Coal Harbour is a community located on the north side of Holberg Inlet in Quatsino Sound, about 220 miles (355 km) northwest of the city of Vancouver and 11 miles (18 km) southwest of Port Hardy, British Columbia. Quatsino Sound is the northernmost of five sounds on the west coast of Vancouver Island and contains numerous coastal inlets, bays, and islands.
Coal Harbour was named after a small and unsuccessful local coal mine that was founded in 1883. The townsite and surrounding area was the site of a Royal Canadian Air Force base for seaplane patrols in the North Pacific during World War II. Many of the original buildings still remain, such as the general store and the officers barracks immediately overlooking the harbour.
After the war, the buildings were bought by British Columbia Packers and whaling operations began. Whales were harpooned by a fleet of up to 5 small “chaser” boats with harpoon guns. Whales were brought up by steam windlass on the main slipway formerly used by seaplanes. The whalers caught mostly sei (2,153), sperm (1,108), and fin (837) whales. The plant was powered by two World War II U.S. destroyer steam engines. Canada Packers took over the facility in 1967 and it was sold for scrap, the last whaling station in British Columbia to close. See a short video about shore whaling in the early 1900s here. Read more here and here. Explore more of Coal Harbour here: