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Watching the bears
Watching the bears
Checking out Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island Wildlife Tour

Thursday, May 20, 2004
Ben is awestruck on a tour that has him pretty close to some wild grizzlies … What an adventure!

Rain, hail or shine, Zodiac Tours battle the waters of Campbell River, the beginning of the narrow point of passage between Vancouver Island and the Canadian mainland.

The east coast of the island is a fishing, diving and golf haven and the waterfront resorts maintain the elegance of the 1920s. It is historically known as the "salmon capital of the world" and lies in the heart of Strathcona Park, Desolation Sound, Mt Washington and Robson Bight.

Painter's Lodge is five kilometres north of Campbell River overlooking Discovery Passage. During the 1920s, fishing in the area became so popular that little tent colonies sprang up on the Tyee Spit, a finger of land at the mouth of the River.

An enterprising boat builder named Mr E P Painter put in a few cabins next to his business premises and the location was so perfect — within metres of Frenchman's Pool and Tyee Pool — that its popularity encouraged him to build a main lodge in 1929.

In no time it became a favourite of politicians, heads of state and Hollywood actors such as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Susan Hayward and John Wayne.

Sadly the lodge was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve 1985. Oak Bay Marine Group began rebuilding in 1987 and an area of the new lodge is dedicated to the old lodge with much memorabilia and photographs from the early years. It has again become a favourite of the famous just as the first lodge was and has a Marine Adventure Centre, Conference Centre, Fitness Centre and tennis courts.

"Hurricane" Jack Springer is a naturalist and was instrumental in developing the adventure tour program for the Oak Bay Marine Group which runs out of Painter's Lodge. He has worked in the area for more than 20 years and is an outdoor adventure educator. His trips combine a narrative of natural and cultural history and visits to areas known for wildlife sightings.

He takes you out in a seven metre Hurricane Zodiac inflatable which will carry 12 passengers. Tours last three to four hours and the boat can reach up to 45km/h. They carry the latest navigation and communication aids as well as safety equipment. Passengers are kitted out in the best weather gear, including cruiser suits.

The area's abundance of salmon attracts an exciting assortment of wildlife including black bears, Stellar sea lions, Minke whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, feeding eagles, orcas, porpoises, seals, deer and myriads of birds. There is nothing quite like seeing the sky black with bald eagles in a feeding frenzy.

The route Jack takes is known as the inside passage, basically the inside route to Alaska. For most of the trip you are flanked by misty mountains and some of the tallest trees on the planet.


Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia.


Air Canada flies daily to Vancouver.
Painter’s Lodge Wildlife Adventure Tours operates from Campbell River on Vancouver Island, a 50 minute flight from Vancouver.
Tours start from about $90 per person. They operate daily from June to September.
Adventure World has 6 night packages to Vancouver, including return economy airfare and twin share accommodation starting from $2516 ex Sydney, $2652 ex Melbourne and Brisbane, $2875 ex Adelaide, $3208 ex Perth and $3218 ex Darwin, per person.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

Air Canada Reservations
Ph: 1300 655 767
Adventure World
Ph: (02) 9286 8900 in Sydney
Toll Free 1300 655 767
Painter's Lodge
Ph: 0011 1 250 598 3366

Canada Travel Information Line: 1300 300 576

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