Boating on the Arm

Barb and I had been talking about doing a boat trip up Indian Arm for quite a while and that fine day finally arrived. Six of us piled into Paul’s Bell Boy 6 seater for an aquatic trip up the 18 kilometer fjord that is Indian Arm, a tributary of Burrard Inlet.

I had not been up this way since High School, a mighty long time ago I don’t mind telling you. After stowing our lunches, drinks, bags, and coats, we headed away from the dock at Rocky Point, Port Moody, around 9:30, passing several waterside industrial sites that have been in this area for years.

Once past the Barnet Marine Park we turned north and cruised up the waterway, Deep Cove on our left, Belcarra on our right, passing many large waterfront homes, all equipped with their own docks for boats.

Some of these places can be accessed by road but further up the channel, one can only reach them by boat. On the west side, at Cates Park, is the site where the late novelist Malcolm Lowry worked, squatting in Shangri La on the beach, on his novel Under the Volcano. On the east side of the Arm two old BC Hydro power stations can be seen; built in 1903 and expanded in 1914 these power generating stations were Vancouver’s first hydroelectric facilities. Drawing water from Buntzen Lake high on the hills above, these two small plants still provide significant power to the city. Once past the power stations, there are no more buildings to be seen.

After a cruise of about two hours we arrived at Granite Falls, almost at the end of the inlet, a popular destination since the late 1800s when the Union Steamship Company began offering weekend excursions for Vancouver residents. The dock here is very small and only three sides are available for moorage.

One side was already taken up with two large Russian-captained boats, complete with kids, dogs, and barbecues, one held a smaller version of our boat, and the other didn’t have enough room.

We tied up to the smaller boat and made our way to the Granite Falls waterfall, a spectacular cascade of water down the granite rock face. Interestingly, quite a bit of rusty metal junk, including rope and machine parts, was lying around amidst the rocks at the base of the Falls. We wondered what it was and why it was there.

An account of the history of Granite Falls written by Ralph Drew answered these questions:

As early as 1891, the large mountain outcrop of granite rock that gave Granite Falls its
name was being utilized as a source of stone (“Kelly’s Quarry”) for constructing the
grand new buildings in the young city of Vancouver. Granite Falls Quarry was going strong in the late 1930s to 1954 producing jetty rock, riprap and rubble. Indian River Quarries (1955‒1964) operated by McKenzie Barge and Derrick Quarries Limited Co. (1957) Ltd., of Vancouver was under lease in 1960.In 1961 the rock quarry and equipment was tendered ‘For Sale’.

In 1965 the new owners of Harbour Navigation Company, Doug Emery and
Don Clark, commenced work on the Granite Falls Resort, a $250,000 marina
and lodge development to replace the derelict Wigwam Inn. Their plans included dinner and dancing facilities, beer garden, roller skating pad, picnic area and horseshoe pitches. The company vessels MV Hollyburn, MV Harbour Princess and MV Scenic made daily cruises up Indian Arm during the summer months. In October 1972 the
lodge and staff bunkhouse at the Granite Falls Resort was destroyed by a fire of
unknown origin.

In April of 1995, Premier Mike Harcourt announced British Columbia’s newest class ‘A’
provincial park, Indian Arm Provincial Park, a 9,300-hectare arc of land around Indian
Arm, more than 20 times the size of Stanley Park. Today the Indian Arm Park has unserviced plots for camping at the mouth of the river and along the shoreline. For more information and historical pictures of the area, click here

After exploring the Falls, and dipping our toes into the glacial but refreshing water, we had lunch on a concrete structure, likely originally part of the quarry, overlooking the dock. We watched several small boats come and go with day trippers from the city. Across the water we could see the backside of Mount Seymour, on the top of which snow still glistened. On the far shore, the formerly derelict Wigwam Inn is now the private property of the Vancouver Yacht Club, one of their “outposts” at the disposal of club members. After a few pleasant hours we cruised back to Port Moody along the west side of the channel, slowing down in spots to view the waterside homes and boats.

Even his hair is having fun!

See more pics here.


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