Transcript of the 1946 trip to
West Vancouver Island
and to the
Queen Charlotte Islands
Edward F. Ricketts

1938 Photo of Ed Ricketts

Compiled by
Robert 'Roy' J. van de Hoek
Field Biologist & Geographer
Sierra Club, Wetlands Action Network, National Audubon Society

Left Pacific Grove Wed. May 22 on the Del Monte 8:30 AM after having sent 7 pcs, 609# baggage Sunday nite before. Leaving Ferry Bldg on the 5 PM Cascade, Seattle King St. Station 5:05 PM Thursday half hour late after the railway strike was on.

Arr Victoria 9:30 AM almost an hour late Fri May 24th after breakfast aboard, went thru customs with hand baggage, filling forms for camera and microscopes . . . At Kildonan, mid-afternoon, many halibut fisherman tied up at the float of the fine big British Columbia Packers plant [This big cannery has since burned down] {Roy van de Hoek note -the brackets may indicate a Joel Hedgepth insert}.

In a channel on Echachis, a large wild animal working in the kelp. Between a mink and fox in size, fairly flat but very slim, beautiful gray fur, short legs. A wonderful-looking beast that scuttled away, where, I could never make out, when I appeared. Apparently a land otter, but there's just one chance in a thousand it may have been a sea otter (which are reputed still to occur on these rugged offshoer islands here and in the Charlottes; those in the Charlottes aren't ever visited to this day) on one of his rare excursions ashore. In California, they never are known to go ashore. In the old days they used to. And here they may still. *1

*1 - Footnote by Joel Hedgpeth, 1978: "This is a difficult identification to make from the limited observation but the grey color does suggest a sea otter, as does the animal's prompt disappearance. The fisher is very dark brown, almost black, usually, and the marten is also quite distinctly brown. A land otter could appear greey and it is a pity Ricketts makes no mention of the tail. Possibly this could be significant, since the tail is very much noticeable in the land otter or fisher or even marten, while the sea otter has a very short and barely noticeable tail. (R. L. Haig-Brown.)

To the eagles watching high over Portland Canal, the steamer that's so great to us must seem like a dot at the bottom of a great trough. For 40 miles in some places, that canal, not an inlet but an outright canal, runs straight into the mountains which get higher and higher while still you're sailing on tide water in a channel that gets deeper and deeper. . .

These inland passages are the quietest places you've ever seen. Nothing but the drip of rain, the sound of waterfall, and the songs of the thrushes; at dawn and dusk, the hillsides ring with their whistles, and maybe not other sound. Russet-backed thrush, sound of the wilderness.

First collecting trip was that same night, fishing over the tide rip from 7:30 PM on in the drizzling rain. Got 4 salmon from 3 to 5# each. The largest which we took home to eat - first fish Toni had ever caught and she was a thrilled gal - had a silver lance, Ammodytes, undigested in the gullet. The flesh of these young salmon is poor, looks wonderful, vivid red, but not taste, just like eating watery and tasteless meat.

On July 17th, we had another look at the animals of the 2.0' level east of the Clayoquot wharf region. Picked up a lot of chitons for jinglebollix.

Well, Jnny Boy, this is it, this is 30, the trips of 1945 and 46 are over, it's your book now, and God bless you.

Some Notes and Reflections by
Robert Roy van de Hoek
From Sea Otters to Bald Eagles to Salmon with marine invertebrates in its gullet and even a mention of chitons and jinglebollix, Edward Ricketts writes in his journals and field notes, many relevant observations and ideas for all of us to contemplate. Let me not forget the passage by Ed Ricketts of wilderness, waterfalls, quiet, thrush songs, rain, dawn and dusk. This web page presents excerpts of a few of these observations by Edward Ricketts. His trip occurred just one year after World War II ended, now 56 years ago. I will compile the entire journal at a later time. I do wish and hope that I can transcribe his entire journal of the 1946 expedition to the Queen Charlotte Islands. It feels as though I am living the trip through his eyes and pen. I've made one trip to Vancouver Island in 1995, but we stopped short of taking the ferry at the north end of the Vancouver Island. Oh well, there is always tomorrow.