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Cortez Island, BC – The Ultimate Canada Day Experience!

Man and little boy walking out on a wharf

Desolation Sound

Trip Start: Car packed. Rooftop carrier on. Bike on the back. Toddler strapped in. Windows down… here we go! Heading out for a week’s family vacation ready to camp in a beautiful and laid back location in Desolation Sound… Cortez Island.

Cortez Island is accessed by taking a ferry from Campbell River to Quadra Island, then a second ferry from Quadra to Cortez. The double ferry crossing forces you to leave all your worries behind, giving you time to breathe in the salty air and settle in to ‘Island Time’. And with a 2 year old on the trip, even the smallest details (like flags on top of the ferries) can be a big highlight of the day!

It was on the ferry over to Quadra Island that we struck up a conversation with walk-on passengers adorned in Canada Day red…. “you should check out the Canada Day celebrations at Cape Mudge – there is a big celebration today and feast including about 15 tribal journey First Nation canoes stopping in on their way to Bella Coola”…

Lady standing beside totem pole

Totem Pole!

Needless to say we took a detour from our planned itinerary and made our way to Cape Mudge to take part in a great community breakfast hosted by the Quadra Island Fire Department, a tour of the Nuyumbaleess Cultural Centre, a fire-cooked salmon dinner with ‘pullers’ (paddlers), and conversations with locals and tourists from Sweden. Our short trip on the ferry to Quadra had turned into the ultimate Canada Day experience!

Man reading a book in hammock

Chillax Time!

Our final destination was eight nights at Smelt Bay Provincial Park on Cortez Island. We’ve found that setting up and staying in one spot for a week is a great way to relax, especially with a toddler! Plus, this also allows plenty of time to explore the beautiful beaches, cute museum and local swim spots at Manson’s Lagoon and Hague Lake.

Our lesson from this camping experience… Have a plan to get away… but also talk to others along the way… you may just have the ultimate Canada Day experience!

Written by: Kym Thrift

Published: October 27, 2014
Last Updated: June 10, 2019

BC Camping Story Contest Entry by BC Camping Story Contest Entry

This post as been submitted voluntarily by the above author as an entry to the Camping and RV BC Coalition " BC Camping Story Contest".