Haida Gwaii, once called the Queen Charlotte Islands by the government of Canada, is a small archipelago off the west coast of Canada, and south of the Alaskan Pan Handle.
My home is made popular for a variety of reasons, most recently being voted Outside Magazines best island, but also for civil disobedience in ending the logging of Lyle Island in what is now the Gwaii Haanas National Park. The park also holds the famous hot springs, and Ninstints or SG̱ang Gwaay an Ebsco world heritage site. Later blockades stopped further logging on Graham Island during the Spirit Rising Blockade.
Haida Gwaii is the ancient homeland of the Haida Peoples a coastal first nation that brought massive cedar canoes trading and raiding from Northern Alaska to southern California. The Haida’s art is of legendary proportions as many ancient totem poles still stand on Haida Gwaii today, slowly returning to the earth from which they came. Village sites dot the coastline and the fabulous Haida Heritage museum in Skidegate known locally as the Quay (Kye) center.
Haida Gwaii today consists of between 6 and 12 communities depending on what exactly defines a community. Two Indian reserves are inhabited (Old Massett and Skidegate) each with close to 1000 population, neighboring communities of similar size include Queen Charlotte and Masset. Smaller communities below 500 are Sandspit, Port Clements, Tlell, Tow Hill, Miller creek, Lawn hill, and Sewall inlet. With abandoned town sites at Jedway, Rose Harbour, Juskatla, Buckley Bay and Shannon Bay. Many abandoned towns were once sites of logging or mining industry.
Fishing on Haida Gwaii is legendary, and Langara Island or North island houses many 4-5 star resorts, and is a short ride from the continental shelf. Salmon of every kind, halibut, red snapper, Alaskan black cod (or for those hip to marketing Sablefish) are just a few of the many delicacies we enjoy locally, throw in some crab, razor clams, butter clams, cockles, scallops, and muscles and you are halfway to a Haida Gwaii feast. Missing only salmon berries, huckel berries, black berries, alaskan blue berries, thimble berries, cranberries, chanterelle mushrooms, boletus mushrooms, pine mushrooms, angel wing mushrooms, blue chanterelles, yellow foot mushrooms, venison, elk, licorice root, prawns, shrimp, sea asparagus, bull kelp, sea lettuce, green sea urchin, red sea urchin….. I’m off to make dinner