Coal Harbor is located on the Holberg
Inlet, just a short drive on a paved road from Port Hardy.
Coal Harbor was a coal mining town, then a military base during the second world
war, a whaling station, then back to mining, only this time copper, now this
community is a jumping off point for Quatsino sound and all the wonders of the
On any given day, you can see plenty of fish boats coming and leaving the
harbor. This a great place to put in your kayaks or canoes to head out on a sea
adventure, Quatsino sound offers so much for eco tourist, magical and
hidden bays, great wildlife viewing, incredible bird life and very untouched
wilderness. You can visit the village and wander around for the whole day, just enjoying
yourself, you can take to the beach at low tide and look for wildlife or hike
one of the many trails in the area.
The name Coal Harbor tells you about how
this village got started. Coal brought the Northwest Coal Company to the shores
of Stephens Bay in 1883. Coal seams seemed very promising but the coal proved to
be poor quality and the mine died out in the early years of the 1900's, by 1907 there
was only a caretaker left to watch the mine.There are rumors about this
caretaker that still are talked about to this day, this fellows name was John
Sharp....or was it They say he was really a member of the Jesse James Gang,
hiding out in Coal Harbor. In 1907, two strangers came to town and murdered John
Coal Harbor played a role in coastal defense during the Second World War. The
R.C.A.F had a seaplane base and reconnaissance station built in 1940 and it was in
operation until just after the war ended in 1945, there were over 250 personnel
stationed in the community. The base used long range flying boats to patrol up
and down the coast. When the war ended in 1945, the base closed, leaving behind
empty buildings and quiet streets.
In front of the Moby Dick Store you will see the jawbones of a blue whale, this
is the largest of the whale family. The bones are a reminder of this community's
whaling past. From 1947 to 1967, Coal Harbor was the site of a commercial
whaling community, closing by 1967. Today, the whales are again bringing in much
needed money into the economies of the north island, this time as objects to be
photograhed during whale watching tours. Tours head out from all areas of the
Island and the whales are back in big numbers now.
Mining once again was a major player in the
history of Coal Harbor, this time it was copper that was being mined. In 1970,
miners began seeking copper. The Island Copper Mine brought even more men
to the community, and mining, in what would eventually be the deepest open pit
mine in the world. The opening of the mine resulted in the paving of the road
from Port Hardy and the expansion of the town to its present day state. The mine
pit has been reclaimed and is now filled with water.
Though mining and whaling no longer happen
here, Coal Harbor is still a sustaining community of about 175 people. Logging
still happens here and opportunities for outdoor recreation including guided
fishing, kayak trips, and wildlife viewing. Coal Harbor is accessible from Port
Hardy on the coal harbor road, this road is now paved.