Hesquiat Harbour & Cougar Annie's Garden

  Canadian Wilderness Retreat


Dates upon request

6-day wilderness retreat, deep nature study

Minimum 12, maximum 20 participants

Boat Basin Harbour
Boat Basin Harbour

View of boat basin
View of boat basin

Float plane
Float plane

Boat Basin Harbour
Boat Basin Harbour


Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.

Edward Abbey

The Call of the Wild


Disconnect. No phones, no electricity. Reconnect with the voice of nature in one of the most beautiful settings anywhere in the world.


Discover the call of the wild in a remote wilderness retreat on the west coast of Vancouver Island, accessible only by boat or float plane. Profound silence, virgin rain forest, pristine lakes and breath-taking sandy beaches with the savours and flavours of locally foraged and cooked delicacies, combine with daily pedagogical events, hikes and walks.


Accompanied by a professional naturalist and environmental activist, adjunct professor of environmental studies at the University of Victoria in Canada, this retreat will allow you to experience deep nature in a relaxing, comfortable and exquisitely beautiful environment. 


Tofino is the departure point to Hesquiat Harbour and the Boat Basin Foundation, with return access by water taxi (about 2 hours).


Relaxed, Active, Dynamic


From kayaking, hiking and swimming to foraging, fishing, nature training and campfire cooking, you will discover an entirely different way to live while learning a range of skills that will serve you for the rest of your life.


The Boat Basin Foundation is a non-profit organisation whose objectives of the Foundation are to maintain Cougar Annie's garden for future generations and to encourage appreciation and education in temperate rainforest ecology.

Click here for complete Day-dy-Day Description and What is Included and What to Know

*Prices are based in CAD$ land costs and therefore subject to change

Boat Basin


Our location at Boat Basin offers a unique setting for temperate rainforest studies at the newly constructed Temperate Rainforest Field Study Centre. Located at the northern reaches of Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island's West Coast, Hesquiat Harbour is 55 kilometres (33 miles) north of Tofino.


The Temperate Rainforest Field Study Centre is many miles from a connected road system, and can be reached only by air or very occasionally by water. Far from the distractions of modern living, the Centre offers unequalled access to this part of the coast.

Hesquiat Community
Salt Spring Island is the jewel of the Southern Gulf Islands and renowned as the organic capital of Canada. It is nestled up against the east side of Vancouver Island and is about half way between Nanaimo and Victoria, the capital city of BC. Our focus here is direct contact with nature and preparing for the experience of wilderness camping in Bamfield. We will also enjoy the intense flavours of farm-fresh local produce that is sustainably grown and begin applying the experience we gain from our wilderness training to cook on an open fire. Though we are camping at an official provincial campsite right on the sea, the presence of nature is keenly felt and all around us we will see evidence of nature's grandeur. 



Seeing whales, bears, wolves, eagles, osprey, seals and countless other wild animals is a highlight of this trip and we are careful to respect the species that we encounter.

Cougar Annie's Garden
In 1915, Ada Annie Rae-Arthur moved with her husband, Willie Rae-Arthur to Boat Basin, 34 miles north of Tofino, on Vancouver Island's West Coast.

Upon arrival she began to clear a five-acre garden on a tract of pre-empted land in the rainforest. Here she raised her family and gradually established her nursery business. She opened a tiny general store in her house, catering to the sparse population of Hesquiat Harbour, and later a post office.

Cougar Annie's house still remains in her garden, slowly collapsing now, returning to the soil.

Today the garden consists of a five-acre clearing, criss-crossed with over two kilometres of meandering pathways and dotted with outbuildings that once housed goats and chickens. Resurrected from a tangle of salal, Scotch broom, and salmonberry, this garden has endured for one hundred years.

The survival and the continuity of the garden make it an important heritage site. No other pioneer homestead in Clayoquot Sound remains in private hands; no other garden of this scope exists on the West Coast.
Nature training

Fishing on the open sea


One wild salmon fishing outing in a sailboat or canoes is included in the tour and will undoubtedly provide us with one of the greatest taste experiences of the trip - campfire cooked wild salmon. 

Field Study Centre


The Temperate Rainforest Field Study Centre rests on the ridge overlooking the garden. The Field Study Centre hosts nature lovers keen to learn about the rich natural history of Clayoquot Sound.

Six cabins are situated on a ridge above Rae Lake, looking over Cougar Annie's Garden and out to Hesquiat Harbour. Up to eighteen people can sleep comfortably in these cabins.

Each cabin has a view of the harbour and a small deck. Rugged elevated boardwalk trails wind through the forest connecting all of the structures of the Field Study Centre.









Central Hall is where people meet, study and dine, gathered around the 27 foot yellow cedar table and the wood stove. Groups prepare their own meals on the kitchen's propane stove. Every group is expected to be largely self-sufficient.










All of the buildings are made from western red cedar, selectively harvested and milled on the foundation's property.

Our facilities are limited due to its remote setting. Running water is rudimentary, and there is no electricity. Forget your cellphone, it won't work out here; don't expect to receive or send e-mail; and come prepared to enjoy our artistically designed outhouses!

Geoffrey Finch

Originally from Victoria BC, Geoffrey grew up on Vancouver Island and has been exploring the wild since his youth. He created the 'Hesquiat Harbour Retreat' tour in order to instill a better appreciation of the wonders of nature in people and to help them reconnect with the wild. He is a passionate cook and explorer and also the director of Taste Tours. With 30 years background in professional tour operating, he specialises in ecological tourism with a particular focus on wine and gastronomy. Geoffrey has operated all of the 'Youth Taste Awakening' and 'Finding the Wild' tours, has a rich knowledge of the local flora and fauna and has personally tested and visited all of the places we'll visit. His personal contacts along with the best local guides will assure that your experience is unique & personalised.

Briony Penn

One of Canada’s leading environmentalists, Briony is a geographer from Saltspring Island, BC.  Briony has lived most of her life on the shores of the Salish Sea, and helped initiate the sea’s official naming. She is an adjunct professor at the School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria and has spent the last 20 years as an award-winning environmental writer, educator, naturalist, broadcaster, artist and lecturer.  
A pioneer of barefoot mapping, she has created maps and led workshops assisting communities to map their cherished places for nearly two decades, culminating in several books including Islands in the Salish Sea: A Community Atlas, nominated for the BC Book Awards.  
Briony is the mother of two teenage boys and lives on Saltspring Island in an ecohouse she designed.