Originally a Haida fish camp, ranchers and farmers from England eventually established the area around Tlell, which is now home to a colourful collection of artisans. One of the original homesteaders, Mexican Tom, set up his ranch in Tlell in 1904, and was soon followed by others.
This small scattered ranching community marks the southeast corner of Naikoon Provincial Park.
You’ll find fascinating art galleries, studios, shops, and a fine choice of quaint accommodation in Tlell, which has earned the reputation of being the heart of the islands’ art community.
Location: Located 43 kilometres north of the ferry terminal at Skidegate in Haida Gwaii, Tlell is the northernmost settlement on the east coast of Graham Island before the road swings inland toward Port Clements and Masset.
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.
Artisans: Watch out for the blue and white ‘A’ for Artisan sign that marks the turn-off at Wiggins Road to an art gallery offering gold gemstone jewellery and featuring authentic Haida carved argillite sculptures and Haida carved gold and silver jewellery.
Naikoon Provincial Park gets its name from a corruption of the Haida term for ‘long nose,’ which was the Haida name for Rose Spit, one of the most prominent features in the park. The headquarters for the park are located on the highway just south of the bridge over the Tlell River.
Camping: Misty Meadows Campground is located near the Naikoon Provincial Park headquarters in Tlell. Facilities provided include pit toilets, water and a picnic-day use area with shelter. Further from Tlell, at the northern end of Naikoon Provincial Park, is Agate Beach Campground, equipped with cooking shelters, pit toilets and water. Wilderness camping is permitted throughout the park, and rustic wilderness shelters are located along East Beach near the mouths of Cape Ball and Oceanda Rivers, and at Fife Point.
Camping in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Hiking: There are two hiking trails running through Naikoon Provincial Park near Tlell, and hiking time ranges from a few hours to a few days. The longest trail is the East Beach Trail, 55 miles (90 km) from the Tlell River Bridge to Rose Point, a three- to four-day hike along mostly level terrain with three shelters along the route. The easier direction is south to north so as to have the prevailing southeast wind at your back. Strong hikers can do the East Beach Trail from the Tlell River Bridge to Cape Ball River and back in a day (8.5 miles/14.5 km one way). A second trail runs 3 miles (5 km) one way from the Tlell River Bridge and leads to the Pesuta Shipwreck, an old log barge that was wrecked here in a storm in 1928.
Hiking & Backpacking Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Fishing: The Tlell River is famous for excellent Fishing, with huge runs of Coho salmon and Steelhead, and the beach is perfect for picnics, walks and beachcombing. The lower portion of the winding Tlell River has wide grassy/sandy areas affected by tidal changes.
Boat Launch: There’s a boat launch and picnic facilities at Mayer Lake, midway between Tlell and Port Clements, and wilderness camping along the lakeshore for people making extended fishing voyages. Mayer Lake and Tlell River are the most accessible freshwater fishing spots in Naikoon Provincial Park.
The Richardson Ranch in Tlell is the oldest operating ranch in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), purchased in 1919 by Englishman Eric Richardson. Descendants of the Richardson family still farm the ranch and operate the only animal hospital and clinic on the island.
St. Mary’s Spring: On the roadside about 2 kilometres north of Skidegate, near Lawn Hill, is St. Mary’s Spring, marked by a saintly-looking wood carving. Island legend says that if you drink from the spring, you will return to the Haida Gwaii islands in the future.
In August, attend the Edge of the World Music Festival in the Tlell Fall Fair Grounds. The festival has been a popular event on Haida Gwaii since 1975, and has grown from being a celebration of local musical talent to the inclusion of world-class musicians, attracting national and even international visitors to Haida Gwaii.
Pioneer Homesteads: Along the highway between Tlell and Skidegate, fields and small farms mark the sites of many pioneer homesteads. At one time, there were several homesteads along the old North Road inland, a wireless station at Dead Tree Point, a post office, and a store at Miller Creek.
To the south of Tlell is the Haida community of Skidegate on the shores of Rooney Bay, known for years as Skidegate Mission. The ferry terminal at Skidegate provides ferry access to Prince Rupert on the BC mainland, and Alliford Bay on Moresby Island.
Northwest of Tlell is the logging and fishing village of Port Clements, a wonderful place to observe the giant trees of the temperate rainforest. Located at the estuary of the Yakoun River on Masset Inlet, Port Clements became the supply centre for giant spruce trees used in the construction of First World War military airplanes.
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.