The Village of Gold River in Nootka Sound
Gold River, with a population of over 1300 people is located adjacent to Strathcona Park at the end of Hwy. 28, 89km from Campbell River. Gold River was named by the Spaniards in the 1700s. Built in 1965 to service a community dependent on the newly built pulp mill, Gold River was the first town in Canada to have all underground wiring. When the pulp mill closed in 1998, the community’s focus turned to rebuilding and attracting more tourists to this recreational paradise. The area now offers accommodations, shopping, dining, and outdoor activities galore.
Once constructed, the Village of Gold River’s amenities rivaled those found in much larger centres – Recreation Facilities include an aquatic centre and recreation complex, skating and curling arena, town square, numerous parks with baseball diamonds and sports fields, a golf course, and a full compliment of retail and professional services. Local School District #84 has 2 schools in Gold River servicing about 200 students.
It’s now a central hub for marine and seaplane access to the smaller communities, fishing lodges and wilderness camps that dot this section of the pacific coast of Vancouver Island and the home port of the MV Uchuck III, a coastal freighter which also carries tourists and drops off and picks up kayakers and hikers exploring remote areas of Kyuquot and Nootka Sound.
The pulp mill which the community was built to serve is now gone, and the village and people have experienced a rebirth in the past decade. As many families left, they were replaced by new residents attracted to the wilderness setting, the affordable housing, the family friendly community, and the many opportunities for growth. Gone is the reliance on a single resource industry, replaced by a new mix of enterprises that focus on a broader range of tourism and recreation activities as well as smaller scale manufacturing, aquaculture, and forest based resources.
Blessed with a moderate climate, clean air, fresh water, and room for expansion, this Village is now home to a mix of retired folks who like the affordability and the weather, and young families with children who appreciate the small town friendliness and the opportunity to build a life in a beautiful wilderness setting.
The Gold River area is well known for its fishing – including excellent freshwater fishing, with steelhead season beginning in December. Nootka Sound is a popular saltwater fishing destination as well. Fishermen come for tyee salmon, and halibut up to 175 lbs, as well as red snapper, rock cod and ling cod.
The Upana Caves, 17km from Gold River, require approximately an hour for a self-guided tour of these limestone caves. Mountain climbers visit nearby Strathcona Provincial Park to climb Kings Peak, Elkhorn Mountain and Crest Craggs.
Local tours include trips to Friendly Cove, Hot Springs Cove, Rugged Point Provincial Marine Park and Nootka Sound. Scenic hiking paths nearby range from 20 minutes to an hour. Buttle Lake features several hiking trails up to 6 hours.
The 38th annual Great Walk-Ultramarathon, a 63.5km walkathon between Tahsis and Gold River, is currently planned for June 6th, 2015. Visit their website at www.greatwalk.com for more information.