The archipelago off British Columbia’s west coast is a haven for living history.

“The tide waits for no one.” Skipper and First Nations guide James Cowpar greeted me with this nugget of seafaring wisdom, but I was running late and attempting to buckle my life vest as I boarded his boat, which was anchored in a small harbor in the village of Daajing Giids. “We have a tight window,” he said, further emphasizing the deadline. Minutes later, the 30-foot vessel cut a path through British Columbia’s Skidegate Narrows, which separates Graham Island to the north from Moresby Island to the south.

As we rounded the horn, traveling at 25 knots, Cowpar surveyed the swells, the low-lying clouds, and the sockeye salmon catching some air above the surf. “Welcome to our territory,” he said. We had reached the wild west coast of Haida Gwaii.

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Haida Gwaii’s lush coastline.

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