Gold River: 29 September 04
Gold River does not normally attract many tourists but there have been quite a few this past Summer. This is what they hope to see; Luna, the 5-year-old lonely Orca, "playing" with a boat. This boom boat is a fortunate choice since it's sturdily built to move bundles of logs and is jet powered so there's no rudder for Luna to damage and no prop to damage Luna. Other vessels have not been so lucky and small, slow vessels, such as sailboats, are urged to avoid Nootka Sound.
For us, Gold River is a 90 minute drive, mostly through Elk Falls and Strathcona Provincial Parks. The winding highway skirts a number of lakes including Upper Campbell lake (left) that feeds the Elk Falls power house and supplies drinking water to Campbell River. We time our visits for lunch at the very good Ridge Restaurant and Pub at the entrance to Gold River.
An unfortunate part of the landscape is this pulp mill, the major local employer, closed in 1998. It's a monument to management incompetence, not by Bowater who owned it at closure but by CIP who built and managed the mill. At one time they installed a newsprint machine and then removed and sold it because they couldn't make it run properly. CIP did everything on the cheap and paid a heavy price.
Industrial activity is now limited to logging, and this dry land sort where the logs are sorted by species and size, tied into bundles with steel cables while in the bunkers and then formed into log booms to be towed to saw mills.
The company town remains much as it was was with large schools, an aquatic centre and a shopping centre. However, the population is down to a few hundred and the town is too isolated to attract retirees to the bargain real estate.
There's a lot of vertical scenery around Gold River but much of it is spectacular as with Nootka Sound (above) or roadside waterfalls (right). It's also a great fishing destination and fishing has been good this year. But watch out for Luna!