Encompassing rainforests, alpine meadows and rocky shores of southern HAIDA GWAII
(formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands), Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site (1495 km2
) harbours some species of plants and animals not found anywhere else on the globe. An understanding was reached in 1988 between the federal and BC provincial governments to create the park reserve, and a co-management agreement between the Government of Canada and the Haida Nation was signed in 1993. Gwaii Haanas, which means "islands of beauty," is the HAIDA
name chosen for this wilderness archipelago of 138 islands.
Accessible only by boat or aircraft, this diverse area harbours over one-quarter, or over 700 000, of BC's nesting SEABIRDS
, including petrels, cormorants, gulls, auklets and puffins, as well as high concentrations of bald eagles and PEREGRINE FALCONS
. It also has a large Steller SEA LION
rookery. Other marine mammals frequenting the coast include northern fur and elephant seals and 11 species of whales, including migrating grey, humpback, sei, fin, minke and the orca or KILLER WHALE
Terrestrial mammals include black bear, river OTTER, MARTEN and a subspecies of WEASEL, the Haida ermine (Mustela erminea haidarum). Predation by introduced species such as raccoons and rats are a threat to seabird colonies.
Vegetation varies from endemic plants of the alpine meadows of the rugged San Christoval Mountains to the towering Sitka SPRUCE of coastal rainforests.
The interplay of land and marine environments, coupled with the abundance of Haida heritage features, distinguishes this national park reserve. The Haida legacy includes the historical village of SGang Gwaay Llnagaay on ANTHONY ISLAND (SGang Gwaay), a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE, as well as numerous inventoried archaeological sites. SGang Gwaay's remaining monumental poles and house posts are a visual reminder of the area's rich human history. To protect this legacy, Haida Gwaii Watchmen act as hosts and guardians here and in 4 other old village sites: T'aanuu Llnagaay (Tanu), K'uuna Llnagaay (Skedans), Hlk'yah GaawGa (Windy Bay) and Gandll K'in Gwaay.yaay (Hotspring Island). Gwaii Haanas's history also includes industrial enterprises such as fish canneries and mines, whose remains are slowly returning to the earth.
The area is a mecca for sea kayakers and boaters, who come to view the rich marine and terrestrial life in a pristine coastal environment.
See also GWAII HAANAS NATIONAL MARINE CONSERVATION AREA RESERVE; SOUTH MORESBY.
Haida Gwaii Memorial Poles
These memorial poles stood in front of a house in SGang Gwaay Llnagaay. The remnants of the village represent an ongoing chapter in Haida artistry (courtesy The Royal British Columbia Museum).
Sunrise at Gwaii Hannas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site (photo by Andrew Wright, courtesy Parks Canada).
Off the coast of Gwaii Hannas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site (photo by Andrew Wright, courtesy Parks Canada).
A longhouse at Windy Bay on Lyell Island (photo by Chris Cheadle, courtesy Parks Canada).
Queen Charlotte Forest
Towering Sitka spruce, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site (Corel Professinal Photos).
Totem Poles, SGang Gwaay
The totem poles of SGang Gwaay are popular with visitors (photo by Linda Tollas, courtesy Parks Canada).
MAXWELL W. FINKELSTEIN Rev: MARCIA MORASH and HEATHER RAMSAY
Links to Other Sites
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve of Canada
The Parks Canada website for the scenic Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve of Canada. Features online resources about Haida history and culture as well as local geography and natural history. See also the link to the "Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site".
An Approach to Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes
A fascinating Parks Canada research report about incorporating traditional Aboriginal values and spiritual views of the natural world into the process of developing national historic site designations.
A Journey to a New Land
A multimedia website about the arrival of early humans in the Americas. Features activities that help students learn about archaeological research techiques and discoveries. From the SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and the Virtual Museum of Canada.
National Parks Project
A close-up virtual tour of Canada's superb National Parks. Based on the National Parks Project TV series at Discovery World HD online.