Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve
and Haida Heritage Site occupies 1470 square km
or about 15% of The Queen Charlotte Islands. Located
about 100 kilometres off the British Columbia
mainland it includes 138 islands,
stretching from Tasu Sound south to Cape St. James.
The area was declared a provincial park in 1958
and added to the national park system in 1988.
The Haida are the ancient inhabitants
of these islands, with an oral history that recounts
legends of the arrival of the first pine tree.
Archaeologists are discovering the truth of these
stories through research into campsites that have
level changes greater than anywhere else on
The village of Ninstints
is a hauntingly beautiful group of totem poles,
poignant memorial to the richness of Haida culture.
Haida Gwaii Watchmen preside over many of the
old village sites, including Hotspring
Island, a favourite stop for kayakers.
The wealth of the marine environment
is graphically illustrated at Burnaby
Narrows, said to contain more protein per
square metre than any other place on earth.
The Queen Charlottes are often
called the Canadian Galapagos because
of the number of endemic
species that have evolved here, distinct from
their mainland relatives. The archipelago is also
influenced by introduced
species which are changing the vegetative
and animal profile of the islands.