“BC’s Salt Water Main Street”
....There are some pretty busy and scenic highways in this forest around us that is called British Columbia. And those highways are always a reminder to us of the importance of our number one industry – our forests – because no matter where you go, you will find logging trucks or lumber trucks plying their way back and forth with the products of our forests.
....Nowhere, though, in all B.C., is there a busier highway for the forest industry than the coastal water route from Vancouver to Prince Rupert. I call it the Salt Water Main Street of our province. For no matter when – day or night, storm or sunshine – the continuous parade of tugboats, log barges, freighters and scows are on steady patrol, moving the forest products from one point to another.
....It’s a fascinating highway, this Salt Water Main Street. It has a colorful his-tory, for it has carried Russian, Spanish, and English explorers, to say nothing of the countless great war canoes of our early native Indian warriors. Our coast line, made up as it is of a continuous protective barrier of islands, has allowed any and all types of ships to move back and forth in the relative safety of protected waters.
....Starting from Vancouver going north, the 300-mile-long Vancouver island provides a giant breakwater to the storms of the Pacific area from the
end of Vancouver island to the protection of Calvert Island is a rugged 40-mile stretch of water known as Queen Charlotte Sound, and coastal people have long come to respect the storms of this open water.
....Up Fitz Hugh Sound, past Bella Bella, winding again in the lee of pro-tective islands, the ships take to Finlayson Channel and the beautiful walled-in waterways of the Fraser Reach and Granville Channel. This brings us to Prince Rupert, a distance of about 500 miles from Vancouver.
....Yet the Salt Water Main Street is not ended, for there are thousands of miles of protected inland inlets and channels, leading in some cases to towns like Kitimat or Bella Coola and in others to a lonesome logging camp or more often to an empty but beautiful inlet’s end.
....To the fishermen or tugboat men who travel these waters constantly the Salt Water Main Street may be taken for granted, an avenue of water that, while protected, can still hold the perils of sudden storms, fog and rocks.
....But to the traveler, here must lie some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. I have sat on a beach of the steep walled Fraser Reach – a 30-mile-long, narrow, straight-arrowed waterway, and been amazed at the numbers and sizes and shapes of the sea going vessels that passed by – so
close it seemed that you could reach out and touch them.
....Big tugs towing construction equip-ment on flat scows, log barges with loads of two or more million board feet of well placed logs, freighters loaded down to the guide signs with cargo for the hungry northern settlements, fish-packers high and empty going, and fish-packers low free board and full, heading for market.
....Surely these waterways below Prince Rupert must equal or better the famed fiords of Norway. Yet they are nearly barren of housing. A very few small logging camps and a fishing village or two like Butedale and Klemtu. Here in the Fraser Reach is to be found the old pulp mill town of Swanson Bay. This mill was one of the first built in B.C. and has lain in ruins since 1924. Alder and salal brush and salmonberry bush have pushed through the old mill and homes and it now has nearly reverted back to nature. It is eerie standing there thinking of other days and the people who live there.
....Fly in a small float plane over Port Hardy, Port McNeil and Beaver Cove on the Queen Charlotte Straight, and in looking down on this part of the Salt Water Main Street you will notice the millions of board feet of boomed-up logs. Small tugs shuttle about the booming grounds, securing booms in readiness for their final tow to the mills
British Columbia Lumberman, April, 1971

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at the lower end of Main Street — in Vancouver or Powell River or Nanaimo.
....We fly down this waterway, down Johnston Strait and I‘m reminded of old Union Steamships — the Venture, Cattalla, and Cardena — they used to transport loggers to and from the logging camps up and down the coast. Ripple Rock in the Seymour narrows ripped the bottom out of many ships before it was blasted out of the sea a dozen years ago.
....And I remember how the good old Venture used to slow down and wait for the tide in those narrows. The loggers on board were patient man. They had to be.
....It is interesting, too, to see the very sleek new cruise ships that now carry passengers from all over the world, up and down the Salt Water Main Street. From our own Queen of Prince Rupert to the brightly colored American ships, these vessels must certainly give their well-looked-after passengers some won-derful memories. The CN ship the Henry makes regular stops at Alert Bay and the native Indians delight the cruise people with full dress native dances. It’s some-thing to watch the traffic on the waters of the Strait of Georgia. Sawdust and chip barges are forever moving from one mill to another to take full use of every-thing in the tree except the smell. Not long ago the same chips were burned up, but now with close utilization and good transportation they become valuable
cargo. Leisure boats, tiny fish boats, speed boats, ships of the oceans — all these vessels are constantly on the move in this southern part of the waterway.
....One of the most scenic of all the inlets off the Salt Water Main Street is Knight Inlet, about a third of the way up from Vancouver. This 60-mile-long stretch of blue green water gives the traveller a real feeling of the power of silence and mountain beauty as you cruise its length. From sea level the land rises to as much as 10,000 feet into year- round snow-capped peaks.
I am sure one day this great inlet will play host to many beautiful resorts. And speaking of resorts, at the mouth of Knight, right on Main Street, sits one of the famous watering holes of the old time loggers — Minstrel Island — and its famed beer parlor.
....Now there was a logger’s paradise! Just a floating dock, a wharf, and the Minstrel Island Hotel and beer parlor. In the area’s logging heyday, about 1952, no less than 56 logging camps received their waterways freight at Minstrel Harbour. Saturday night at the beer parlor was like New Year’s Eve on Times Square. It sold the second largest consumption of bottled beer in BC.
....The place still remains for the few travelers, fisherman or loggers who pass by. No two tables or chairs are the same. And a memory that may yet rise again when the second growth forests are ready for harvest.

....You can have your Granville Streets, your Hope-Princeton high-ways and your PGE railroad. In their own way they all contribute their parts to the economy of this forested province. But my choice for BC’s number one logging road is the Salt Water Main Street from Vancouver to Prince Rupert.
....History and colour it has, for can’t you visualize those great Haida Indian war canoes prowling the waterways of old? Or the first sail ships and the early explorers gazing with wonder as they sailed through the islands of Johnston Strait? Or remember the very early loggers of these waters in their small steam boats searching for trees to hand log along the shores? Or even a later date when the huge cigar shaped Davis rafts were towed out of the Charlottes to the mill’s of Vancouver?
....For those who live by or from this great waterway, remember that you are still pioneers to the future thousands who will continually come to look or live by this water highway.
....To those of you who might read this but have not yet seen this Main Street, do yourself a favor and see it, for you will never forget it. The Salt Water Main Street is a highway of beauty and dollars in the forest around us.

........Keep out of the bight,