Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Society board members and staff at a recent open house event and exhibit. (Westerly File Photo)

HERITAGE COLUMN: Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum in Summer

Walking tours every Saturday in Aug. at 10 a.m.

Dave Griffiths bravely lifts the mug to his mouth. It’s 1985 and the 114-year- old brew touches his lips. Griffiths grimaces. From then on, it was solidified; a dedicated band of historians had a mission to protect, preserve, and taste the history of Clayoquot Sound.

This beer, salvage from the shipwreck the Hera, was one of the first artifacts in the Tonquin Foundation collection. The group later became a Maritime Discovery Center, and now the Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Society museum and archives carries on that same mission—minus the taste-testing.

While most of our exhibits are a little more hands- off, we remain dedicated to making history as tangible as possible by incorporating multimedia displays, creating replicas, and facilitating interactive programming with school groups.

The anchor from the Hera is one of the stops on our anchor school tour and can be seen in Grice Park, near First Street Dock. We also offer summer walking tours for all ages, leaving from the Whalers on the Point Guest House – HI Tofino, at 10 a.m. every Saturday through July and August.

The Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum has now been open since the summer of 2016. Since then, we’ve been adding exhibits such as Nikkei Heritage in Clayoquot Sound, Commercial Whaling, Tla-o-qui-aht Pre-contact History, and more. The current focus is ‘Tofino Through Time,’ an exhibit begun by the late Barry Campbell. Aerial photographs help to tell the story of the physical evolution of downtown Tofino and Chesterman Beach area.

READ: SS Princess Sophia: Pacific Northwest’s ‘Unknown’ Titanic (Westerly News, May 4, 2018)

We continue to expand this exhibit by adding scrapbooks, artworks, oral history recordings, quotes, and photographs to the display. Community members are invited to contribute to this exhibit by sharing memories in a scrap-book, participating in an oral history interview, or by sending us digital photographs to display.

To stay up-to-date with museum activities, join our monthly e-newsletter. Another way to learn about local history remotely is to read our blog at

Each month, we suggest a book on local heritage and write about a local character, event, or industry. This month, read about Sing Lee who operated the first general store in Tofino, established circa 1901. Other notable personalities in our local history are Chief Joseph and Queen Mary. The pair are remembered in various written and verbal accounts and were well-liked and respected throughout the Sound. We will be writing an article about the couple for one of our future blog postings.

If you have photographs or stories about Mary and Joseph that you would like the museum to share, please contact; likewise, if there are other people or events you would like us to highlight. Museum summer hours are 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday.

Ava Hansen is the Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum’s Operations Manager.

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