Alert Bay, BC, incorporated as a village in 1946, population 445 (2011c), 456 (2006c). The Village of Alert Bay is located on Cormorant Island, off Vancouver Island, 288 km north of Vancouver. The bay, and subsequently the village, was named in 1860 by Captain George Henry Richards after the HMS Alert, a screw corvette that surveyed the area.
Its sheltered bay first attracted Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl), who used the area as a burial ground. The community probably began as a missionary outpost in 1878, although a saltery for salmon was established in 1870. A sawmill was constructed in 1886-87, and by 1896 steamships landed passengers and freight each week and serviced the saltery and a cannery. During World War I the logging industry became important to the war effort.
The bay is one of the most important fishing areas in British Columbia and the community is also supported by logging. However, most residents are employed in the tourism and service sectors. The village has a striking collection of totem poles, including the tallest in the world at 52.7 m. Nearby Robson Bight Ecological Reserve is renowned because killer whales congregate there. East of Alert Bay across Queen Charlotte Strait is the Broughton Archipelago Provincial Marine Park, a maze of islands well-known for deep-sea diving, kayaking and whale watching.