CASUAL COUNTRY 2019: Ocean Falls:where pristine wilderness abounds

Located west of Bella Coola, Ocean Falls is only accessible by boat or seaplane

Ocean Falls is a wildlife photographer’s paradise for year-round resident Rose Daykin.

“I have a black bear that walks by every day — she minds her own business and I mind mine,” Daykin said. “I’m an outdoors person and have three lakes to fish from. Often I’m the only person there and usually I catch my limit in about 30 minutes.

At first Ocean Falls was holiday destination.

“After my daughter died I needed a retreat place so mom and I bought a vacation home and a friend pitched in to help us. I lived her off and on and then moved here permanently.”

Houses are under $100,000, she has water and power and a great existence.

Year-round there the population fluctuates between 25 to 33 people, swelling to as many as 130 in the summer months with people coming from all over.

“We get lots of yachts from Washington State because the moorage is so cheap,” Daykin said.

There are no stores in the community, but a barge comes every two weeks with groceries from Save-on-Foods in Port Hardy, along with gasoline and propane.

Read more: 154 remote B.C. communities to get high-speed internet

She owns a 16-foot boat she can use to go to Bella Bella, which takes her about an hour.

“There are lots of vacation homes here, about 100 usable homes, even the old hospital was turned into an inn.”

Les Marston on owns the Old Bank Inn with his wife Tony Ziganash and their son Mark who presently lives in Venezuela.

Marston said it was a CIBC that was converted into a store for a period of time and then into a fishing lodge. It has gone through several owners since and they took soft possession in November 2017.

Echoing Daykin, he described Ocean Falls as magical.

“Everything around her is so pristine, so clear and so clean,” he said. “I’ve worked in the water quality business for 37 years and the water here is absolutely second to none.”

He first visited the area 23 years ago on the invitation of a friend who asked if he wanted to go fishing.

“I said sure, and this is where we came.”

Ocean Falls was a company town created in the 1900s when a pulp and paper company utilized large falls at the head of Cousins Inlet.

Marston said nobody lived in Ocean Falls that did not work for Crown Zellerbach.

Traditionally the area was used by the Kwakwa and Nuxalk and their seasonal village located at the base of the falls was called Liak, meaning falls.

At its peak there were about 5,000 people living there. The town had a hospital, schools and one of the province’s largest hotels and swimming pool.

It boasted the largest hotel north of San Francisco, California, at one point.

Marston said there is a Ocean Falls – Embers amongst the ashes Facebook Page that is reference when most of the town was intentionally burned down in the 1980s.

“As the government of the day, called it, they tried to naturalize it.”

Originally from Edmonton, Marston said it’s amazing how many people have come to Ocean Falls that he knew before he did and did not realize they were doing the same as him.

They also have The Little Licker Store which sells ice cream.

BC Ferries does stop in Ocean Falls as well as local seaplane companies that can connect with Pacific Coastal Airlines in Port Hardy.

Read more: Sailings filling up on Bella Coola’s Northern Sea Wolf

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A view of Cousins Inlet looking west down to King Island from Goat Mountain.

A rainbow spans over Cousins Inlet.

A resident harbour seal in the waters near Ocean Falls.

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