Offshore from Port McNeill on the northeast shore of Vancouver Island is picturesque Malcolm Island, offering scenic beauty, excellent fishing and a fascinating history.
Originally established as a Finnish settlement nearly a century ago, the Finnish culture still exists today, and is evident in the neat and tidy houses and gardens that surround the town of Sointula.
Sandwiched between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia, Malcolm Island lies right in the path of the main migratory route of the Pacific Salmon. The calm and tranquil waters around Malcolm Island boast some of the best salmon sport fishing in the world, as the migrating salmon head south to their spawning grounds in the streams and rivers of Vancouver Island and the BC west coast, and further south to Puget Sound in Washington State.
Wildlife abounds on and around Malcolm Island; Bald Eagles, porpoises, seals, otters, Orcas, Humpback Whales and countless species of sea birds. On land you will see black bear, deer and mink.
At 15 miles (23 km) long and 3 miles (5 km) wide, Malcolm Island is all about relaxing; a place where visitors can adjust to an island pace of life and feel a part of the community. Slow down and stay a while!
Sointula: The hub and seaport of Malcolm Island is the community of Sointula, a town rich in history and heritage as a Finnish settlement in the early 1900s.
Cyclists will enjoy the quiet ride along Kaleva Road, which hugs the island’s southern shoreline as it winds through rural pastures and weathered cottages. Stop for a stroll along the beach, explore Mitchell Bay, an idyllic enclave at the southern end of Malcolm Island, or break out the kayak and explore the shoreline waters.
Hiking: Hikers won’t want to miss the annual 25-kilometre Harmony Hike, held in June.
Bere Point Regional Park is a favourite getaway for islanders, and the only public campground on Malcolm Island. Located 5 km from Sointula on the island’s north shore, the park has a beautiful beach and 8 beach-access campsites at Bere Point Campsite, with outhouses, firewood, a boat launch, and a day-use picnic area. A short trail from Bere Point leads to the Beautiful Bay Trail, which winds along a ridge for 2.5 miles (4 kms) through a stunning rainforest with occasional glimpses of the sea below.
Birdwatching: Twitchers can birdwatch at Rough Bay, where the tidal flats are a popular stopping point for shorebirds.
Accommodation: If you succumb to the Island’s charm and decide to stay longer, there are a number of bed and breakfasts, cottages, and guesthouses scattered throughout Sointula and Mitchell Bay. For those with tents or RV’s, there are private campgrounds as well as the small public site at Bere Point.
Fishing: Blackfish Sound east of Cormorant Island is productive for salmon fishing, offering feeder chinooks throughout the year. The first migratory chinooks appear in late May through to August, followed by the sockeye (June to August), pinks (July to August), coho in mid July, northern coho in September and chum salmon from late August through to October. Winter chinook end off the year by passing through toward the end of December. Halibut fishing commences in April to June, and continues through the summer to September – open water depths of 200 to 400 feet are most productive. Concentrate on Richards Channel, Ripple Passage and Bolivar Passage. Halibut around the 100 lb mark are brought in regularly, with monsters of over 200 lbs caught occasionally.
Across the Labouchere Passage to the northeast of Malcolm Island is the wonderful Broughton Archipelago Marine Provincial Park, a wilderness area consisting of a maze of several small islands, numerous islets and adjacent foreshore at the southern extremity of Queen Charlotte Strait, off the west coast of Gilford Island. The islands in the marine park are undeveloped and are largely undiscovered. Facilities are limited to a day-use recreation. The numerous remote, solitary islands incorporated in the park provide unlimited and unique fishing and swimming opportunities, and are fabulous for exploring by kayak.