port hardy in photos

Here are some photos of our town and the area surrounding it.

Our lovely little rental house is an endangered species, a ranch, all on one floor. Excellent for my problematic knees and ankles.

It would have made more sense to build the deck on this side, where there's a lot more space and still plenty of privacy.

Instead, the deck is in the back, up against a neighbour's house -- which I'm guessing was built after ours. But these neighbours are rarely home, they are usually off exploring in their gigantic RV. And we are very happy to have a deck!

Diego wants to play.

Our street -- looking towards the cul-de-sac, the forest.

Our street looking towards the main road. Note the mountains in the distance.

Here's the view from around the corner, on an (extremely rare) clear day.

Less than a five-minutes drive, we are in town. Here's my library!

Downstairs from the Library is the Port Hardy Museum. They've been closed for the winter, but I'm looking forward to working with them.

The Library and Museum are on Market Street, Port Hardy's cute little main street.

Guido's is a local landmark -- an excellent cafe, a lovely small bookstore and gift shop, and a large and extensive shop filled with the work of local artists and artisans. It's the only place like it in our town, and it's an absolute gem.

This restaurant has two names -- the original name, Captain Hardy's -- which most people still use, even though it's no long the name of the place -- and the new name, Fire Chefs. Captain Hardy's had a long history here, and the new owners very smartly kept one of the signs. The food is amazing. I keep trying to order something different, but when you've found the most perfect fish-and-chips -- from halibut, no less -- it's hard to say no.

There are lots of murals in the area. The one above is next to Fire Chefs. The one below is the library and museum building.

Like Guido's, Macandale's is a local landmark.

Unfortunately a lot of Port Hardy looks like this. This is what it means to live in a "resource town," tied to extraction industries. A mill closes, a mine is abandoned, a fishing run is depleted -- and this happens. It's boom or bust.

But facing the other way, you see this. You're never far from mountains and water here.

The Christian Fellowship offers a free, hot -- and reportedly delicious -- breakfast every morning. They serve anywhere from 30 to 150 people each day. They are good people, who treat everyone with dignity and respect, and aren't fishing for converts.

Here's our little post office. There's no door-to-door delivery here. That's no problem for us, as we live five minutes away, but it's definitely an issue for more rural folks. The post-office workers are super friendly and helpful.

That's Allan and Diego going to pick up one of our many packages. It's Sunday -- on weekdays there are always lots of trucks outside and people running in and out.

The sign says mall, but it's really it's just the Save On Foods (supermarket), a pharmacy, a subway, and a lot of empty space. There's also a job bank and some other service agencies inside.

There are a few chain stores here.

This is the intersection at Rt. 19 -- the road down to Campbell River and the rest of the island. You can see our only fast-food restaurant, and our two gas stations.

This guy is everywhere. There are no traffic lights in the whole town! This intersection is known as "the four-way". See the bay and mountains in the distance.

This is a First Nations-owned hotel and restaurant. The food is supposed to be great; we are looking forward to going. I'm planning a separate post about the restaurants of the area, but I'm waiting until we've been to them all once. The options are limited, but so far all the food has been really good.

We heard there was Chinese food in town, but we couldn't find it. Along with several other things I was looking for, I was told, "It's at the old mall". We looked everywhere but still nothing. Finally I asked someone where this "old mall" is. Turns out it's between our place and the main street, but well off the road. It's more properly called a ghost mall, although it is trying to make a comeback.

The Old Mall is on a hill; this is the view from the parking lot.

Of course there's a mural.

This is the Chinese restaurant. There is supposed to be a Filipino grocery store in the mall, but I never found it. There is a nails/beauty place, a couple of kiosks, and not much else. But there was a lot of construction. I'll check back on their progress.

I was very surprised to see a lovely little cafe in the middle of the ghost mall.

On Rt. 19, as you enter the Port Hardy District, you pass a group of these historical plaques. They are really nicely done. Eventually we will visit everything listed here. Five of these communities are home to my libraries. Alert Bay, a First Nations community, also has its own library.

Vancouver Island North:

Port Alice:

Alert Bay:

Port McNeill:


Don't you love tourism history? Those "hardy Scandanavian immigrants"
were striking coal miners! They left out the best part!



Telegraph Cove:

Coal Harbor:

And our own Port Hardy:

Some other random facts about the area.

Back in town again: the bay is steps away from Port Hardy's main street. Every time we're there we see at least one bald eagle.

Every town in Canada has a cenotaph, but this one also honours First Nations people who died in the empire's wars.

Here are some views of the bay south of town, and also Storey's Beach, a great place to picnic or take your dog for a run. On the way back from Storey's Beach, we turned off at a sign for wildlife viewing. It was an estuary, said to be excellent environments to see migrating birds -- and animals looking for a migrating-bird dinner. We didn't see either, but it was a lovely walk.

Storey's Beach:

Pretty nice spot to wait for a ferry. This boat goes to Bella Coola, Haida Gwaii, and Prince Rupert, on BC's Inside Passage.

There are huge mountains in the distance, but they usually look like this.

I'll do separate photo posts for each of the towns or sites we visit.


Amy said...

Thanks for posting these. It's great to be able to visualize the places you talk about. When you lived in Mississauga, I just assumed it looked like most places in the US, but Port Hardy is so different. And wow---mountains and the bay! Amazing!

allan said...

The shots of "the ghost mall" were on Sunday, January 20 - and one of them shows the Super Blood Wolf Moon before sunset. We then went home and promptly forgot about the moon until hours later. Looking from the front yard, the red moon was smaller, but it looked almost 3-D!

laura k said...

Thank you, Amy! Your requests for photos motivated me to do this. :)

Mississauga: just imagine strip malls and shopping plazas as far as the eye can see, mcmansions squeezed right next to each other, hundreds of townhouses sandwiched in every available spot. Ugly condo towers everywhere. And traffic. Take all that and multiply it by 1,000.

There are nice parks, great libraries :) and community centres, and there's art and culture if you are really motivated to find it. And people from all over the world, and the wonderful culture and food they bring with them.

But mostly just shopping.

We moved to just about the polar opposite.

allan said...

Also, less than two minutes from our house is the bay and at low tide, you can walk out maybe 200 yards amid millions of shells and sea weed and hollowed-out bits of crab legs. Dozens of birds feasting. And Diego can run wild, chasing birds and splashing in the water. He always goes in only until the water is maybe halfway up his legs, not touching his belly. Though he sometimes puts his head under the water.

This afternoon, we were walking out to where the waterline was and I realised that there were two bald eagles on the ground at the water's edge. They took off long before we got anywhere near them, but one of them flew back towards us (and the tall trees along the shore) and passed flying low and maybe 75 yards away.

It was sunny and a little bit warm and just wonderful. It's amazing that I now live less than a two-minute drive from being able to do this. When it's warmer, I'd like to bring out a chair and a book and a towel for Diego to lay om and just sit way out there and relax. That might be just the thing to do for an hour or so before coming home and "going" to work.

Amy said...

Like I imagined. Like all too many places in the US.

Your descriptions of life in Port Hardy, Allan, sound idyllic.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hey guys. Just wanted to pass this along. One of my favourite spots when I'm riding the north island is the Cable Cook House Cafe in Sayward. You can check it out here:


laura k said...

Thank you, MoS! Sounds great. We plan to check out every place in this part of the world. Probably wouldn't have found this one.

impudent strumpet said...

Thoughts in the order in which they occur to me:

1. It's all so green for January! As I'm typing this, there's a snowstorm raging outside here in Toronto.

2. The "view from around the corner" pic is interesting, because the trees look real and the snow caps on the mountains look real, but the water and the middle-distance land/islands and the bottoms of the mountains don't look real, in that they look like a painting or something. The front layer of clouds looks real, but the sky doesn't look real. Like someone photoshopped elements of real life into a Group of Seven painting.

3. Does the bear in front of your library have a name and/or backstory?

4. I'm surprised such a small town can support a car dealership!

5. I'm imagining Diego disregarding the no dogs sign and pushing the wheelchair button to open the door of the post office. Does he know how to do that?

6. I'm amazed your town has two hardware stores and my neighbourhood has zero! (The comparison is significant because the population of my neighbourhood is about five times the population of your town.)

7. I enjoy the fact that the carrot has teeth marks in it. Someone (or perhaps even a committee) made the decision to do that!

laura k said...

Excellent questions!

1. Yes! It is green all year here! We live in the middle of a rainforest. Think of Port Hardy as a big clearing in a much bigger rainforest.

2. I also thought the bay and those middle-distance purple mountains look like a painting. Yet there it is. The view from here.

3. No name that I know of -- but I'll ask. I assume the backstory is that there are bears on all the "welcome to Port Hardy" signs, both in town and on the road into town, so someone thought the library and museum should have one. But I'll ask. The library had a reno in 2016, and the same staff was here. They'll get a kick out of the question.

4. TWO car dealerships! That's because Port Hardy is a hub for the whole North Island. Port Hardy is the only alternative to driving to Campbell River, which is 2.5 to 3 hours away.

5. Definitely not, but that would be so adorable!

6. THREE hardware stores (Ace, Home Hardware, Macandale's), plus a big building supply store (Hardy Building Supply), and there's a Rona's in Port McNeill! Crazy!

7. I enjoy that too. I also enjoy that the carrot is not a vegetable but a metaphor. Until I read the explanation, I assumed the town had something to do with growing carrots, or perhaps there was some folktale about carrots. But it's something more abstract, and is humourous or at least amusing.

johngoldfine said...

Obviously, you all are getting a kick out of life in PH--but the ghost malls and disappearing industries and shuttered businesses also weave through the comments, leaving the reader with a frisson of dread, the kind of thing a good novelist can offer.

Or maybe I just get that because I'm reading Megan Abbott's faux-YA novels right now, novels that give 'The Turn of the Screw' or 'The Wendigo' a run for their money in the nameless dread sweepstakes. Have you ever read her?--she definitely does not shelve in the YA section, though the books I'm reading are about teenage gymnasts and cheerleaders. Have you read anything by her?

All that aside, the picture of Diego examining the no-dogs sign makes my day.

laura k said...

I haven't read any Megan Abbott -- and as usual with your reading references, have never heard of her! A quick google makes her sound really good. You know I like the hardboiled stuff.

There is a lot of poverty here in the North Island. It's not so much dread as a daily condition. Mills have closed, mines have been played out, plus there's a fair share of substance abuse and other issues that keep people down. The people here really need their libraries!

johngoldfine said...

"It's not so much dread as a daily condition."

If you ever get a chance to see Fred Wiseman's film 'Belfast Maine,' check it out. It documents my corner of the world (and Jean is onscreen for a few seconds!)--a place that used to have pulp harvesting, dairy farms, chicken houses, sardine packing, chicken slaughtering, granite quarrying, fishing--mostly all gone now. Played out, offshored, run down, overtaken, undercapitalized, end-of-the-pipelined, economy-of-scale-shuttered.

laura k said...

I thought I had seen all of Wiseman's films, but this doesn't sound familiar. I will check it out. When I find it, I'll email you to ask where Jean is. :)

allan said...

3. No name that I know of --

Booky the Bear!

laura k said...

Booky the Bear!

Really?! How did you know that? (And why didn't I?)

allan said...


I made that up. ... It would be amazing if it's correct!

Amy said...

LOL! I had a feeling you were bluffing. I guess even after all these years, you can still pull one over on Laura!

impudent strumpet said...

If the bear doesn't already have a name, I think Allan just named it!

Maybe all the bears in town on all the signs etc. have names and interconnected backstories

allan said...

I guess even after all these years, you can still pull one over on Laura!

I wasn't even trying to do that. I was being silly!

laura k said...

Every time! He gets me Every. Single. Time.

I'm intrigued by Imp Strump's idea. Children's book? Contest for Summer Reading Club, name the Library Bear?

Amy said...

LOL! It keeps things fresh, doesn't it? :)

I love the idea of kids naming the bears---after their favorite bear characters. Winnie the Pooh, Paddington, Smokey the Bear, Little Bear, Corduroy---there must be others?

laura k said...

There are many others! So many bears!

I think we would try for an Indigenous name. This conversation is giving me a lot of good ideas! I just better check if the bear already has a name.

impudent strumpet said...

Children's book! Booky the Bear comes to life at night and solves library mysteries!

(Are there library mysteries? There must be. Why am I questioning the notion of library mysteries but not questioning the bear coming to life at night and solving mysteries?)