We're Hiring!




 Curatorial and Programming Assistant at Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum

Job Description:
The Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum is seeking a student interested in regional heritage. Our community-oriented museum is a compact institution, requiring flexibility of skills and adeptness of task management.

The student will be primarily working at the “front desk”, being the first point of interaction with a high volume of visitors and locals alike. The student will be mentored through a research project task with an end product of a mobile exhibition. They will also be trained to deliver walking tours of 30 minutes to 1hr throughout the town of Tofino. Tours will be delivered on Saturdays from June to August. Mentorship in proper handling practices and archival procedures will be ongoing as the student assists with collections and records management.

Salary: $15/hr

Ideal candidate will:

  • have an interest in Vancouver Island history, esp. Nuu-chah-nulth history
  • be fluent in English
  • have flexible communication skills
  • be comfortable working independently
  • be familiar with collections and records experience (an asset)
  • be familiar and comfortable with primary and secondary research
  • have exceptional organizational skills
  • excel at time management

Application Deadline:
Job Start Date: 2018 – 05-07
Job End Date: 2018 - 08 - 25

Please send cover letter and resume to:
Ava Hansen
Operations Manager
Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum
PO Box 429
Tofino, BC
V0R 2Z0

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.*
*In e-mail add subject line "Summer Job 2018_YOURNAME"


People of the Sound - Ellen Curley and Annie Atlieu

In the early 1900s, Ellen Curely and Annie Atlieu were asked by Charles F. Newcomb (who worked for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago) if they would each weave a hat for an exhibit. Atlieu and Curely are well remembered for her skill in weaving.

Work's like this hat,  at the Field Museum in Chicago, may have been created by Atlieu or Curley. Both women traveled to the World's Fair in St. Louis Missouri in 1904 and demonstrated weaving there. 

The Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum would like to extend the invitation to you to relate anything you know about these women, helping to share their stories more broadly.


Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or drop by the museum betwee 12:30-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

We'd love to see your photos, hear your stories, or to help with any historical research projects you may be working on.

Part of Our Past - Commercial Whaling

There is a long history of whaling on the west coast of Vancouver Island. For hundreds if not thousands of years people of the Nuučaanuł nations held the reputation of being extraordinary whalers. Their whale hunting practices were hinged on respect for the animals and, alongside a strict quota system, contributed to the endurance of the traditional whale hunt and preservation of the whale populations.

Records site commercial whaling in the Pacific Northwest to have begun in the 1830s. Whaling vessels captained by American sailors voyaged up and down the Pacific Northwest Coast on the hunt. However, it was not until 1869 that the first whaling station was established just off Vancouver Island, on Cortes Island. This station at Whaletown was the first of the Dawson and Douglas Whaling Company stations established by Captain James Dawson and Captain Abel Douglas. Their second station was at Whaling Station Bay on Hornby Island.

In 1904, competition arose for Dawson and Douglas when Captain Sprott Balcom and Captain William Grant started the Pacific Whaling Company. They focused on the outer waters of Vancouver Island, rather than the “inside waters” of the Strait of Georgia. The type of boats they used were steam-powered chaser boats. Rather than hand-vaulted harpoons, the steamers deployed harpoons with cannons.

In 1905, Balcom and Grant’s first station was operating out of Sechart, Barkley Sound. In its first year, the station exported 100 tons of fertilizer and 300 tons of whale oil. Two years later they established a location at Cachalot in Kuyuquot Sound. They also had a station at Page’s Lagoon, near Nanaimo, which shut down in 1908.

Between 1908 and 1923 the station at Cachalot and the station at Sechart processed 5 700 whales between them. As of 1915, the Pacific Whaling Company was operated under the name Victoria Whaling Company. The new owner was William Schupp who oversaw operations based out of Seattle as well.

Most stations employed Chinese, Japanese, and First Nations workers. The plant at Cachalot employed around 200 men. While whale oil was initially the main product produced, later canned whale meat or “sea beef”, fertilizer, and less processed whale meat. During WWII there was another spike in demand for whale oil as it could be used to manufacture explosives.

The last station in British Columbia was the Western Whaling Corporation station at Coal Harbour. It shut down operations in 1967. Since then offshore hunting continued until 1975, though whale watching would soon take the place of whale hunting.


Clayoquot Sound Heritage Book of the Month - The Whaling People of the West Coast of Vancouver Island and Cape Flattery

With the annual March Whale Fest coming up just around the corner, we thought it appropriate to recommend this book The Whaling People of the West Coast of Vancouver Island and Cape Flattery (by Eugene Arima and Alan Hoover, published by the Royal BC Museum in 2011), which highlights how Nuučaanuł (Nuu-chah-nulth) culture is intrinsically connected to whales. Nuučaanuł communities were historically reputed at being excellent at whaling.

The style is sometimes ethnological, sometimes anecdotal. Arima and Hoover give provide details on aspects of Nuučaanuł culture, primarily looking at historical examples, while bringing in modern art and perspectives.

As well as providing some interesting information on local history in a matter-of-fact sort of way, transcriptions of oral history inserts additional life and colour.

Make sure to flip to the appendix if you're interested in the Nuučaanuł language (though to really dive in to this, look into the new Linguistics 181 course at UVic, the "Learn our Language" website, or pick up a copy of Nuu-chah-nulth Phrase Book & Dictionary if you're interested in Huu-ay-aht, Ucluelet, Uchucklesaht, or Toquaht dialects specifically).

Order the book from the Vancouver Island Regional Library, or Mermaid Tales Bookshop.

Clayoquot Sound Heritage Book of the Month - Tofino and Clayoquot Sound: A History

Margaret Horsfield has written multiple books about the west coast. Cougar Annie's Garden details the life of Ada Annie Rae Arthur (a.k.a 'Cougar Annie') who lived for much of her life on a homestead at Hesquiaht and whose garden has stood the test of time. Voices from the Sound is a textbook of the written history of the Clayoquot Sound area. Horsfield delved into primary sources, extracting delicious tidbits of information from reams of scrawled notes between shopkeepers, government officials, and the like.

Tofino and Clayoquot Sound: A History is the most recently published book (2014). It is a slightly condensed version of Voices, though certainly chock full of information as well. Each chapter can be read alone, or in sequence. It's not exactly a quick crash course, but more of a thorough journey through time. If you're in Tofino for a while, then well it's worth a read for developing a greater understanding of the complex and diverse social history of Clayoquot Sound.

Order a copy through the Vancouver Island Regional Library or purchase a copy from Mermaid Tales at 455 Campbell Street, Tofino.