Historic buildings and boats in Telegraph Cove's harbour
(Brendan van Son photo)

Telegraph Cove

Culture & History

The Johnstone Strait and Broughton Archipelago region is the homeland of the Kwakwaka'wakw First Nation, which migrated here as early as 9,000 years ago.

Aboriginal bands speaking the Kwakwaka'wakw language constitute a significant minority and the majority in many smaller communities. They imbue the region with a rich cultural heritage and compelling recent history.

How Telegraph Cove Got its Name

Telegraph Cove's history as a lumber mill and salmon saltery goes back to the early 20th Century. It acquired its name in 1912 when the Superintendent of Telegraphs was shopping for a lineman's station and northern terminus for the telegraph line from Campbell River. The protected fishing village proved ideal. Telegraph Cove became the community's name.

Lumber Mill and Saltery

In the 1920s, cove founder Alfred Marmaduke "Duke" Wastell, with help from Japanese and Chinese labourers, introduced industry as a small lumber mill and salmon saltery. In the 1930s, the lumber business prospered and expanded. Telegraph Cove logs helped erect buildings throughout the North Island.

WWII – Relay Station

The village was a relay station during WWII. Many of the buildings restored for the Telegraph Cove Resort came from this period of history.

Whale Watching & Sports Fishing

For decades, Telegraph Cove remained a sleepy hamlet of boardwalks and wooden buildings built on pilings on the coast. Boat was the only means of transportation. Automobile access arrived only in 1956 and with it, the potential for tourism. By the 1970s, the lumber mill and salmon saltery were ending their historic runs. Now it was time for vacationers, sport fishermen and whale watchers. Stubbs Island Whale Watching, the very first outfit of its kind in BC, launched in 1980 and has never looked back.

Broughton Archipelago Marine Park

Today Telegraph Cove, with two resorts, two marinas and three RV parks, is a hub for activity in the vast marine park of the Broughton Archipelago. Celebrated oceanographer Jacques Cousteau called it one of the best places in the world to view and enjoy Orcas in their natural environment.

Things to Do in Telegraph Cove

As the base for whale watching, Telegraph Cove remains an original. But its slate of activities has expanded to include saltwater fishing, freshwater fishing, hiking, caving, ocean kayaking and diving. Its culture is the outdoors, and its spirit one of exploration, discovery and exhilaration.