The Broughtons

Simoon Sound

Thursday, July 15, 2010S.V. CAMBRIA

A fish farm in Simoon Sound.

Attracted to the history of the area, we made Simoon Sound our next destination.

In the summer of 1792 Captain George Vancouver, who was sent to the Pacific Northwest to conduct a detailed survey of the coastal mainland from Juan de Fuca Strait to Cook Inlet in Alaska, anchored the Chatham and Discovery in Simoon while survey parties set out in open boats to examine the continental shoreline. Over the course of three summers (1792 to 1794), he and his crew completed one of the most demanding surveys ever undertaken of this highly intricate coastline. The charts produced by Vancouver and his officers were, at the time, unparallelled in detail and accuracy, and the basis for today's charts of coastal British Columbia and Alaska. As we motor through the labyrinth of islands and islets called The Broughtons, it's easy to be awed by the magnitude of the task.

More than 100 years later, Simoon Sound was home to a major logging camp which evolved into a floating village complete with a store, community hall, post office and school. A large empty float served as a tennis court and baseball diamond – the terrain being too steep to accommodate one on land. According to some reports, the general store seconded as a casino and saloon. It's not hard to believe. Both prostitution and gambling played an important role in the early 1900's logging industry – entertainment. In 1936, the entire village was moved to Little Simoon Sound; I'm not sure why but, in all likelihood, they'd finished logging the region.

Today it's home to aquaculture: a point of contention with locals. Penned up, the farmed salmon can't get rid of sea lice which escape the farms and attach themselves to spry (young salmon) as they swim past. The spry haven't formed scales yet, and the lice kill them depleting the number of wild salmon, yet the government continues to issue leases to Norwegian companies to set up and run what has essentially become stockyards for salmon.

But years of logging have taken a toll on Simoon Sound, like so many other places in The Broughtons, and, aside from the stunning view as you enter its waters, it now holds very little appeal – history or not.

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