Thompson Sound is located north of northeast Vancouver Island, off Knight Inlet, which cuts eighty miles through the remote Coast Range of Mountains.
The area is a true west coast adventure, with great towering mountains rising straight out of the sea, cascading waterfalls and waterslides, and a history rich in native culture. To the west of this vast wilderness area is Kingcome Inlet, Tribune Channel, Bond Sound, Fife Sound, and numerous other sounds and channels. Islands in the region include Gilford, Village, Turnour, Minstrel and Cracroft Islands.
Formerly known as the Kwakiutl, the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations have lived here for thousands of years, a region with a history rich in native culture and heritage. Pictographs, burial sites, and shell middens on Harbledown, Village and Turnout Islands, to name only a few sites, offer a fascinating glimpse into Kwakwaka’wakw and Coast Salish culture and history.
Covering the central and north coast of British Columbia, from Knight Inlet to the Alaskan border, the Great Bear Rainforest contains the largest tract of contiguous ancient temperate rainforest left on Earth. This temperate rainforest supports Canada’s largest grizzly bears, the rare white spirit bear and thousands of genetically unique races of Pacific salmon.
This wilderness region is prime black bear and grizzly bear habitat, bald eagles, orcas and other wildlife is abundant, fishing is superb, and the river system supports a phenomenal fall salmon run. Needless to say, the opportunities for nature photography in Knight Inlet are superb.
Location: Accessible only by boat or float plane, the mostly uninhabited Thompson Sound is located off Knight Inlet, due north of Johnstone Strait and the small communities of Telegraph Cove and Sayward / Kelsey Bay on Vancouver Island. Travel to Thompson Sound by boat from Port McNeill, or a 45-minute floatplane flight from Campbell River over the islands dotting scenic Johnstone Strait. Campbell River on Vancouver Island is accessible from the Vancouver and Victoria International Airports.
Fishing: The Kakweiken River, which flows into Thompson Sound, provides excellent freshwater fishing for Steelhead, Dolly Varden, Cutthroat Trout, and Pacific Salmon; Tyee, Coho, Pink, and Chum Salmon.
Heartbreak Falls is a tributary of the Kakweekan River named by a local trapper after his wife had deserted him. The beautiful falls provide a good day trip from Thompson Sound.
Grizzly Bears around Thompson Sound and Knight Inlet emerge from hibernation in spring (starting in April) to feed on the succulent new spring growth. Viewing peaks during fall (late August) when the salmon are running, as grizzlies converge on the salmon spawning streams to feed on the salmon and stock their fat reserves in preparation for winter ahead.
Wildlife: Other wildlife that can be viewed in and around Thompson Sound include black bears, cougars, wolves and deer on land, and killer whales (orcas), minke whales, humpback whales, seals, and dolphins in local waters. Bald eagles are common in the skies.
A popular destination for kayakers near the mouth of Knight Inlet is the Kwakwaka’waka village of Mamalilaculla, on Village Island in the Broughton Archipelago. Now abandoned, the native village is a fascinating site, evidencing traditional cedar house posts of the Kwakwaka’waka period and later post-European dwellings.
Potlaches: When the dominion government and missionaries conspired to outlaw the potlatch in 1884, masks, drums, carvings, coppers and other potlatch articles were confiscated and removed to museums in central Canada. Village Island was the scene of one such raid in 1921. Since returned, these magnificent symbols of Kwakwaka’waka heritage and culture are now on display at the Nuyumbalees Cultural Center (formerly Kwagiulth Museum) on Quadra Island, the U’mista Cultural Center in Alert Bay, and the Campbell River Museum.
The western end of Knight Inlet is a part of the Broughton Archipelago Marine Provincial Park, a wilderness area consisting of a maze of several small islands, numerous inlets and adjacent foreshore at the southern extremity of Queen Charlotte Strait, off the west coast of Gilford Island. The islands in the marine park are undeveloped and are largely undiscovered. Facilities are limited to a day-use recreation. The numerous remote, solitary islands incorporated in the park provide unlimited and unique fishing and swimming opportunities, and are fabulous for exploring by kayak.
South of Thompson Sound is Knight Inlet, which cuts eighty miles through the remote Coast Range of Mountains to the head of Knight Inlet, and Mt. Waddington, the highest mountain located totally within British Columbia.
North of Thompson Sound is historical Kingcome Inlet, an isolated fjord set against the breathtaking backdrop of great towering mountains, carved into the Coast Mountain Range of mainland British Columbia by the glaciers of the last ice age.