Gold River received tremendous media coverage worldwide in July 2001 when Luna the Killer Whale became a media sensation when he turned up in Nootka Sound after being separated from his pod in Puget Sound in Washington. Attempts to reunite Luna (L98) with his family were suspended, as the Mowachaht and Muchalaht First Nations believed Luna, or Tsuxit, embodied the spirit of Chief Ambrose Maquinna, who had died just days before the whale was first seen in the area. The orca loved to play around boats, and sadly this ultimately led to his death in March 2006, when Luna got too close to the propellers of a tug boat in Mooyah Bay, one of Luna's favourite places in winter.
Via the Inland Island Highway the Village of Gold River is less than 3 hours from ferries in Nanaimo. The Gold River Highway (Hwy #28), which connects us to Campbell River and Highway #19, winds around Upper Campbell Lake bringing you through spectacular Strathcona Provincial Park, British Columbia's oldest provincial park.
Carved from wilderness in the 1960s, the resource-based community of Gold River is located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, 90 km west of Campbell River. This area is the traditional territory of the Mowachaht and Muchalaht people of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation. When Gold River was built in 1965, it was Canada's first all-electric town, and the first in Canada to have all wiring underground. The District of Gold River was incorporated on August 26, 1965 and reincorporated as the Village Municipality of Gold River on January 1, 1972.
Taking advantage of its deep water and abundant forests, the Village of Gold River developed as a prototypical logging and pulp/paper industry community. Gold River quickly sprang into prosperity and established excellent community facilities. When shifting world markets brought the mill closure on February 16, 1999, a new era was born, the village has capitalized on its idealistic setting among picturesque mountains, lakes, rivers, ocean and forests developing tourism and sport fishing as economic supports.
Gold River serves as base for such famous activities as the Nootka Island Trail, hiking the Elk River Trail climbing Crest Mountain (Vancouver Island's highest peak), Crest Creek climbing crags, MV Uchuck III, just to name a few.
Gold River also serves as a historic point, being the easiest access point to the famous Yuquot, or "Friendly Cove", where British explorer Captain James Cook first set ashore. There Cook met the Mowachaht native band's chief, Chief Maquinna.
Gold River takes it's name from Rio del Oro, explored in the late 1780's by Spaniards searching for gold.
Today the Village of Gold River is a small community of 1,267 (2011 Census). The Village nestles on the western edge of Strathcona Park, British Columbia's oldest provincial park. It is also road access to Nootka Sound. Surrounded by steep tree-clad mountains, nourished by cold, clear rivers and lakes teeming with fish, basking in the temperate west coast climate, the Village of Gold River is indeed a paradise.
Distances from major centres:
Campbell River - 91 km
Courtenay - 136 km
Nanaimo - 243 km
Victoria - 355 km
Annual Average Temperature = 10 Celsius
January: 1 to 4 Celsius
extreme: -19 Celsius
July: 15 to 18 Celsius
extreme: 37 Celsius
Rain 104" average
Snow 5' 2" average