Located on the southern shore of Skidegate Inlet in Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, Alliford Bay is the Moresby Island terminus of the important inter-island ferry between Alliford Bay and Skidegate Landing on Graham Island.
The route is served by the M.V. Kwuna, a small ferry built in 1975, that shuttles between the two main islands of Haida Gwaii several times a day, carrying passengers and vehicles on the 20-minute ferry ride.
Alliford Bay also serves as a seaplane base for flights to remote communities, lakes, inlets and parks on the islands. Anglers flying from Vancouver to Sandspit are bussed to Alliford Bay for floatplane flights to the fishing lodges deep in the wilderness frontiers of Langara Island, Kano Inlet, Naden Harbour, and other world-class fishing areas of the islands that are not accessible by road.
Alliford Bay was originally built as a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) seaplane air base, operating during World War ll. The base was shut down after the war, and the community of Alliford Bay gradually evolved into a logging centre. Alliford Bay is named after Able Seaman William Alliford of the Royal Navy vessel Beaver, which surveyed the bay in 1866.
Location: Alliford Bay is located 15 minutes west of Sandspit on the northern shore of Moresby Island. The Haida Gwaii islands are accessed by ferry from Prince Rupert to the Skidegate Landing Ferry Terminal on Graham Island, by air from Vancouver to Sandspit on Moresby Island (770 km), and by air from Prince Rupert to Sandspit. Other commercial air services (including float planes and helicopters) are available at Sandspit, Queen Charlotte City and Masset. A 20-minute ferry ride connects Graham and Moresby Islands.
A circle tour on Moresby Island known as The Loop incorporates Alliford Bay, Sandspit, a drive south alongside Hecate Strait to Copper Bay, and a detour to Gray Bay. Back on the road, head west along the Copper River, past Skidegate Lake, and another optional detour to Mosquito Lake and Moresby Camp, before returning to your starting point at Alliford Bay. With so many gravel beaches to explore, trails to walk, and lakes and communities to visit, this drive makes for a very pleasant day-trip.
The Skidegate Inlet Sportfishing Association operates the Alliford Bay Hatchery, working to enhance coho salmon stocks on local creeks, including Blaine Creek, Baxter Creek, Haans Creek, and Sachs Creek. In modern fish hatcheries, eggs are taken from mature female salmon, fertilized with milt from males, and incubated under carefully controlled conditions. Smolts are later released back into the streams.
The small houses along School Road in nearby Sandspit were built by the personnel stationed at the RCAF seaplane air base in Alliford Bay during World War ll. They were later moved from the beach at Sachs Creek into Sandspit after the base closed down.
Fishing: Fishing is excellent in the Alliford Bay area, with bluejacks, springs and halibut caught off Sandspit Bar and Sachs Creek, which flows to Kwuna Point just before the ferry landing, and pinks and coho are caught in Haans Creek and South Bay, southeast of Alliford Bay. The Deena River, which flows into South Bay, supports a good steelhead run during early spring, and good coho salmon fishing in October and November.
The best lake fishing on Moresby Island is found in Mosquito Lake and Skidegate Lake, both of which are near Moresby Camp. Mosquito Lake is closer to Moresby Camp, about 3 miles (5 km) to the northwest, and anglers fishing for cutthroat and dolly varden will be relieved to know that Mosquito Lake was named after the Second World War bomber, and not the wretched bug. The Pallant River flows out of Mosquito Lake to Cumshewa Inlet, and has a good steelhead run in the winter and spring months. Skidegate Lake is about 10 miles (16 km) south of Alliford Bay, and offers good cutthroat fishing during the spring, early summer and fall months.
Camping: Moresby Island has four Forest Service campgrounds. To find them, drive 9 miles (15 km) east from the ferry landing at Alliford Bay to Sandspit. Follow the main road south from there as it leads to two Forest Service campgrounds on the island’s more sheltered east coast. The Gray Bay Campground 13 miles (21 km) southeast of Sandspit has two locations. A smaller campground on Sheldens Bay is located about 7 miles (11 km) farther south. Southwest of Alliford Bay are vehicle recreation site on Mosquito Lake, 27 miles (44 km) from Sandspit, and the vehicle site at Moresby Camp, 4.5 miles (7 km) beyond.
Camping in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Hiking: The Onward Point Trail is a short 15-minute trail that offers different levels of hiking – located a ten-minute drive from Alliford Bay. The Gray Bay-Cumshewa Head Trail leads 3 miles (4.5 km) from the end of the Forest Service road near Sheldens Bay along the shoreline to Cumshewa Head, one of the easternmost points on Moresby Island.
Hiking & Backpacking in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Logging Roads: A logging road runs 25 miles (40 km) south from Alliford Bay to Moresby Camp, the first 9 miles (15 km) of which are paved. When travelling on logging roads, drivers should drive with headlights on, observe the 50 km/h speed limit, stay alert for posted signs and indications of oncoming traffic, and grant right of way to the monster logging trucks. The roads are safest to travel between 6 pm and 7 am, or on weekends.
To the east of Alliford Bay is the hamlet of Sandspit, located on the northeastern tip of Moresby Island. The only settlement on Moresby Island, Sandspit lines both sides of the low-lying spit of land protruding into Hecate Strait that houses the airstrip, the main airport for Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Across Skidegate Inlet is the Haida community of Skidegate on the shores of Rooney Bay, known for years as Skidegate Mission. Skidegate was a village site for many years and became the location of the United Church Mission at the turn of the century.
Circle Tours: See the best of Northern BC and Haida Gwaii on one of the Circle Tours that capture the wonders of the north. The Inside Passage Circle Tour and the Native Heritage Circle Tour include Haida Gwaii by catching a ferry from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands).
Circle Tours in British Columbia.