Nearby Towns

places for Holbergians to go when they needed a break from the rain

Port McNeill, BC

“Killer Whales” by Larry Weber and “Kayaking with Orca…” by DiscoverSooke

Although my official residence was Holberg, I spent a lot of time as a teenager in Port McNeill.  During the school months, Holberg high school students stayed at North Island Dormitory and attended North Island Secondary School (NISS) in Port McNeill. 

The dorm has since closed, but NISS and Port McNeill continue.  The school’s classrooms and hallways are still just as bright and clean as I remember them from nearly 40 years ago. And Port McNeill continues to be one of the most beautiful coastal locations you’ll see anywhere.

The logging industry isn’t booming anymore, so North Islanders have been finding ways to diversify their economy.  One of those ways has been with services like whale watching.

Check out the whale watching videos in the playlist on the left. The first one is from Port McNeill and the second one is from the town of Sooke, which was my hometown before moving to Holberg. (I don’t have a Sooke page on this site, so I snuck the video in here because it is awesome!)

Port McNeill in the late 70’s

These images are from a Flickr album by Robert Ciavarro:

Port McNeill Today

These images are from a Flickr album by The Province of British Columbia

North Island Secondary School (NISS), Etc.

For me, this was one of the most important places in Port McNeill. It was followed closely by the Dalewood Inn (for hanging out) and the Shop Rite grocery store (for buying junk food).


Backstory to 2006 Tour Video

The NISS classroom shown above (and in the video) belonged to Mr. Gordon Burleson, teacher of Math, Physics, positive thinking, ham radio, the stock market, and beer making.  I’m told that Mr. Burleson retired about 6 years prior to my making it back to his classroom to say “hi!”  To anyone who knows him, it would be no surprise that this is the amazingly funny, engaging, and effective educator who most inspired me to become a teacher. And when I finally got my own classroom, I used every hilarious “Gordie gag” that I could possibly remember.  Many of my students in Alberta and Korea were recipients of the Burleson wit that I so shamelessly copied.

Rationale for the Tour Video’s “Style”

The on the right was made while the faddish comedic character “Borat Sagdiyev” was red hot with a new movie and everyone, including myself, was copying him.  Looking at the video again now, I can only shake my head and ask, “WTF was I thinking?” 

In other words, there really is no rationale for the style of this video.

Port Hardy, BC



Recent photos of two Port Hardy landmarks

Port Hardy in the late 70’s

These images are from a Flickr album by Robert Ciavarro:

Port Hardy Today

These images are from a few unknown sources, as well as a Flickr album by Rick McCharles:

Island Copper Mine (now closed)

Brian Welchman – Port Hardy, BC by WWFnarrative

One memory of Port Hardy is working at the Island Copper Mine (or Utah Mines, as we called it back then). Aside from all the pot smoking in the mill conveyor belt tunnels (just out of camera range, with my supervisor supplying the pot), it was good work experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t stay there very long because I discovered that I could easily double my salary just by working for Rayonier. I believe I worked at the mine shortly after high-school for only about three to six months, then went to work in the bush for Rayonier. (Unfortunately, all the alcohol and cannabis made it difficult to by 100% sure of the exact sequence..)

During those months at the mine, I must have worked for the gentleman (Brian Welchman) in the video on the left. He managed the Island Copper Mine for its entire life and also served on Port Hardy’s city council. He does an excellent job of summing up the realities of life on the North Island, which is why he is presented here.

Another memory: Port Hardy is the first bit of civilization that anyone sees when they drive the logging roads from Holberg. During my career as a Holberg logging camp cat swamper, my drinking buddies and I would make frequent “beer-runs” into Port Hardy–even when we had to work the next day. As soon as we got into town, we’d go straight to either the Seagate or Thunderbird, down 8 or 10 beer while ogling hotties, then pick up a few cold off-sale cases and drive back to Holberg. Somehow, I managed to survive those idiotic times.


The now nonexistent Island Copper site (near Port Hardy) where I worked after graduating from NISS:

I didn’t own a camera at the time, so these excellent photos come from Robert Ciavarro’s “Port Hardy Island Copper” set on his Flickr site.  

Some Excellent Videos of the Pit:

As Michael Jacobsen says in his YouTube channel, this giant hole is now filled with ocean water.

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In Memoriam

Port Hardy’s Most Sentimental Landmark: The SeaGate Hotel

The Seagate was the only “waterhole” in town for many years–until the Thunderbird Inn and Quarterdeck Inn were built. Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe that I wasted so much time and money there. What’s even harder to believe is that it took so long for The Seagate to finally be brought down.

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