Effectively round in shape; an Island, 3 or 4 leagues in circuit laying before the entrance into Bute’s Canal, received the name Stuart’s Island.
The Village of Friendly Indians
Rising abruptly out of the water to reach heights of 270 meters directly out of the water, the island achieved historical significance by the sketch in Captain Vancouver’s journal which shows a point opposite the island in the mouth of Bute Inlet, called by his exploration party “The Village of Friendly Indians.” Today Stuart Island provides wharves and landings for the yachts and launches of the rich and famous sport fishermen who come to fish the Yaculta Rapids that lie along the western shore of the island. These rapids, situated in a narrow channel between Stuart Island and the main land are now known as the Arrans and were named after the island of Arran in the Firth of Clyde, county of Bute, Scotland by the British Admiralty surveyors in 1863.
The Arran Rapids
When first explored, the Arran rapids were heard before they were seen and described with amazement by their swiftness with an aspect being a most strange and picturesque one. “The waters look like a race from a waterfall and on them great numbers of fish are constantly jumping. Flocks of seagulls settle on the surface at the entrance of the channel and after allowing themselves to be carried to its end by its rapid course, fly back to their original position”, as described in Captain Vancouver’s journal.
The Railway must go through
British Columbia joined Confederation on July 20, 1871, at this time the Canadian Pacific Railway began its survey of the province to decide on a suitable terminus for the transcontinental railway. By 1872 the surveyors had reached Stuart Island, chosen for their headquarters while they explored the neighbouring islands and channels to “ascertain how far it may be practicable to reach Victoria, Esquimalt and other ports on Vancouver Island by a continuous line of Railway from the mainland.”
The plan was to lay a bridge across the Arrans to Stuart Island, another from Stuart Island across Cordero Channel to Sonora Island, Maurelle, Stuart then finally over Seymour narrows via Maud Island to Vancouver Island. Shortly after, all records of the survey’s were destroyed in a fire and another attempt at charting the course was made. This time they came to the conclusion that a steamboat could take a railway train on board and pass from Bute Inlet through the cross channels dividing the Valdes Islands of “Sonora, Maurelle and Quadra” to Vancouver Island. However Engineer in Chief Sandford Fleming decided both ides were impractical and plans to make the crossing in this area were abandoned for a more southerly approach.
The First Fisherman
In 1952 a plane landed in Big Bay and an American traveller disembarked, his quest was to fish for the coveted Tyee that were reported to frequent these waters. The Brimacombe family, long term residence of the bay made up a bed for him on their couch. Hi fishing efforts were greatly rewarded, the next season more Americans arrived and the Brimacombes managed to squeeze them into nooks and crannies all over the house. That next winter the Brimacombes spend the season building a small bungalow that could house up to 10 guests attached to the new home hey had built earlier. No advertising was done, but the cottage was full every season with the guest book sporting such names as Roy Rogers, Ethel and Robert Kennedy, Governor Albert Rosellini and Senator Jackson. Hence the foundation was set for a long relationship between the sport fishery off the coasts of Stuart Island and the rich and famous.
Soon boats were packed four and five deep around the floats in July and August and the anchorages were crowded with voyagers’ crafts. By necessity airline services began making scheduled stops, some twice a day. The fish buyers, fish camps and ice packers of past days are now all gone; but the visitor trade has consistently flourished and is still strong today.