Established in the 1890s at the mouth of the Salmon River, Sayward was then called Port Kusum. The establishment of a post office in 1904 saw the name change to Salmon River, which lasted until 1911 when the settlement was officially named Sayward for pioneer lumberman William Parsons Sayward. (Mr. Sayward never visited the area, but the provincial government decided he deserved the honor of having a place named after him.)
Sayward remained a remote logging community, accessed only by water, until after the Second World War when a gravel road was built from Campbell River. It was less than 20 years ago that the road was paved.
While logging is the primary economic engine in Sayward, outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing are quickly making an impact.
The village is right on Johnstone Strait, the best place in the world to see killer whales. Charter cruises out of the village will get you up close and personal with these mystical mammals.
For fishing, there’s salmon to be had in the Strait. Freshwater fishing for trout and steelhead is fantastic on the Salmon, White, Adam, and Eve rivers. Hikers may come across herds of Roosevelt Elk; they’re sure to see eagles, and if you’re really lucky a cougar.
The lakes and rivers offer a range of canoeing and kayaking routes and there’s hiking trails galore. The White River Forest in Sayward is a piece of heaven on earth, a place so beautiful, loggers refused to cut down the trees. The area, now protected, has some easy walking trails. Twenty-five minutes south of Sayward, Roberts Lake offers hiking, picnicking, swimming, canoeing and fishing. There’s also a museum dedicated to the area’s logging history.
One hour north is Schoen Lake Park, home to Mt. Cain, a small but popular ski hill. Drive to the top and take in the incredible views. There’s also a network of hiking trails on Mt. Cain.
IF YOU GO
BY ROAD: From Port Hardy, take the Island Highway (Hwy. 19) south. The 140-kilometer trip takes about 2 1/2 hours. From the south, take the Inland Island Highway north from Nanaimo. Connect with the Island Highway at Mud Bay; continue north through Campbell River. The 250-kilometer trip takes about four hours.
BY AIR: Scheduled airline connections are out of Vancouver to Campbell River. Floatplane service is also available.