Cape Mudge Lighthouse, Quadra Island, BC
Photo: Cape Mudge Lighthouse
Quadra Island, BC
Spirit of the West Adventures

Kayaking Desolation Sound

Quadra Island, British Columbia, Canada

History of Quadra Island

a turbulent past

Quadra Island History - A Turbulent Past

by Jeanette Taylor

Quadra Island’s history is packed with bold individuals, men and women who pitted their will against a place that lies within a dynamic point of change. It’s here the tides of south and north Vancouver Island meet, to blast through the narrow passages that separate Quadra from its neighbouring islands. The climate zone changes here too, with slightly colder temperatures emphasized by snowcapped mountains on two skylines. It’s also the borderland between two First Nations groups with entirely different linguistic roots, the Kwakwaka’wakw and the Coast Salish.

As a cultural frontier, the island’s earliest history is one of shifting territorial claims. British explorer Captain George Vancouver visited a large Salish village on the bluffs at Cape Mudge in July 1792. Several decades later the We-Wai-Kai, with roots to the north among the Kwakwaka’wakw, took over the island through a complex process of both warfare and intermarriage.

The late Harry Assu of Cape Mudge said his people moved here because they could catch all five species of salmon year around. Harry’s father Billy Assu was one of the most extraordinary men of his time and place, a natural leader with a powerful intellect. Under his direction, the We-Wai-Kai people navigated the sweeping changes that ensued with the arrival of the first loggers in the early 1880s. READ MORE >


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For other information about Quadra Island, Cortes Island and the Outer Discovery Islands and Inlets visit

Lucky Jim Mine, Granite Bay, Quadra Island, British Columbia, Canada
Kayak with Killer Whales
Discovery Islands Lodge sea kayaking tours and accommodation
Heriot Bay Inn, Quadra Island accommodation