Keeping alert in Alert Bay

Our trip from Dead Point Cove to Alert Bay

The superb U’mista Cultural Center here in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island ( is one of the relatively few items on our “must see” list for this journey. We visited the Center when we were here five years ago, and we are so happy to return when we have more time to explore its rich resources. “U’mista” means “The return of something important” in Kwakwala, and the Center bears this name because most of its collection consists of ceremonial and other cultural items seized illegally from the First Nations by the Canadian government and now returned. From the Center’s Website: “The present facility was opened in November of 1980. The focus of the permanent collection is the ‘Potlatch Collection’. The other permanent exhibits on display include description of the traditional ethnobiology of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw and origin stories of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw villages, as well as historical and contemporary Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw objects. Traveling exhibits of significance to the community are also displayed.”

We left Dead Point Cove in late morning today (Tuesday, May 10) and motored for about three hours, with a somewhat nervous me at the helm, beneath clouds and through “sun showers” and among more islands and islets separated by some narrow, shallow passages. We are now on the Alert Bay Boat Harbour dock that will be our “home” for the next few days (depending on weather, as always). Stephen, the Harbourmaster, helped us tie up and register, and then Walt and I meandered along the waterfront boardwalk toward the village center, through brief showers and with the companionship of a few sunbeams, finding the grocery store/deli, the pharmacy, the Information Center, the small but cozy and welcoming library and museum, and the “fancy” restaurant along the way. We met some very friendly, chatty folks and enjoyed the outing.

Alert Bay Harbour on a rainy day

Walt is still trying to get the Iridium GO to go as a communication device for use in remote areas (he thinks the device is actually defective and will have to be returned and a new one sent), and we are beginning to plan the next portion of our journey north. Doing a good bit of walking around this area over the next several days will be a welcome and healthy “change of pace!”

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