Great Canadian Parks / British Columbia

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The Parks / British Columbia / Pacific Rim National Park Reserve



 

Evidence found in the 290 archaeological sites indicates the presence of man in the park area for at least 4300 years. Nuu-chah-nulth creation legends place them on Vancouver Island since the beginning of the world. At the time of the first European contact, the bountiful sea and land had made possible the rich and complex society of over 9000 inhabitants who formed 23 independent native groups, now reduced to six. In 1787, Captain Charles Barkley traded with the natives for sea otter furs and his route was quickly followed. There ensued a history of deadly European-native conflicts until, in 1842 the Hudson’s Bay established its west coast operations in Fort Victoria, and settlers and itinerant traders established more acceptable trading practices. Foreign traders brought diseases against which the native people had no defense - warfare and epidemics reduced west coast populations by 75-90% - and wage-earning opportunities altered traditional life patterns and the dependency on natural resources. Settlers and loggers followed whalers and fur traders and a fishing industry developed in waters now protected by the park. A manned lighthouse, the first of three, was built at Cape Beale in 1874 in an effort to halt the history of so many lives lost in shipwrecks numbering 240 since 1803. In 1906, the Lifesaving Trail originally laid out in 1891 as a telegraph line route, was blazed from Bamfield to Carmanah Point as an escape route for shipwrecked sailors who would otherwise have perished in the interior's mountains and dense forest. Today, the West Coast Trail is considered one of the continent’s most challenging hiking trails. From 1910, the legendary Tofino Lifeboats gallant crews saved the lives of many mariners. When a military base was constructed during the Second World War, a switchback road joined Tofino and Ucluelet. In 1959, a roadway reached Long Beach from Port Alberni providing access for young people, among others, whose counter culture lifestyle attracted them to the wilderness in the 1960’s. Twenty years later the roadway provided environmentalist access when clear-cut logging threatened to eradicate old growth forests of Sitka spruce, giant red cedar and Douglas fir.



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