Catch up on our Canada reader event: The British Columbia Effect

Missed our British Columbia event? Then catch up here with a full recording and questions answered by the experts.

3 mins

We had the absolute pleasure to be joined by two Canada experts for a live talk all about British Columbia's rich culture, history and nature. Mike Willie, owner of Sea Wolf Adventures and a proud member of the  Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis people kicked things off with a fascinating insight into the history and importance of the land, his experiences growing up and what makes British Columbia so special to him. Next to take the stage was Rosslyn Wilks, a passionate Canada Specialist from Audley who gave us heaps of inspiration and top tips for a wild escape to this incredible part of Canada. 

If you missed the event or had to leave early, then don't panic. We have the full recording of the evening plus questions answered by the experts right here.

Watch the full webinar 

Your questions answered

When is a good time to see wildlife?
The winter is trickier for wildlife so you are better off sticking to May to October time for the best wildlife viewing. You do still have a chance of seeing bears and wildlife outside of these months, but the bears are a bit lazier at this time of year so are less prominent. September is good as the bears will be out stocking up on food. Equally, June is a good time to see them as the bears are coming out of hibernation and often have their cubs with them.

As for whales, there are opportunities to see these all year-round at different parts of the island. But certainly September in the north is known as a better time to see them, and October too. But realistically, if you went between June and August you would still have fantastic opportunity to see them, depending where on the island you go.

What wildlife are you likely to see in late July/ early August?
In late July/ early August you'll have some good sightings of whales. You will be able to see bears from Tofino and the Great Bear Rainforest, although they do tend to be a bit lazier in the hotter months. You can also see beavers (even in Stanley Park!) and otters, too.

When is the best time of year to see humpback whales? 
June to late October is a good time to see humpback whales.

How would you recommend for seeing whales?
You can do trips from Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, Campbell River and Port McNeill. Mike organises whale trips at Sea Wolf Adventures and Eagle Wings in Victoria are excellent too. You can book whale tours through Audley. 

Is there a time of year you'd recommend for viewing the coastal wolves?
A good time to see wolves is between May and September. It’s a 50/50 chance but a lot of fun and the scenery is beautiful. 

Where can you see sea otters?
Sea Otters are west of Port Hardy and you can see them on a zodiac ride. Have a look at this tour which is bookable through Audley. 

Where is a great place to get off the beaten track in British Columbia? 
Port Hardy is a fantastic place to get off the beaten track to enjoy wildlife and also the First Nations culture.

Where else further north of Tofino would you recommend travelling to with a car?
I would suggest heading to places such as Campbell River, Telegraph Cove and Port Hardy. There’s also the small community of Quadra Island which you can take a ferry across to from Campbell River. They’re all off the beaten track locations where you can see rugged beaches and First Nations culture, and they provide a great gateway to wildlife.

What cultural centres would you recommend to learn about First Nation culture?
The U’mista Cultural Centre is world class! Also if you are in Vancouver then check out the Museum of Anthropology. You can also visit Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Museum in Whistler, the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre in Quada Island and Musqueam Cultural Centre in Vancouver

How easy is it to island hop?
There are regular ferry services connecting all the islands operated by BC Ferries – It is always worth checking times as they tend to go every few hours rather than more regularly, however, with a little bit of pre planning it’s very straightforward to hop between the various islands.

Are there any Covid entry restrictions for UK travellers to Canada? 
Currently if you are fully vaccinated you can travel to Canada without showing a test. There is randomly selected testing in place at the airport on arrival. You will need to download the CANapp and fill it in 72 hours before travel. 


What did the experts recommend? 

Rosslyn Wilks: The Sunshine Coast is an incredible drive just north of Vancouver Island running from Langdale to Saltery Bay. There’s beautiful views of the ocean and mountains and stunning beaches you can explore.

Mike Willie:  Sea Wolf Adventures has teamed up with Coastal Rainforest Safaris to offer a true Northern Vancouver Island getaway experience. The Whales, Otters, and Grizzly Bears package which is bookable through Audley combines a six hour Sea Otter Viewing and Whale Watching tour from Port Hardy with Coastal Rainforest Safaris, a day of grizzly bear viewing from Port McNeill with Sea Wolf Adventures, and two nights accommodation at the Quarterdeck Inn in Port Hardy. 

Recommended lodges

Farewell Harbour: (availability at the very beginning of October)
A floating lodge found on Berry Island on the edge of the Great Bear Rainforest, Farewell Harbour is a small locally run wilderness lodge that is one of our favourites options. The guides all know the area incredibly well and have become so immersed in the lives of the bears that they know exactly the best places to go and have unique sightings. Unlike other lodges, Farewell Harbour veers towards nature walks and boat rides to view wildlife rather than having fixed platforms which means you get to see much more of the area. They will generally mix your time between bear watching and whale watching but will cater to suit your interests – They also do First Nations guided hikes, forest bathing and kayaking. The accommodation is simple but each room has views of the sea and all meals are delicious.

Tweedsmuir Park Lodge: (availability on selected dates in September and October)
Situated in the heart of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, this lodge is off the island and situated in the mountains north of Vancouver. The lodge consists of a series of beautifully cosy cabins in the middle of the park itself so you often will see bears roaming past at leisure before you’ve even gone on a nature walk! Tweedsmuir splits your time between boat trips up the river and hidden platforms through the wilderness to look for bears. The scenery is incredible and again Tweedsmuir can cater other activities to suit such as fishing, First Nation walks, bike tours, etc. All meals are included and Tweedsmuir has a particularly high standard of dining where you can either dine alone or as part of the group

Knight Inlet Lodge: 
One of the first lodges to be set up in the region, Knight Inlet is a floating lodge set off the coast of Campbell River that offers platform viewing in the heart of the Great Bear rainforest. You will take a float plane over to the lodge and enjoy the rustic accommodation and hospitality. You will be taken each day by boat to the forest where you will then spend time on the platforms watching the bears roam in the surrounding area. Like the other lodges other activities are available such as nature walks, First Nation activities, etc. For Knight Inlet you must spend your first night at a hotel in Campbell River and you will then be collected from the hotel and taken by float plane across to the lodge.

What did you have to say? 

Absolutely fascinating, thank you. 

So fascinating, I could have listened for hours.

Thank you for sharing those gorgeous photos of the wildlife and fascinating history!

Brilliant presentation. Definitely one to add to the bucket list. Thank you so much.

Really interesting history from Mike. We visited a few years ago and next time will make sure we meet! 

Thank you, would love to visit.

Very interesting, especially on the culture side, still so much to learn, thank you all!

Thanks for information very informative and helpful. 

Thank you so much. Really interesting, we visited for our honeymoon, I need to go back!

Thank you all. Great presentation. So informative. Brilliant!


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