Von Donop Inlet is a long, narrow sheltered anchorage on the northwestern tip of Cortes Island in the BC Discovery Island, entered from northern Sutil Channel.
This undeveloped marine wilderness is a joint venture between the Klahoose First Nation band and BC Parks. The wilderness Ha’thayim Marine Provincial Park encompasses numerous lakes (Robertson and Wiley), estuaries, Von Donop saltwater lagoon, and the old-growth forest the Coast-Salish people call “Ha’thayim.”
Lush forests of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar, with scattered patches of Sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, big-leaf maple and red alder that characterize the southern British Columbia coast are well represented around Von Donop Inlet. The old-growth forest between the inlet and Robertson Lake and Wiley Lake and the mature second-growth forest along the outlet of Robertson Lake are part of the area’s mosaic. Undergrowth, in the form of red huckleberry, salal, Oregon grape and other shrubs and shade-tolerant ferns and flowering plants contributes to this forest’s natural diversity.
Ha’thayim was named Von Donop Inlet by Captain Daniel Pender of the Royal Navy, who conducted extensive hydrographic surveys in the area from 1860 until 1879. The name commemorates Victor Edward John Breton Von Donop, a midshipman, who arrived aboard HMS Charybis at Esquimalt in 1862. Charybis, a ship of 21 guns, had been dispatched to Canada from China at the time of the American Civil War when it seemed possible that hostilities might break out between Great Britain and the United States. Since it was first surveyed, this quiet inlet has contributed to the economy of British Columbia. Evidence of past logging and settlement is inconspicuous, as much of the area is being reclaimed by nature.
Wilderness camping is permitted in Ha’thayim (Von Donop) Marine Provincial Park and the area is popular with cruising boats seeking remote tranquility in this beautiful area. The park features a number of secure anchorages providing protection from the elements. Von Donop Inlet is located at the southern terminus of the scenic Inside Passage. This mostly sheltered route has been popular with boaters for thousands of years. Today, yachts and kayaks have replaced hand trollers and dugout canoes as the methods of travel through the western route of Discovery Channel, where Ripple Rock made passage sometimes treacherous, or through the eastern approach through Yuculta Rapids.
Opportunities for wildlife viewing, kayaking in the park’s sheltered waters, wilderness camping (no fees), hiking and exploration exist in this rugged 1,277-hectare park, which features reversing tidal rapids, steep-sided fjords, and tidal flats within its boundaries. There are no designated hiking trails in the park, although a rough route does exist from the bay to Squirrel Cove, outside the park (approximately 5 km).
The park is home to Flying squirrels and Douglas squirrels, as well as river otter and mink. Harbour seals are often seen in the inlet, and during the winter months, Steller’s and California sea lions are present. Killer whales occasionally pass through Sutil Channel, but rarely enter Von Donop inlet. Ha’thayim contains excellent shellfish, including butter clams and littleneck clams. Check with the Department of Fisheries in Campbell River for recent information on harvesting and Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) regulations. Other forms of sea life present include jellyfish, sea sponges, cucumbers, octopus and turnicates. Nearby waters are noted for salmon and rockfish.
Seabird populations increase during the winter months in the park. During spring and summer, visitors can hear the calls of varied thrush and Swainson’s thrush, a variety of flycatchers as well as yellow-rumped Townsend’s and black-throated grey warblers. Bald eagles are often seen soaring above the inlet.
No facilities are provided, aside from one pit toilet located at the far end of the bay. However, farther down the inlet there are picnic tables ashore. Visitors should bring their own drinking water, as potable water is not available in the park. The park does not have a boat launch. The nearest boat launch is located at Whaletown on Cortes Island, approximately 15 km south of the park. A boat launch is also located at Heriot Bay on neighbouring Quadra Island.
Ha’thayim (Von Donop) Marine Provincial Park is located on Cortes Island in the Discovery Islands of British Columbia, between Vancouver Island and the mainland of BC. Access to the park is by private boat only, from Heriot Bay on Quadra Island and Whaletown on Cortes Island. Boaters can reference marine chart #3538.
Nearby Regions & Towns