Linnaea School, Cortes Island
I stopped by Linnaea School, which you might pass by on your way to Squirrel Cove or Cortes Bay. It is for K – 8. I talked to a Linnaea School graduate on the ferry, and he said that after you graduate, you have to go to school in Cambell River.
Linnaea School has about 60 students. The entire middle school (grades 6 -8) is 13 students. There is one student – a girl – in the 8th grade.
The entire school does things together. I saw pictures of their annual play, for example, on the wall. Apparently they write the scripts and music together. They seem to have quite elaborate costumes. Everyone, from the tots to the young teens participate. This year they had some story from India, and everyone had fabulous saris and similar Indian garb. Last year they did tales from King Arthur.
On Earth Day, the entire school will take a field trip to the beach to do beach clean up.
The school is located on the Linnaea Land Trust. It is the only building on Hague Lake. The rest of the lake is a provincial park.
I thought it was really interesting looking around the school. All the adults there (teachers? administrators?) were very welcoming and invited me to poke around and see what was what. I’m sure if you rode by, they’d let you take a look, too.
Whaletown, Cortes Island
The main reason to go to Whaletown is to get off or catch the ferry. There isn’t anything else here, other than some sanicans. The hills you have to climb to get here (and leave) are enormously steep. While the view from the ferry terminal itself is quite picturesque, the views along the way are pretty much unremarkable, especially considering how beautiful the rest of the island is.
Cortes Bay, Cortes Island
- boat launch and mooring.
- sign with various warnings regarding marine safety.
- small rock in the middle of the bay with a light on it
- portion of an old-growth log that can be a make-shift bench or bicycle parking facility.
Why go here:
- moderately picturesque view
On the approach to Cortes Bay from the south, one encounters a sign that says, “Steep Hill”. This sign is most alarming; the island is made up almost entirely of steep hills. What precipice are they going to send you down? The reality is, it is no worse a hill than any other; it’s just that it takes a short jog to the left as you come down. Later, after talking to Cortes resident, I found out that an elderly person missed the turn a few years back and was killed – hence the sign.
Squirrel Cove, Cortes Island
Just off of the main road, there’s a general store. It has a basement, intriguingly labeled “Hardware”, but I did not check it out. There’s also a cafe (closed). Fuel for both marine and terrestrial vehicles are available here. There’s a boat launch. There’s a small tourist information board about the local shellfish industry, among the First Nations people, the European invaders, and today.
Turk Road, which is just off of the main road, leads to the Klahoose First Nation settlement. The homes here are neatly maintained, in contrast to most American Indian reservations I”ve been on. At the end of Turk Road is the Klahoose community building; and an old white steepled church, built and now abandoned by well-meaning missionaries.
Why go here: the general store provides the only services in the area. The hardware portion might have resources for you if you had a mechanical problem with your bike. The overwhelming reason to go to Squirrel Cove, though, is the beautiful views of Desolation Sound. I thought the view from the Tribal Center to be one of the best in all of Cortes Island.
Manson’s Landing, Cortes Island
What’s there: Manson’s Landing is the throbbing heart of Cortes Island. The general store is located in “uptown Manson’s Landing”, a most humorous description, as it implies a downtown Manson’s Landing. The general store is open seven days a week, and has a map posted on its wall if you’re lost. Also in Manson’s Landing: a public library (open afternoons M W F); a cafe (never saw it open); a small bookstore (ditto); a branch of the local credit union, comprising the financial district; a portable labeled something like North Island College; and the Community Hall.
Why go there: there’s more services here than anywhere else on the island.
Generally about Cortes Island:
The roads: Cortes Island roads have poor pavement. It’s 100% chipseal, and not well maintained. The roads are friable at the edges, and have unexpected potholes. The roads generally are narrow: not only is there no shoulder, in many places, considering that the edges have crumbled, there aren’t really two whole lanes. On the road from the ferry terminal to Manson’s Landing, there is a faded yellow stripe, that appears and disappears in a half-hearted sort of way.
The roads are also incredibly steep in places. I believe that they do not have the money to build or maintain bridges except in the direst of places, so roads descend down terrible slopes and then swoop up again; whereas in other places, maybe they’d just put a bridge across the gully.
The upside of Cortes, though, is that there is basically no traffic. I probably would see, coming either direction, on the average of 10 cars/hour. And it is so incredibly quiet on Cortes, you can hear a car coming for at least 20 seconds before it appears, plenty of time to move to the side of the road.
And the drivers that you do see on Cortes are the greatest. Everyone waves to you – and with all five fingers! Everyone is patient. No one is in a hurry, because, really, where is there to go to?
So, what you do is you aim your bike where the road surface is the best, often right down the middle. When you come down one of these steep hills, you’re hanging on to your handlebars for dear life, as the vibration from the chipseal and imperfections in the pavement keep shaking them out of your hands. Then, you go swooping up the other side, pedalling like mad, hoping you’ll make it up some portion of the hill. Gravity only takes you so far, though, and soon you’re grinding your way up in the granniest of granny gears.
I will now proudly state that I never dismounted and walked my bike up any of the hills on the island. YMMV. I didn’t know that I could bicycle at less than 3.5 mph and still keep it upright – did you?
Another upside of Cortes is that there are no dogs. You can hear them barking, but I never was chased down by a single dog. woohoo on that.
A big downside of Cortes is that there are very few services. I ran out of water on my Whaletown ride. Oh well! If you’re going to bike on Cortes, bring food and water with you – do not think that the cafe marked on your tourist map will be open (maybe just in the summer tourist high season?)
A cool thing about Cortes Island is that someone has planted daffodils along the roadsides. So, as you cycle along, you often see these cheerful yellow flowers. Sometimes they are planted in rotting trees stumps, so they are quite visible, at eye level.