Telegraph Cove History

1968 aerial view

Telegraph cove 1979 panorama

Telegraph Cove got its name from Alfred Marmaduke "Duke" Wastell when, in 1912, the Superintendent of Telegraphs was looking for a suitable location for a lineman's station. Wastell suggested the protected little harbour and referred to it as Telegraph Cove. Telegraph lineman Bobby Cullerne became the Cove's first inhabitant, living in a one-room shed-roofed structure that is still there.

With his wife and nine-year-old son Fred, Duke arrived in nearby Alert Bay from Ontario in 1909 to manage BC Fishing and Packing Company's box factory. In the mid-1920's, Duke and a group of Japanese workers built a salmon saltery and small sawmill at Telegraph Cove. In 1929, the owner of 400 acres surrounding the Cove defaulted on loans received from Duke, and signed over the chunk of wilderness to him in payment.

Duke's son Fred needed something to do after the Great Depression. Now married and the father of a baby girl, Fred had a financial interest in the sawmill at Telegraph Cove that had lain idle for two years. In the early 1930's he resurrected the mill with his childhood friend, Alex MacDonald undertaking the financial end. With the help of Japanese and Chinese labor, the early 1930's saw Telegraph Cove Mills up and running in earnest. Logs milled at Telegraph Cove were used to construct buildings throughout the North Island. Today visitors to our facilities can enjoy the stunning vistas from the highest point a short walk away -- MacDonald Mountain.

Fred, his wife Emma, and their two daughters Bea and Pat, lived many years in the protected little hamlet of boardwalks and wooden buildings built on pilings near the rugged seacoast, where boats were their only means of transportation. It was not until 1956 that Fred Wastell finally pushed a road through, from Telegraph Cove to the outside world.

The 1970's saw the end of an era as the lumber mill, salmon saltery, and fish storage warehouses gradually yielded to pleasure boaters, kayakers, sport fishermen, whale watchers and vacationers. Today, Telegraph Cove has grown to become one of the ten "best towns in Canada to visit" (as published in Harrowsmith magazine), and for good reason.

Telegraph Cove is a key access point to the huge marine park known as the Broughton Archipelago; the famous orca rubbing beaches of Robson Bight; and the inside passage marine route known as Johnstone Strait. Famed Sea Explorer Jacques Cousteau remarked that it is one of the best places in the world to view and enjoy killer whales in their natural environment. June 2002 saw the arrival of Springer, the orca whale from A-pod that had been abandoned at the Vashon Island Washington ferry dock. A remarkable US/Canada cooperative effort brought Springer back to native waters to reunite with her pod.

Today, Dockside 29 enjoys the site of the former sawmill. The sawmill's old jackladder support remains today as a small part of Dockside 29's substantial support structure.

We sincerely hope your stay at Telegraph Cove will be as richly rewarding as its history has been for those who have come and gone.