The First Nations used ocean going canoes to travel around the coast.  As European exploration and trading grew, ships became more frequent visitors to the settled coastal community.

Sailing ships were at the mercy of the winds and the waves. Many were pushed towards the rocky coastline and lost to the ocean during stormy weather. Many lives were lost in the area that became known as the Graveyard of the Pacific.

© Ucluelet and Area Historical Society

The first image above shows the Carelmapu sinking in 1915.  Five crew lives were lost in the tragedy.  The nearby SS Maquinna attempted a rescue which was ultimately unsuccessful.

The SS Maquinna was part of the Canadian Pacific Railway Coastal Steamship Service linking coastal communities to the rest of British Columbia.  The SS Maquinna is shown at Ucluelet’s Government Wharf in the second image above.

Road links to the rest of Vancouver Island were established in 1959 with a road that was constructed by linking rough logging road segments over the mountains to Port Alberni. 

The image below shows Frank Bull and Ron Matterson, who were part of the original road construction crew, at Kennedy Lake.

The road was upgraded and paved in sections in 1968 and 1972. Further upgrades to the Kennedy Lake section were started in 2018 and are still ongoing. The imposing cliff face that makes for a tight, twisty and narrow section of highway is being blasted so the road can be widened and moved away from the cliff edge.  A new viewing and rest area is also included as part of the project.

If you have a story to share about early transport links to Ucluelet and the west coast, please contact the Historical Society.