Turn your back on time at Telegraph Cove

The entrance to Telegraph Cove, where the killer whale theme predominates

The tiny settlement of Telegraph Cove on northeastern Vancouver Island celebrated its centennial in 2012; we had heard much about the place and felt that the centenary was as good a time as any for a visit. A lot of what we found captivated us – the place has been carefully preserved as the original boardwalk community that served as a sawmilling and cannery settlement in the early years of the 20thcentury. It is easy to imagine life in the ‘olden days’ in this tiny, isolated spot thanks to the dedication and efforts of the owners of Telegraph Cove Resort.

The boardwalk – cute, colourful, quaint, and a history lesson all on its own

            There were several highlights of our overnight stay at Telegraph Cove.  We loved wandering along the boardwalk and reading the history of the cottages, cabins and other structures that line the historic walkway. The history is intriguing and certainly adds to the experience of a stay there.  The fact that the original dwellings have been preserved, upgraded and made available for rental accommodation had appealed to us too  – visions of a cosy retreat looking on to the water danced in our heads. Although some of the buildings are in need of very minor maintenance the overall ambiance, enhanced by attractive floral displays at every turn, was enough to charm us.           

The whale interpretive centre offers up much information on the huge marine mammals that inhabit the northeastern waters of the Island – as well as an appreciation of their massive size

The second highlight of our adventure at Telegraph Cove was the Whale Interpretive Centre, located at the far end of the boardwalk. It is an outstanding educational offering that offers great insights into the lives of (and threats to) the many whales that are regularly seen off the northeast coast of the Island. Knowledgeable staff were on hand to answer our questions, and the many excellent displays were well worth the ‘by donation’ admission.

            Finally, the morning of our leave-taking found us in the cosy and unique Cove Coffee Company, perched at the end of the boardwalk across from the Whale Interpretive Centre. It boasted of the best view in Telegraph Cove, which it certainly had.  We enjoyed an excellent hot beverage, comfortable chairs and lively conversation with the lone employee prior to our departure.

The Cove Coffee Company offered warm, comfortable ambiance, great views, good hot beverages

 A caution here though, readers.  Nothing at Telegraph Cove is cheap (or free), and we came away with the impression that the resort is all about business and little else. When we checked in we were directed, not to the detached self-catering cottage with a deck that we had reserved seven months earlier, but to another building with several adjoining units – and paper-thin walls.  When my husband pointed out that we had reserved the free-standing cabin we were told that we had been ‘upgraded’. I wasn’t feeling too ‘upgraded’ at 5:55 a.m. the next day when someone hit the shower in the adjoining unit and woke me up. Nor was I feeling ‘upgraded’ with no deck, but only windows to look out over the water, the marina below – and the vinyl-sided condos and the campground that occupy the opposite side of the cove. A further cautionary note if you decide to stay at the cove – be sure to take your groceries in with you.  The general store at Telegraph Cove offers basic necessities at grossly inflated prices – I picked up a very small box of tea bags that sells for between $3 and $4 in normal grocery stores, but left it on the counter when I was told the price was $6.99.  And, don’t think you are going to get off without spending money if you decide to just visit Telegraph Cove for an afternoon or a couple of hours – you have to pay for parking in the resort parking lot.

The view across the cove from the boardwalk and, incidentally, from many of the accommodation options

            Still, there is much that is good about this historic place.  It is kid, dog, and wheelchair-friendly (although not sure if accommodations are wheelchair accessible).  The fishing is marvelous. There are so many great outdoor adventures that operate out of Telegraph Cove that it is mind-boggling. For a family vacation that will get you back to nature and offer up some of the most beautiful scenery to be had anywhere, Telegraph Cove isn’t a bad bet.  Just be sure you have a lot of money in your bank account!

            Further information on Telegraph Cove can be found at:



GPS co-ordinates are:

Lat. 50.54534474310553  Long. -126.83315634727478

N 50 32.721 W 126 49.989




About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers.
In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.

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