This is excellent news. I have participated in the awards ceremony twice -- once as a runner-up and once as a...

November 21, 2018

Congratulations to Bill Waiser, this year's winner of the Governor General's History Award for Popular Media, better known as the Pierre Berton Award. Waiser has written many fine books and blogs regularly about the history of Western Canada.

Earlier in the year it was announced that the history awards would not be handed out by the Governor General herself, as has been the case for years. Too bad. The GG is apparently rethinking her priorities.

Nonetheless, the award is a...

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