The first registered town site on the Queen Charlotte Islands, as they were known then, the laid-back fishing village of Queen Charlotte City began as a land grant of 703 acres of fine waterfront property to three men in 1891. Sprawled along the shores of Bearskin Bay, Queen Charlotte City looks out over the islands of Skidegate Inlet, with Sleeping Beauty Mountain rising up in the background.
known by the locals as Queen Charlotte, or simply Charlotte, Queen Charlotte City was incorporated in 2005 with the official name of the Village of Queen Charlotte.
The small thriving village is a community of fishing and logging industries, offering a wide range of activities to the visitor. As the administrative centre for Haida Gwaii, Queen Charlotte City houses provincial and federal government offices, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) station, a general hospital, and a variety of businesses, services, shops and accommodations.
Location: Queen Charlotte City is located on Skidegate Inlet on the southern shore of Graham Island, 3 miles (5 km) west of the ferry terminal at Skidegate. 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.
View map of the area
Heritage Buildings: Several heritage buildings dating back to 1909 line the main road of Queen Charlotte City, providing interesting subjects for photographers. The Premier Hotel, the old hospital, the old schoolhouse, and the old sawmill site offer a fascinating glimpse into life in Queen Charlotte City in the early part of the twentieth century.
Sightseeing: Short sightseeing trips can be arranged out of Queen Charlotte to small islands in Skidegate Inlet, southwest of the village between Graham and Moresby Islands. View petroglyphs on Lina Island, and visit the Haida village of Haina on Maude Island, uninhabited since around 1890. Longer boat trips can also be arranged to more significant cultural sites, like Ninstints on Anthony Island in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, and Skedans on Louise Island.
Camping: There are tent sites plus several walk-in campsites at Hayden Turner Park on the west side of town. Kagan Bay Forest Service Recreation Site has campsites west of town on Honna Forest Service Road. A second road heads north and then west across Graham Island to the west coast and a pair of Forest Service campgrounds on Rennell Sound. The Cone Head Forest Service Recreation Site has space for vehicles/tents, and is about 9 miles (15km) north, past the vehicle Rennell Sound Forest Service Recreation Site.
Camping in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Hiking: Take a hike along the trail to the alpine meadows on Sleeping Beauty Mountain, and look out over Queen Charlotte City. In late summer the meadows are dotted with one of Haida Gwaii’s unique species of plants, the Newcombe’s Daisy, a beautiful yellow flower. The Sleeping Beauty Trail leads up to the top of Mount Genevieve – it’s not a long trail, but it is steep. Allow 90 minutes to reach the summit of Mount Genevieve.
Hiking & Backpacking in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Rennell Sound: Follow the backroads over the hogback ridge to Rennell Sound, where the rugged coastline, beautiful crescent beaches and excellent beachcombing, great hiking, fishing and kayaking make the trip very worthwhile. The beaches of Bonanza and Gregory Creeks are the easiest to walk to, and a 3-km trail leads to Riley Creek beach. Rennell Sound is the only point on the west coast accessible by road, but the final descent from the alpine down to the shore is a startling 24% gradient, one of the steepest public roads in North America. The Hill is not suitable for large campers and trailers. Check your brakes before making the steep descent down to the coast.
Fishing in Rennell Sound and the west coast of the islands is very productive, with Springs caught in May through September, and Halibut and other bottom fish generally present throughout the year.
Take a trip to Yakoun Lake, about 15 miles (25km) northwest of Queen Charlotte City, a popular freshwater fishing destination with a beautiful beach and a fabulous hike along Bellis Trail.
Diving: The west coast of Haida Gwaii is a diving paradise. Shore dives are possible from anywhere along the coastal road, and a small boat will give divers access to many great dive sites in relatively sheltered west coast conditions. Ask for information in Queen Charlotte City about the best dive sites in Rennell Sound.
Hospital Day in June has been a tradition since 1909, with the whole community participating in the parade, races, concessions, carnival booths, food booths, barbecues, a ball tournament, and a dinner and dance.
The Labour Day weekend hosts Community Days, with a parade, raffles, kids’ games, a dinner and a dance. Festivites commence on Saturday afternoon, and continue through Sunday with a slow-pitch ball tournament and other events.
East of Queen Charlotte City is the community of Skidegate, the cultural centre of the Haida Nation. The two ferry docks at Skidegate Landing serve ferries to Prince Rupert on the BC mainland, and to Alliford Bay on Moresby Island.
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.