Ocean Falls Museum
Ocean Falls has been the home for people from before recorded history. Long ago there were a people known to the earliest local natives called “Atakwis” The only indication of their existence is two fold, rock carvings and pictographs at three locations, and legends and stories amongst the “Bella Coolas” and “Kwakiutls”. One legend explains how the “Atakwis” became the people known as “Sasquatch”, which is a legendary people/anomaly, now known worldwide.
Captain James Cook was the first to land near Ocean Falls at the mouth of Cousins inlet and called the place “Nootka”,
March 1778. After a half dozen ships frequented the area, and a skirmish in 1789
between the British and the Spanish, where the latter seized the formers ships,
Captain George Vancouver arrived in April of 1792. He named the area New Hanover
and explored the region extensively until June 5 1793 when Captain George
Vancouver visited the future site of Ocean Falls, which is logged in his
After a generation of inactivity and in the years that followed there were many to work the area. And the main interest was fur trading.
The town site of Ocean Falls as an industrial community, was first imagined by three men looking at the Link Lake falls and surrounding area, as they surveyed the lush timber lease, and potential pulp mill site, from a canoe. It was
May 1903 and the three men were, J.F. Keefe, John Hewitt, and Mark Smaby.
They were in the process of locating a pulp mill site that could also
supply power. They were impressed first with the magnificent Falls
coming from The lake later to be called Link Lake a misspelling of a First Nations name for the lake.
September of 1906, twenty-five men disembarked the steamer “Venture” at the new townsite with the sole propose of clearing the land.
Eventually a pulp mill was built and a sawmill, power house and even a dam years later. The town, people and the mill flourished, even though the tough times.
Years later the first natural disaster hit in the evening on January 13 1965, at 9:45. So far that winter five or six feet of snow had fallen, and the temperature had risen dramatically, and the precipitation continued to fall, like the ocean
from the sky, for days. A stream up top of Mount Caro Marion had jammed with Ice water and snow, until it couldn’t hold any more. It was weird that the power went out five minutes before the slide happened. Yet by all accounts, that was the order of it, and when the mud snow and ice and debris came down, it took with it seven souls. The slide also destroyed The office of the “Ocean Falls Advertiser, and narrowly missed the store and repair shop “C&F Radio”.
It has been said that the company Crown Zellerbach, being the principle and final corporate owner of Ocean Falls, planned not for the future of the town and people, but planned
for a funeral. In the final private thought and moments before C. Z. pulled out of the lives of many, the company
most effectively embalmed the town by securing all of the surrounding timber rights, and convinced the Provincial Government of the day to transfer those rights to an other of the companies mills. This single act made it all but impossible for any future operation to succeed.
April 18,1972 the word was out that the town was to be shut down and even returned back to nature, as though none had ever been there. March of 1973 was when the company Crown Zellerbach was to evacuate the town. And in the final hours, the BC government it was reported would purchase the town, mill and all else for a Million dollars.
Ups and downs, until August of 1985 when the government of BC intended
to normalize the town by demolition. The remaining residents opposed the
government until it was decided to recognize the Heritage status of the
town and turn over the town to a newly and hastily formed Ocean Falls
Improvement District. This didn't happen until a majority of the town
site had been destroyed. At the present there are thirty people that live in Ocean
Falls year round and in the summer months, there are about seventy.
Much more can be savoured by purchasing;
“The Story Of Ocean Falls RAIN PEOPLE”
By: Bruce Ramsey
Ocean Falls Improvement District
Ocean Falls, British Columbia V0T 1P0