The history of Campbell River and Region is one of exploration, discovery, extreme fortitude, pioneering, entrepreneurship, and independence. The people of the region are proud of their heritage and the relics of the past can be found within them as the cultural stories and traditions have been passed on for generations.
Source: Arts, Culture & Heritage, Tourism Campbell River & Region 2011
Long before the arrival of the European settlers to the Campbell River area, the Coast Salish First Nations people occupied the shores of the Campbell River, living off the riches of the Salmon and the natural lush surrounding lands. The Salmon was a spiritual symbol to the First Nations people as they also referred to the Salmon as "K'u ta 'la”. Today the Salmon is still a cultural and spiritual icon to the First Nations people of the region. The Coast Salish in the early 1800's left their villages and moved further south on Vancouver Island to what is now Comox and Qualicum. Later, the north island Laichwiltach people from the Kwaguilth First Nations in Alert Bay migrated south into the vacated villages in Campbell River and at Cape Mudge on Quadra Island.
People say in the early 1500's the first European, Sir Francis Drake, arrived just south of Campbell River. Later, the word spread and in 1792 Captain George Vancouver landed on Quadra Island and Captain James Cook explored and landed nearby, in the Nootka Sound in 1778.
Cape Mudge on Quadra Island was named after Captain Vancouver's First Lieutenant, Zachary Mudge serving aboard the H.M.S Discovery. Many of the names of the Campbell River area occurred in the 1860's when a British Captain Richards, aboard the H.M.S. Plumper, was assigned to name and chart the area. The name Campbell River is said to be named after Captain Richards’ staff surgeon, Dr. Samuel Campbell. It was not until the 1880's that the first European settlers seriously started to set up shop in the Campbell River area.
As early as 1911 conservation efforts had begun in the surrounding areas. Campbell River was fast becoming a big concern as it grew. The concern fostered into creating Strathcona Provincial Park to protect the environmental forests and wildlife of the area. Strathcona Park was British Columbia's first provincial park, spanning over 600,000 acres (250,000 hectares) and is to this day Vancouver Island's largest park.
The Elk Falls John Hart Dam hydro development project changed the landscape of the Campbell River area in 1948, thus creating what was needed for the community to prosper. In 1952 the Elk Falls Pulp and Paper Mill opened its doors on the point of Discovery Passage. Today it is one of Campbell River's largest employers.
Originally incorporated as a 'Village' in 1947, and later designated as a 'Municipal District', Campbell River received official 'City' status in 2005 (About Campbell River).
Source: History, About Campbell River, The City of Campbell River
About Campbell River. (n.d.). Retrieved 02 09, 2012, from City of Campbell River:
http://www.campbellriverbc.ca/Live/Area History/History of the City/Documents/HISTORY.pdf
Arts, Culture & Heritage. (2011). Retrieved 02 09, 2012, from Tourism Campbell River & REgion: