Telegraph Cove is tucked away on the eastern coast of Northern Vancouver Island. In 1912, Telegraph Cove was a one-room station, the northern terminus of a telegraph line that began in Campbell River and stretched from tree to tree along Vancouver Island’s east coast.
Next to the arts and crafts gallery stands the home of community pioneer Fred Wastell, whose father purchased most of the land around the cove. Together with Japanese investors, he established a chum salmon saltery and a small sawmill.
These days, the tiny town is a major destination during the summer months, when the snug little bay bustles with boaters, anglers, campers, kayakers and whale watchers. With its colourful buildings and peaceful inlet setting, Telegraph Cove, one of the last boardwalk communities of eastern Vancouver Island, is worth a visit even if you’re not planning to do any offshore exploring.
Location: Telegraph Cove is located on the eastern coast of Northern Vancouver Island, 30 minutes south of Port McNeill and 11 kilometers off the Island Highway via Beaver Cove Road. The top half of 280-mile-long Vancouver Island is served by a maze of logging roads, and Highway 19 (north Island Hwy), which links Telegraph Cove and Campbell River (2.5-hour drive).
Building on Stilts: Telegraph Cove is built on stilts, with buildings raised above the water on pilings and linked by an historic wooden boardwalk. Many of the original buildings still stand today.
Explore the North Island’s Kwakwaka’wakw culture. Archeologists have dated the first residents of this area to around 8,000 years ago!
Orca Sounds: Radio listeners within 15 kilometres of this killer whale sanctuary can tune into the all-whale radio station.
The Whale Interpretive Centre was established to increase public awareness about marine mammals in the area and the threats facing them. Its “Bones Project” exhibit includes complete skeletons of various species, including two types of whale, a sea lion, seal, dolphin and otter. You can also see the jaw bones of a blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit the earth.
North Island Discovery Centre is a foresty interpretive centre offering displays and free forestry tours in the summer, providing visitors with the opportunity to learn about the mighty forest industry in British Columbia. Check out a working fish incubation box and spawning redd, or find out what a Madill tower is all about. Located at the junction of Highway 19 and the road to Telegraph Cove.
Telegraph Cove is the gateway to Robson Bight (Michael Biggs) Ecological Reserve. Up to 200 Orcas arrive each summer to rub on the barnacle-encrusted rocks at the mouth of the Tsitika River. As the top predator on the inland-water food chain, they are also attracted by the annual salmon runs that funnel through Johnstone Strait beginning in late June. Stubbs Island Whale Watching in Telegraph Cove was the first whale-watching company in British Columbia, and whale-watching and wildlife-viewing companies are also based in Port McNeill, Alert Bay, Sointula, Sayward and Port Hardy.
Stubbs Island, located off Telegraph Cove, is a popular and fascinating dive site, featuring terraced ledges, sheer drop-offs and an opportunity to see orcas, dolphins and other marine mammals.
Golf: Golfers can head to the public, 9-hole, Par 35 Seven Hills Golf & Country Club in nearby Port Hardy, the northernmost golf course on Vancouver Island. Seven Hills offers the golfer meadering fairways and undulating greens, with scenic views of the North Island Mountains. Open year round. Vancouver Island Golf Vacations.
Fishing: The fishing areas around Telegraph Cove are not only surrounded by spectacular scenery and sheltered waters, but also contain some of the most consistent saltwater sports fishing on the BC coast.
Across the strait from Telegraph Cove is Broughton Archipelago Marine Provincial Park, a wilderness area consisting of a maze of several small islands, numerous inlets and adjacent foreshore at the southern extremity of Queen Charlotte Strait, off the west coast of Gilford Island. The islands in Broughton Archipelago 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.
Telegraph Cove is the place to begin exploring Johnstone Strait. You’ll find a boat launch and moorage, as well as fishing licences, tackle and bait for sale. This is a prime staging area for kayak departures. Long-term parking can be arranged here for those setting out on extended boating trips in Johnstone Strait.
Accessible only by boat or float plane, the mostly uninhabited Knight Inlet is located due north of Johnstone Strait and the small communities of Telegraph Cove and Sayward/Kelsey Bay on Vancouver Island. Knight Inlet cuts eighty miles through the remote Coast Range of Mountains to the head of Knight Inlet, and Mt. Waddington, the highest mountain located totally within British Columbia. Grizzly bears around Knight Inlet emerge from hibernation in spring (starting in April) to feed on the succulent new spring growth. Viewing peaks during fall (late August) when the salmon are running, as grizzlies converge on the salmon spawning streams to feed on the salmon and stock their fat reserves in preparation for winter ahead.