Meares Island, 84.8 km2 of dramatic terrain, temperate rain forest and sheltered tidal waters, is 2 km from Tofino, BC, in Clayoquot Sound.
Meares Island, 84.8 km2 of dramatic terrain, temperate rain forest and sheltered tidal waters, is 2 km from Tofino, BC, in Clayoquot Sound. The Indigenous village of Opitsat is on the island. By oral and botanical record, Meares Island's resources were long exploited by the Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka), in particular by the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht peoples. It has ancient western red cedar trees (a backbone of traditional westcoast crafts and technologies) and many other plant species; salmon runs in small rivers; wildlife and waterfowl and abundant intertidal foods, especially in the extensive mud flats of Lemmens Inlet.
Two rugged slopes (792m and 730 m) provide drinking water and a scenic backdrop to Tofino District and, between them, marine habitat suitable for intensive mariculture. It was named (1862) for John Meares.
Timber licences for Meares Island were first granted in 1905 and a small sawmill operated in Mosquito Harbour. In 1955 most of the island's forests were incorporated in 2 Tree Farm Licences, and massive clear-cutting began in the Clayoquot Sound. Following study by a public planning team, MacMillan Bloedel Ltd obtained permits to log on Meares Island, but in November 1984 protesters blocked the first loggers, the 2 bands having declared the island a "tribal park." In 1985, the Nuu-chah-nulth were granted a court injunction to halt logging until their land claim was settled. This issue is now part of comprehensive treaty negotiations between the Nuu-chah-nulth and the province of British Columbia.