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Tofino and Clayoquot Sound

May 26, 2014 by  

Tofino and Clayoquot Sound, Clayoquot Sound is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in the Canadian province of British Columbia. It is bordered by the Esowista Peninsula to the south, and the Hesquiaht Peninsula to the North. It is a body of water with many inlets and islands. Major inlets include Sydney Inlet, Shelter Inlet, Herbert Inlet, Bedwell Inlet, Lemmens Inlet, and Tofino Inlet. Major islands include Flores Island, Vargas Island, and Meares Island. The name is also used for the larger region of land around the waterbody (essentially its watershed).

The name Clayoquot is derived from the name of a subgroup of the Nuu-chah-nulth, who lived at Clayoqua, today merged into the multi-group band government known as the Tla-o-qui-aht, meaning “different” or “changing”.

First Nations have inhabited the area for thousands of years. The oldest dated location within Nuu-cha-nulth territory is 4200 years (at Yuquot, Nootka Island). However due to a number of factors, including rising post-glacial sea-level rise, most will date the beginnings of human habitation beyond 9,000 years before present.

In the late 18th century, Clayoquot Sound was explored by various European and American ships, which were mainly involved in the fur trade. In 1791 the complex inner waters were explored and mapped by José María Narváez and Juan Carrasco while their commander, Francisco de Eliza met and befriended Wickaninnish, the chief of the Tla-o-qui-aht peoples.

The region’s wealth of natural resources was discovered in the 18th century with the arrival of the first European explorers. This wealth attracted growing numbers of foreigners, limiting First Nation access to land, and creating increasing displeasure among the locals. Government support of private company resource extraction allowed for the growth of this industry over time, resulting in the presence of logging companies in the Clayoquot Sound in the 1980s and 1990s.

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