Queen Charlotte City
Known to the locals simply as “Charlotte,” Queen Charlotte City is spread along the shores of Bearskin Bay, five kilometers (3.1 miles) west of the dock for the mainland ferry. It’s not really a city at all—most places that include “city” in their name aren’t—but instead a small laid-back fishing village of 950 people.
Heritage buildings dating back to the early 1900s (most along the main road) are interspersed with all the services of a small town, with a colorful array of private residences sprawled east and west, overlooking the water and backed by forested wilderness. With a choice of accommodations, it’s a good base for exploring the islands.
Down on the waterfront, Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre (3220 Wharf St., 250/559-8316, www.qcinfo.ca, daily 10 a.m.–7 p.m. mid-May–mid-Sept.) offers natural history displays, a wide variety of brochures and information on everything that’s going on around the islands, and current weather forecasts.
Accommodations and Camping
Built in 1910, the old Premier Hotel has been totally renovated and now operates as Premier Creek Lodging (3rd Ave., 250/559-8415 or 888/322-3388, $35–95 s, $75–95 d), offering beds to suit all budgets. In the main lodge, single “sleeping rooms” with shared facilities cost $35 per person, but definitely worth the extra money are the rooms with private bathrooms, balconies, and harbor views (some with kitchens).
Behind the main lodge is the simple Premier Creek Hostel (same telephone numbers as the lodge, dorm beds $25). It has two four-bed dorms and one double room, a kitchen, living room, laundry, gas barbecue, and bike rentals.
The least expensive rooms at Dorothy and Mike’s Guest House (3127 2nd Ave., 250/559-8439, $70–125 s or d) share baths, but my favorite is the Kumdis Room, with an en suite bathroom, and a sliding door opens to a private deck with fantastic views. Common areas include a kitchen, TV room, a large deck area, and a library overflowing with island literature. A hearty cooked breakfast will get you going each morning.
Moonglow Guest House (3611 Highway 33, 250/559-8831, $65 s, $75 d) has just one guest room, but it’s a good one, with cooking facilities, a patio with views of Skidegate Inlet, and a private entrance. Behind the property, a trail leads along a creek to a waterfall.
Spruce Point Lodging (609 6th Ave., 250/559-8234, $70 s, $80 d) has a great downtown location with superb water views and offers bed-and-breakfast lodging in simple but comfortable rooms, each with a color TV.
Haydn Turner Park (Apr.–Oct., $12), through town to the west, has toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings for campers, but no showers or hookups.
The place to go for breakfast is Lam’s (3223 Wharf St., 250/559-4204, Mon.–Sat. 6:30 a.m.–3 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–3 p.m., lunches $7–11). All the locals congregate here. In addition to water views, this place has plenty of atmosphere, and the food is good and plentiful for the price (cooked breakfasts from $7), but be prepared to wait for a table.
For something more substantial, head to the Sea Raven Motel (3301 3rd Ave., 250/559-4423, daily 7 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–9 p.m., daily for lunch and dinner, $9.50–17).
Howler’s Pub and Bistro (3rd Ave., 250/559-8602, 11 a.m.–10 p.m., $8–21) has a downstairs pub and upstairs dining room. Menus in both are pub-like, but with a surprising number of vegetarian choices and a good selection of desserts.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition