Ecoole is one of a number of historic places along the Alberni Canal famous for their role in the fishing industry—both Indigenous and post-contact.
Ecoole is located on the south side of Sedall Island, across from Boyson Islands and Rainy Bay in the Alberni Inlet. It is approximately 37 kilometres from Port Alberni, at the head of Barkley Sound.
Ecoole was a well-known trading post along the Alberni Canal post-colonial contact, and in 1889 was the site of a dogfish (small shark) oil manufacturing plant.
Butterfield, Mackie & Co. were wholesale fish merchants that helped establish the early fishing industry in the Alberni Canal, according to historian Jan Peterson in her book Journeys: Down the Alberni Canal to Barkley Sound. They built a fish plant in Port Alberni in 1913 before moving to Ecoole Bay in 1916 and operating a fish reduction plant.
Peterson also writes about a strange skeleton discovered at Vernon Bay, between Ecoole and Effingham Inlet, in November 1947. The skeleton was “more than 40 feet in length, unlike anything they had ever seen before,” she wrote of the fishermen that found the skeleton.
“The remains were made up of more than 150 vertebrae, with a flat-skulled head, “like a sheep’s head.” The discovery was written up in the Twin Cities Times on Dec. 8, 1947.
Many books detailing the history of the Alberni Valley are available at the Alberni Valley Museum inside Echo Centre at 4255 Wallace St. Phone 250-720-2863 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
The museum’s digital archive of historical photos numbers around 24,000 and can be found online at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.