Sayward finds its rhythm




The Sayward region displays unparalleled beauty in every direction you look. Elk graze in its fields, eagles soar around its mountains, salmon jump in its rivers, and abundant marine life play in its ocean expanse—yet it’s the people that maintain Sayward’s rhythm.

Sayward Future Society

On December 11, 2000, a non-profit called Sayward Futures Society was formed. This organization owns and operates the Kelsey Bay Wharf where the Oceanview Gallery and Café open seasonally. This is the society’s social enterprise that raises funds for ongoing maintenance of the Wharf and community events such as the Kusam Klimb, Canada Day, and the Christmas Light-up. These are fun, engaging events that gather residents of all ages from throughout the Sayward region and beyond.

The Oceanview Gallery and Café stocks merchandise of local artisans from the Strathcona Regional District and other locales on Vancouver Island. Visitors are suitably impressed by the quality and creativity of the art, jewellery, clothing, or décor, and consistently comment on how welcomed everyone in the area has made them feel.

Sayward, Vancouver Island, BC

Sayward Visitors Centre

On the Wharf is where you will find the Sayward Visitors Centre in what the locals call “Al’s Room,” named for one of Sayward’s friendliest residents, Al Wright, who passed away in 2004. The room was built in his memory as a gift from his family. Al Wright moved to Sayward in the mid-1990s around the same time as a few others from Shearwater on the Central Coast. Settling into his new community, Al had an easy smile for everyone he met and could be seen every single day walking and exploring the area and the Kelsey Bay Estuary. As a trained naturalist, Al would take classes of children, and anyone else interested, through the estuary to share his wealth of knowledge regarding the wildlife, fauna, and conservation efforts, as well as spending hours upon hours hunting for mushrooms. Al loved nature and was an avid conservationist who understood the importance of protecting Sayward’s delicate and intertwined ecosystems. He made it his mission to share that knowledge with as many people as possible.

Al’s Room, as the Sayward Visitors Centre, now welcomes the world to Sayward. It is always open—24/7, 365 days with free WIFI, colouring for kids, puzzles, games, brochures, and otherworldly spectacular views. In the summer months, the wharf is filled with people fishing. Kelsey Bay sits at the edge of the Johnstone Strait and the mouth of the Salmon River. As the salmon run gets going, the salmon spend time in Kelsey Bay with its mix of salt and fresh water before heading up the Salmon River—which makes for fabulous fishing right off the wharf. It is a favourite activity for locals, especially young children.

Sayward, Vancouver Island, BC

Mt. H’Kusam

Another resident everyone knows is Bill West-Sells. Moving to Sayward in 1989 to a property at the base of Mt. H’Kusam, Bill quickly realized he needed easier access to his water supply located partway up Springer Peak. He cleared a trail and once completed wondered, “Why stop there?” For nearly 35 years Bill has led the efforts to build and maintain the trail through the forest right to the peak of Mt. H’Kusam. This is his labour of love. In 2004, a group of local citizens (under the Sayward Futures umbrella) launched an annual run called the Kusam Klimb. In 2023, nearly 800 runners from around the globe participated. The 2024 Kusam Klimb takes place on Saturday, June 22, 2024.

Al and Bill are wonderful examples of the type of ingenuity of spirit Sayward attracts, so while you may come for the views, you will stay for the people.