Inside Passage Ferry Trip to Visit Some of the Lighthouses

The idea for this story came from an article in the Vancouver Sun newspaper. I asked for permission to reprint it here for all to see, and they said I would have to pay them. This was an article about the Inside Passage ferry trip with mention of a couple of lighthouses – very few actually. I am not even going to mention the title of the story – how can they turn down free advertising.  😉

manned lighthouses

manned lighthouses

 When you visit Canada do you plan on seeing some lighthouses? We have twenty-seven (27) manned lighthouses on the west coast of British Columbia (BC); Canada. There are other unmanned lighthouses that are available for viewing also. You can see some of them if you wish with the BC Ferries, plus enjoy wonderful trips through BC waters.


The Inside Passage

Let us start with the longest trip first. How about fifteen (15) hours on a luxurious ferry in daylight so that you can make many photos. Fifteen hours may seem like a long time, but there is so much to see that time flies by, especially if the weather is fine.

Northern Expedition

Northern Expedition – BC Ferries photo


Northern Adventure

Northern Adventure – BC Ferries photo

There are two ferries on the route (2013) – the Northern Expedition and the Northern Adventure. You can actually follow them live on this website.

inside passage

inside passage


As these ferries leave from Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island, there are a few lighthouses further south but still on the Inside Passage that you will miss on this trip, but as you leave Port Hardy the first lighthouse you will see is Scarlett Point on the left hand (port) side and then Pine Island on the right (starboard) side (follow the map above).


Next comes Egg island on the starboard, probably hidden in the mists. Further north as the boat enters the inside waters and gets away from the rolling swells you will pass very near Addenbroke Island lighthouse on the starboard side of the pass.

automated lighthouses

automated lighthouses


About fifteen (15) miles south of the First Nations village of Bella Bella at the entrance to Lama Pass you will round a small island on the port side which houses a helicopter pad and a white automated tower. This was Pointer Island lighthouse but it was automated in 


As you leave the village of Bella Bella you will see Dryad Point lighthouse on the port side as you round the point and head out into the open waters leading to Milbanke Sound.  Just before entering the sound (notice the ship rolling!) on the starboard side you will see Ivory Island lighthouse high on the rock. If you have binoculars and the day is clear you may see the flash of my old lighthouse at McInnes island on the extreme left (port side) as you turn right (starboard) into Milbanke Sound. McInnes Island is located on the north side of the sound – almost on the horizon.

As you leave Milbanke sound you will make a port turn and see perched on a rocky bluff the lighthouse known as Boat Bluff. It is the most photographed light on the Inside Passage because of its proximity to the channel. This will be the last Canadian manned lighthouse you will see on this trip.

You will now spend a few hours traversing the calm inside waters. Enjoy!

As you leave the passage and approach the end of your journey you will see one last flash of light from a tower on the port side (left). Buried in the trees on this island is the now automated Lawyer Island lighthouse.

More trips will follow in later posts.


 The article below is very interesting. There are some lovely photos of the Inside Passage, including a couple of the lighthouses – Scarlett Point (named Songhees in the story) and Boat Bluff.

Yukon Ho – Inside Passage BC Ferry – Yukon and BC Mountain Biking Road Trip

Posted on August 22, 2013 by admin

from the Blog Sharon and Lee – Just another day

Since we were going the distance we decided to make this a road trip to remember by getting a taste of what BC and the Yukonhas to offer. The first stage is the drive up Vancouver Island to hop on a BC Ferry to experience the Inside Passage. No better way to see our coast line then on a 15 hour cruise along it. . . . more

[private] Sharon and Lee – Just another day

Yukon Ho – Inside Passage BC Ferry – Yukon and BC Mountain Biking Road Trip

Posted on August 22, 2013 by admin

Our 10,000km journey started with a desire to drive the Dempster Highway in the Yukon. We’d hiked the Tombstones so had a taste of the beauty of the Yukon vastness. What better way to feel that depth then with the freedom you have driving your own vehicle. We had bought a reliable truck, our Toyota Tacoma just for such journeys.

Since we were going the distance we decided to make this a road trip to remember by getting a taste of what BC and the Yukonhas to offer. The first stage is the drive up Vancouver Island to hop on a BC Ferry to experience the Inside Passage. No better way to see our coast line then on a 15 hour cruise along it. Once at Prince Rupert we headed North on the Stewart Cassiar Highway which ends at the Alaska Highway. The Stewart Cassiar was built in the 1960′s to open mining south of the Alaska Highway in BC. We then continued to Whitehorse where we overnighted.

The second stage continued once we were at Whitehorse. We headed north to the Dempster Highway, which was built in the 1958 to facilitate oil and gas exploration and to provide access to the 1st Nations community in Inuvik and in the winter, via ice highway to Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort Sea/Artic Ocean. We took our time exploring the Dempster by bike and by foot.

Our third stage took us on the Top of the World Highway which links Dawson City back to the Alaska Highway near Tok, Alaska. It is only open in the summer. From Tok we continued along the 1500 Mile Alaska Highway which was was built in 1942 by the Americans to open the North following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour. We turned off the Alaska Highway to Haines Junction, which is not just a stop but also a gateway to Kluane National Park. Haines Junction is also one leg of the Yukon’s Golden Circle Tour taking you from from Whitehorse to Haines Junction (where we start ) to Haines Alaska, where you hop on an Alaska Ferry to Skagway, then drive White Pass to Carcross and back to Whitehorse. We then stayed at Whitehorse for a few days where we did some mountain biking in Whitehorse and Carcross.

Our last stage was our drive home which took us along the Alaska Highway through the Northern BC Rockies, Liard Hotsprings, Fold Mountain and Stone Mountain Provincial park until we got to the flatlands of Fort Nelson. We detoured off the Alaska Highway, which ends in Dawson Creek, to visit the WAC Bennett Dam and the Peace River District. The final stretch was through Prince George and along Highway 1 back to Vancouver.

The Details:
Inside Passage Ferry and Intro || Stewart Cassiar Hwy to Dempster || Dempster – Day 1– Day 2 – Day 3 – Day 4 – Day 5 || Dawson to Kluane and the Golden Circle || Riding in Whitehorse and Carcross || Northern BC


Our trip starts with a Ferry trip from Vancouver to Vancouver Island on the newer Coastal Renaissance


Always an impressive boat ride, something new they have on the boats are their Coastal Naturalists who talk about the marine life in the area.


We drive up the Island, stopping in Courtenay for lunch and arrive in Port Hardy by late afternoon. We stayed at the Quarterdeck Inn which is one of the hotels close to the Ferry terminal.


We are up early to catch the Northern Expedition. This is one of two boats that travels the Inside Passage route.


Our little BC Ferries was enjoying the ride

Loading up


We opted for the Buffet Breakfast and Dinner for our trip. While they do have a cafeteria, having the buffet Breakfast and Dinner was quite a nice way to pass the time on this 15 hours voyage. The all you can eat food was more up Lee’s alley as well!


We also booked a reserved seat in the Aurora Lounge. This was the only view out the front of the ship. All other seating and viewpoints pointed out the back or sides. It was nice to have the reclining seats where you could leave your stuff for the duration of the trip and not worry about it. There was no Internet on the Ferry so most of our time was spent walking around, reading, napping and eating.


Snacks and lounging in the Aurora Lounge. Views weren’t bad either.


The weather was moody on our Voyage, more sunny then overcast so we had some pretty stellar views of the happenings that happen on the ocean. Graham Reach


Grenville Channel

Goletas and Gordon Channel from the ferry. Low lying fog. Songhees lighthouse from the fog


Floatplanes service communities and the lighthouse at Denny Island. Humpback whales provide entertainment


Pink salmon going crazy in Bella Bella. Local fishing dude. Farmed salmon right next to the wild salmon run


This Ferry trip took us into Bella Bella. It was pretty cool to see this small coastal town. Local industry


Boat Bluff lighthouse


Local artist drive-thru


Lee was still nursing his sore knee so the boat trip was also a good way for him to relax!


The sunset light show started as we entered Grenville Channel

More information can be found on the Inside Passage Trip HERE. [/private]

October  24, 2013

An email was passed to me written by Michael Olson. In the email he writes:

I grew up at gillnet camps on the BC north coast from the 1940’s to the 1960’s, when the Campbell family operated the Lawyer Island Light station and Holland Rock was the mid-point of the run between Prince Rupert Harbour and Humpback Bay.

In 2006, I created a website devoted to two of these former sites: Porcher Island cannery on the Skeena River and Wales Island cannery on the Nass River. The website may be viewed online at

More recently, I wrote an illustrated book that recounts two voyages that I made along the Inside Passage: The first to Wales Island cannery in the spring of 1947 on the Union Steamship Cardena, and the second on the BC Ferry Northern Adventure in the fall of 2010. The book, A Tale of Two Ships: The Inside Passage Then and Now is available as a free download from Apple or from Chapters, or from   in the format of your choice.

The short book is very good reading and describes more about the views that are and were visible on the Inside Passage. Fascinating reading to prospective travellers and those that have gone the route before.

October 28, 2013

A further email from Michael Olson said:

I remember Milbanke Sound well from the numerous trips that our family made to Wales Island cannery on the Union Steamship vessels, chiefly the Cardena and Catala, on the northern cannery run in those days.

I also read with interest your account of the sudden storm that struck the west coast in October 1984. A friend of mine, John Secord, was lost at sea as a result of the storm, and his deckhand also perished. Their fish-boat was the Silver Triton. I never served on a light station but we often visited the Campbell family when we lived at Humpback Bay on Porcher Island. It always seemed to me a romantic yet necessary occupation. It’s a shame that so many of the stations have been de-manned and automated over the years. I believe there is just a single beacon tower now standing on Lawyer Island where once the several red and white station buildings stood as signals to the passing ships. During my 2010 voyage on the Northern Adventure, I made a point of photographing the lights and beacons as they hove into view at regular intervals along the Inside Passage. They are quite simply an integral and historic part of the BC coastal experience.

I’m sure that many of the visitors to your website are familiar with the SS Cardena but, for those who are not and would like to learn more, I wrote the Wikipedia entry for the old ship:

Thanks Michael! 


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