HISTORY OF Ucluelet’S NAME AND CLAYOQUOT SOUND
The namesake of the village of Ucluelet is Captain Vincente Tofiño. In the summer of 1792, commanders Dionisio Alcalá Galiano and Cayetano Valdés of the Spanish navy sailed along Vancouver Island. They coined Clayoquot Sound’s southernmost inlet as Tofiño Inlet, in honor of Captain Vincent Tofiño.
Vincente Tofiño was a rear admiral in the Spanish navy. He was a renowned astronomer and mathematician. Towards the end of his career he was the King’s hydrographer. Between 1783-1788, Vincente Tofiño charted the ports and coasts of Spain and the shore of North Africa.
The current townsite of Ucluelet was officially established in 1909 on the Esowista peninsula, taking its’ name from Ucluelet Inlet. The first logging road opened in 1959, but the establishment of the Pacific Rim National Park, in 1971, really opened the door for international tourism to Ucluelet. The recognition of Clayoquot Sound by the United Nations as a UNESCO Biosphere Reservein, January 2000, is the region’s most recent international distinction. It recognized the area as one of unparalleled natural and cultural riches and has remained largely unchanged.
Ucluelet is located in a geographical region called “Clayoquot Sound” on Vancouver Island. It is compromised of 400,000 hectares of land and marine inlets. They all drain into a central marine catchment area.
Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations were the first inhabitants of Clayoquot Sound. The word “Clayoquot” comes from the word “Tla-o-qui-at”, meaning different people or people of Clayoqua. The Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations are known to have occupied this territory for thousands of years. The Nuu-chah-nulth fished for salmon, cod, halibut and shellfish. They hunted sea lions, seals and whales. Their population reached 100,000 prior to the arrival of the Europeans and their decimating diseases. Their arts, stories, songs and culture have survived and are now undergoing a powerful resurgence.
In 1995, the population of Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations inhabiting Tla-o-qui-at Reserves (English term is Clayoquot Reserves) was 618. They continue to contribute to local economies through fishing and tourism.
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
There are many festivals and events to take part in during the entire year. They include, world renowned, March’s Pacific Rim Whale Festival, November’s Ucluelet Oyster Festival, May’s Shore Bird Festival, and June’s Ucluelet Food & Wine Festival. June 21st is Canada’s Aboriginal Day. The festivities in Ucluelet include native song, dance, storytelling and arts’ and crafts’ demonstrations. Check our Calendar of Events for all the dates.
Clayoquot Sound welcomes between 750,000 and a million visitors annually.
SIGHTS AND RECREATION
Every year in March about 25,000 grey whales pass through Clayoquot Sound en route from Baja to Alaska. If you would like to learn more about the whales and check out local artifacts, you will want to visit the Ucluelet Whale Centre. It’s small, but free.
Every April and May hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop to feast themselves on Clayoquot Sounds’ nourishing mudflats and sandy beaches before following the whales north.
Then, comes the salmon. Millions of salmon, five different species in all, feed in the inshore and offshore waters throughout the summer before the fall rains come. In the fall, they swim up the rivers and streams to spawn.
The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada is a must see. It faces the open Pacific Ocean and is backed by the Vancouver Island Range. The park presents the rich natural and cultural heritage of Canada’s west coast. The wet climate here produces bountiful and diverse intertidal and sub tidal areas. These are interwoven with a long and dynamic history of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, and European explorers and settlers. Check our Ucluelet Beaches page and our Ucluelet Hiking Trails page for many great exploring opportunities.
Clayoquot Sound is known as one of the wettest places in North America. The winter months in Ucluelet are mild and wet, loosely averaging 400mm/16in of rainfall monthly. Summer is warm and relatively dry, averaging 120mm/4.7in of rain monthly. The temperatures are moderated by the sea. It’s rarely very hot or very cold.
Daily maximum temperatures during the warmest months rarely exceed 20°C/68°F. Nor do they drop below 1.5°C/35°F in the coldest.