Port Hardy is Vancouver Island’s largest northern community, lying on the shores of the Queen Charlotte Strait resting between the slopes of the Vancouver Island Range and the Coastal Mountain Range across the strait. Some eight thousand years the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation settled what is now called Hardy Bay, named after the famed sea captain Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy. The sheltered location, deep-water harbour and wealth of aqua culture and natural resources that attracted the communities’ first settlers continue to attract a thriving tourism industry.
As the ‘End of the line’ Port Hardy acts as both the terminus of the BC Ferry service to Prince Rubert and the Central Coast with connections to the Queen Charlotte Islands and Alaska and the last community with paved road access in the north of the Island. Port Hardy’s fully serviced, all-weather airport ran by Transport Canada provides regular service to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) as well as to outposts along the Central Coast including Bella Bella, Prince Rupert and Klemtu. Port Hardy’s inner harbor shelters its state-of-the-art Seaplane Base offering service from Pacific Coastal Airlines and Vancouver Island Helicopters. As a juncture between civilization and immediate wilderness Port Hardy is rich with emerging sectors, natural beauty, cultural diversity and community spirit
Port Hardy serves as an excellent launching point for those seeking multi-day hiking adventure on the popular Cape Scott Trail or North Coast Trail. Rich cultural history including settlement by a variety of First Nations, Danish, British and American settlers has shaped this region as has the violent wind and rainstorms that tested their mettle over the centuries. The untamed forces of wilderness have reclaimed Cape Scott Provincial Park including migrating birds, a healthy wolf population and roaming black bears. Adventure seekers can expect encounters with these animals and should take appropriate precautions. The rugged coastlines and dynamic temperate rain forests of the Cape Scott area are beautiful but are not for the faint of heart. Come prepared for turbulent and unexpected weather. Service to the Cape Scott and the North Coast Trail by land or water taxi is available from Port Hardy with North Coast Trail Shuttle. For more info. For detailed information of the Cape Scott Provincial Park and its trail network visit this website.
For a more immediate and shorter-term hike Port Hardy has a diverse trail system for all ages and abilities. Carrot and Rotary Parks offer leisurely strolls while the more rugged Fort Rubert Trail delivers a short dose of what you might get on the longer Cape Scott and North Coast Trails. Port Hardy also offers a beautiful Harbour Walkway, having a Japanese garden planted along the route dedicated to Hardy’s sister city, Numata. From the bridge at Highway 19 follow one of two routes to Estuary Nature Trail or Quatse River Nature Trail where you may discover bears, salmon, steelhead and trout. Discover the educational Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre via the Quatse River Trail.
Port Hardy offers protected water sport fishing opportunities from salmon, cod and halibut and an abundance of shellfish. Local guides offer their professional services to fish local rivers and streams and both the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island.
If you are sailing by a private vessel to Port Hardy the large marina provides excellent moorage, offering eleven hundred and fifty metres of floats creating a hundred and ninety five slips. There is new moorage for vessels up to a hundred and fifty feet with 15-30 and 50-amp power as well as water. Adjacent to the marina is a modern hotel and restaurant servicing the area.
Alec and Sarah Lyon developed the current location of the community at the turn of the century. A land deal with the Hardy Bay Land Company in 1912 attracted the construction of a school, sawmill, church and hotel. The newly established community had limited access from the rest of Vancouver Island until a logging road was built connecting Port Hardy to Campbell River; this road was paved in 1979.
Operation of a copper mine burgeoned Port Hardy’s population to over 5,000 between the nineteen-seventies to the mid nineties when the mine closed its doors. Today Hardy’s population is just over four thousand and again growing steadily (%4.9 growth from 2011 census) as industry diversifies.