Salmon River Estuary

About Sayward

Welcome to the seaside community of Sayward.  The Village of Sayward is perched at the base of Newcastle Ridge and the mouth of the mighty Salmon River at Kelsey Bay, one of BC's most important estuaries.  Sayward is in the unceded Traditional Territory of the K’omoks, We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum First Nations.  Approximately 350 people call Sayward home, and residents of Sayward are happy to share the spectacular natural environment of northern Vancouver Island with visitors. The Village of Sayward, and in particular, the Kelsey Bay area is very important to the K'omoks First Nation people.  Members of the K'omoks First Nation and their relations have been present in the area since time immemorial, and the residents of Sayward are proud to live, work and play here.  Sayward has overlapping territories with various degrees of interest by Wei Wai Kum First Nation and We Wai Kai Nation. These First Nations are all members of the Kwakwaka'wakw people, the traditional inhabitants of the coastal areas of northeastern Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia.  In the 2016 census, 3,670 people self-identified as having Kwakwaka’wakw ancestry.  Learn more here: 


Home - Wei Wai Kum First Nation

Home - We Wai Kai Nation

Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Logging continues to be an important industry, so plan to spend some time walking the scenic working waterfront trail.  Bring a picnic lunch and watch the colourful  boom boats do their work.  Western Forest Products operates a dry land log sort on one portion of the Sayward waterfront so while you are there, catch a glimpse of the marine traffic moving up and down Johnston Strait, everything from cruise ships to container traffic, and in between, a wide range of orca, sea lions, eagles, ravens, hawks, grizzly and black bear that pass through our community on a regular basis. Take a boat out to view Yorke Island, the site of one of Canada's important military fortresses, just six kilometers northeast of Kelsey Bay.  On a clear day you may still see the remnants of the fortress which during WW2 hosted a range of ammunition, searchlights, vessels and close to 500 troops. 

All of these reasons are why visitors come to Sayward and why tourism continues to grow and gain importance in the Sayward Valley.  Other outdoor recreational opportunities include caving, hiking, whale watching, fishing, and paddling your way down the Salmon and White Rivers.  Why miss out? 

The Wharf at Kelsey Bay

In the past, Sayward – and other communities on the northern end of Vancouver Island – were only easily accessible by water. After World War II ended, a gravel road was built that connected Sayward to Campbell River.

The Wharf at Kelsey Bay was the southern terminus for the BC Ferries Inside Passage route until 1978, when Highway 19 was paved and extended north to Port Hardy, where the ferry terminal was relocated. The wharf has since become a convenient stopping point for sport fishing and eco-tourism. Fresh seafood is often available from one or more boats tied up at the federal wharf.


Kelsey Bay Harbour is the only small craft harbour located between Campbell River and Port McNeill on Johnstone Strait. It offers a loading ramp, a derrick, and a wave reduction system. A boat launch ramp is located nearby, just off of the old BC Ferries’ parking lot.