A Short History:
Campbell River is nestled on the east coast of central Vancouver
Island. It has been known as the 'Salmon Capital'
of the World. Campbell River is a natural destination,
in more ways than one.
Capture the spirit of Campbell River ... stroll in sea
breezes on Discovery Pier and you might see a salmon, eagle,
or whale. Take in views of Discovery Passage, Quadra Island
and, in the distance, the rugged Coast Mountain Range of
mainland British Columbia. Explore trails along Campbell
River's namesake, a designated British Columbia Heritage
River. Restore your soul amidst streams and lakes in forests
kept green by the mild Pacific Coast climate.
Campbell River is a coastal municipality located on Discovery
Passage, on the north east side of Vancouver Island. Spread
out before Campbell River are the islands of Quadra, Cortes,
Read, Sonora and Thurlow.
There were six seasonal Indian Villages in and around Campbell
River when Captain George Vancouver landed on Quadra Island
Archibald Menzies, a botanist with Captain Vancouver, identified
the Native people living here as Salish speaking. Sometime
after the British explorers were here, the Salish abandoned
these villages and retreated south. Possession of
the rich salmon fishing grounds and the strategic trading
position offered by the narrow Discovery Passage was taken
up by the Lewiltok people. They established their
current villages at Campbell River and Quadra Island, making
this area the southern most territory of the Kwakiutl speaking
Shortly after the gold rush began in the 1860's, extensive
mapping and charting of the coast was carried out by the
British Navy. Captain Richards, on the HMS Plumper, assigned
many of the current place names at that time. Campbell River,
for example, was named for Captain Richards' staff surgeon,
Dr. Samuel Campbell.
The earliest loggers staked a townsite just north of Campbell
River, on the strength of a proposed trans-continental rail
line crossing Quadra Island and terminating at Bute Inlet,
Duluth, as the townsite was called, was foreseen as a great
centre of commerce.
But several successive railway proposals failed to materialize
leaving local developments to be slowly fostered on the
strength of the massive stands of timber.
Logging shows sprang up on the islands of Quadra and Read
in the late 1860's, where the timber could be easily taken
from the shoreline. As logging operations grew, large
camps were set up in the vicinity of Campbell River from
the 1880's onwards.
In a natural progression the loggers paved the way for
settlers who took up homesteads, initially along the deep
bays of Quadra Island. Gold mines, a cannery, sawmills
and a hotel helped to make Quadra Island a thriving community
prior to the turn of the century.
Settlers may have initially passed by Campbell River, but
world class sportsmen were quick to discover the massive
run of "Tyee" salmon up the Campbell. Local native
people, who guided the sportsmen in dugout canoes to catches
in excess of 40 lbs., still remember the early days when
it "seemed as though you could cross the Discovery Passage
on foot atop the teeming salmon".
Campbell River was to remain a quiet fishing and logging
community until the long foreseen hydro development of the
Elk Falls finally became a reality when the John Hart Dam
came into operation in 1948.
Crown Zellerbach, now Norske Canada, established Elk Falls
Pulp & Paper Mill in 1952 on the site of Michael King's
A population of 30,000 in the District of Campbell River
and a market population of over 60,000 make Campbell River
a major regional center.
Campbell River is a young city with an active population.
Based on the 2001 Census, a full 70% of Campbell River's
residents are between the ages of 15 and 64 providing a
potential labour force of over 19,000 people.