Take Me Away to Haida Gwaii

Tow Hill
Dusk on Tow Hill, Naikoon Provincial Park, Haida Gwaii. Photo: Lonely Planet

I do most of my traveling through the books I read. I’ve been to Asia and Africa, seen the castles of Europe and the rainforests of South America, across America and Down Under, but sometimes a setting just grabs me, makes me fall in love with a place I may never get to see. Haida Gwaii is one of those places.

Photo: Purewest.com

I’m currently listening to The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny and Chief Inspector Gamache, the main character, has taken a short trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands In British Columbia. The islands were officially renamed  after the book was published, becoming Haida Gwaii, which means “People of the Island” in the native language. I know that when I get around to reviewing the book, I’ll concentrate on the characters, the plot, and the main setting, the small town of Three Pines, so I wanted to take minute to talk about this beautiful land, one that, at least from the story I’m reading seems to be caught between the worlds. It has one foot here and one foot the mists of time.

Haida Gwaii is an archipelago on the North Coast of British Columbia, Canada, composed of two main islands and 150 smaller ones. It’s a land of mountains and great forests, of water and wild animals. It’s still a wilderness, to some extent, isolated from the mainland. The Haida people have held onto their culture, treasure it.

Photo: Asta's Adventures

I want to go to this land of mystery, where you can feel the spirits still. I want to see the totems, touch the giant red cedars, walk on the windswept beaches. I want to gaze up at the snow-covered mountain, listen to the stories, see the art. And, as an enticement to my husband, there’s always the fishing and kayaking.

I had never hear of Haida Gwaii before reading this story, but Penny captures it so well, makes it seem like a land apart, a mysterious, beautiful place, a place where the present and past still walk together, and people still believe, in their land, in their history, in each other.

What was the last place a book made you fall in love with?

19 Comments

    • Jim

      Hello there. My wife and I had the joy of living on Haida Gwaii. I just happened to see your title “Take me Away” when I tried to googled my song. Please have a listen if you like. I wrote it while living on North Beach just at the end of the pavement before it turns to gravel.
      If you go there, click see all songs first, to get the whole list. Then please go to Take me away and hit the lyrics tab, then click on the song. My lyrics are important to me, I like to follow along with the song the first time so you hear the message. Thanks, hope you like it.
      Peace, Jim

  1. It’s been ages since the last book I read that was set in an exotic locale here on Earth. I usually read stories that take place in just regular places in the U.S. and I like those.

    Never heard of Haida Gwaii. I’ve traveled in British Columbia a good bit, but never to that part of the province. I’d love to go.

    Lee
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    Wrote By Rote

  2. Cat

    Gorgeous pics – thanks for sharing. I think this is the same place that is so much a part of Susan Vreelands ‘The Forest Lover” – her book about the artist Emily Carr, and I also recognised in The Brutal Telling. Stunning natural beauty and fascinating history – I’d love to go there too!

  3. Angela

    Hi there, thanks for your interesting post. Living on Haida Gwaii is a dream of mine. I have always felt inspired by the books Jack London wrote, and would love to experience the wilderness of the Yukon and Alaska someday.

  4. Patti Jones

    I’ve lived on Haida Gwaii for 38 years now and my husband’s family have been here for generations and generations. To me, it’s my island paradise! Visit if you can! 🙂

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