In June 2016, we were privileged to participate in the annual special edition trip to Haida Gwaii that Maple Leaf Adventures offers with Canadian Geographic and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. The 2016 special resource person was ... Read More
In June 2016, we were privileged to participate in the annual special edition trip to Haida Gwaii that Maple Leaf Adventures offers with Canadian Geographic and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. The 2016 special resource person was Severn Cullis-Suzuki - marine ecologist, ethnobotanist, author and environmental activist.
After a day and a half on land touring natural and cultural sites around Masset on Graham Island, we boarded the Maple Leaf Adventures ship, MV Swell, for the next 7 nights. It is a lovingly restored tugboat, originally built in 1912. The Swell has six guest cabins (each with their own ensuite facilities) and offers all the comforts of home – a large indoor lounge/dining room with library, outdoor lounge, hot tub, zodiacs for daily shore visits, and optional kayaking and fishing.
Our crew (Captain Steve, Kevin, Maureen, Lila, and Severn) was a first class team, working together with constant cheerfulness and dedication to every detail. Their knowledge, respect and passion for the land and its people, and their commitment to sustainable practices, were infectious. Key highlights included visits to the remains of three former Haida villages with their ceremonial poles and longhouses, where we learned directly from their Haida Watchmen about each site’s history as well as the culture and history of the Haida. We also met carvers and parks experts, and learned about the abundant marine life of the intertidal zones, the rich and diverse red and yellow cedar and Sitka spruce rainforests, and how the Haida use both marine ecosystems and rainforests with respect.
The meals were incredible -- as creative, well-presented and tasty as in five-star restaurants in the biggest cities! We took photos of each plate before indulging. We would like to adopt Lila as our personal chef!
We shared several of our daily adventures with the guests and crew of the other Maple Leaf Adventures ship, the beautifully restored schooner SV Maple Leaf, originally built in 1904. Both ships anchored together three times overnight, and guests from both ships were entertained as a group with expert stories about Haida culture and history and the need for respect, balance and interconnection with the earth. We learned the inside story about the how the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and the Haida Heritage Site came to be, from some of the people who were directly involved in their creation some 30 years ago. We even made history, successfully completing and celebrating the first-ever Maple Leaf Adventures transit through the very narrow and shallow Louise Narrows!
Going on this unparalleled trip is not limited to the young, nor does it require super fitness. Our fellow guests ranged in age from their 30s to the eldest at 92! You do have to be able to climb (with assistance) into and out of MV Swell from a zodiac, and from the zodiac to shore. The crew are very helpful and safety is paramount. Shore walks are varied, providing options depending on your abilities. That means happy people, always having fun and learning!
If you want to rejuvenate your spirit, share wonderful daily adventures with like-minded new friends, and be treated like family by a crew who obviously respect one another and the incredible environment they interpret with such knowledge and passion, this is the trip for you!
We have booked our next trip on MV Swell – an Alaska voyage in 2017 -- and we look forward to another sublime experience. Thank you, Maple Leaf Adventures for helping us cross one item off our bucket list!
Maple Leaf Adventures offers several other Haida Gwaii trips each year. Read Less