Klemtu is an isolated community located in a pristine cove on Swindle Island, 228km/142mi northwest of Bella Coola. Enclosed by the Great Bear Rainforest, the village sits on the doorstep of Princess Royal Island, home of the legendary white Spirit Bear, the Kermode.
Klemtu’s population of 420 is composed of two First Nations groups who speak completely different languages; the Kitasoo (kit-ah-soo), the southernmost tribe of the Tsimshian (sim-SHE-an) First Nation, and the Xai’xais (hay-hace). By 1875, the population of the two groups had declined so precipitously that they joined together to establish a settlement nearer the region’s main shipping routes. The new community underwrote its economy with money from cutting cordwood for coastal steamers, for which Klemtu became a refuelling stop.
The community’s key economic driver is aquaculture, and most residents live along the waterfront. Commercial activities are centered at the public Transport Canada wharf, where services include a well-equipped general store, café, post office, modern fuel facility (with a full range of marine and auto fuels) and community health clinic.
Klemtu’s monumental ‘Big House’ is constructed of red cedar and emblazoned with the village’s clan emblems (raven, eagle, wolf and killer whale) and used for celebrations, traditional dances and memorials that allow residents to reconnect with their past and bring ancient traditions alive. The area abounds with incredible scenery, superb wildlife-viewing opportunities, and the local waterways are ideal for both fishing and kayaking. Experienced paddlers bring their own kayaks for independent exploring through the surrounding labyrinth of scenic inland fjords. One local tour company, owned and operated by the local First Nations band, has opened the stunning, modern Spirit Bear Lodge to house visitors while offering eco-cultural and wildlife-viewing tours that include trips to Princess Royal Island and the Fiordland Conservancy marine park. Visit with a hereditary chief as you ply the rich ocean waters and learn the coastal story of creation.