Hard To Pronounce, Harder To Forget
Ucluelet is a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation word meaning ‘ safe harbour’ or ‘ safe landing place.’ The Ucluth peninsula has a significant First Nations history; having been inhabited by the Yuu-tluth-aht people for thousands of years. Since the early days, ‘ Life on the Edge’ has been tied to both land and sea. This was true for the Yuu-tluth-aht First Nations who have stories and legends about living in the Ucluelet area dating back as far back as 4,300+ years ago.
The local First Nations have always been influenced by their environment. The land and the sea gave them food and supported their livelihood and culture. One of the Nuu-chah-nulth’ s primary teachings is ‘ Hishuk ish is’ awalk’ or ‘ Everything is one.’
European explorers first set foot in the Ucluelet area in the late 1770s returning as traders to pursue maritime fur-trading, sealing, and whaling. Settlement didn’ t start until the late 1800s. Among the first documented white settlers in Ucluelet were William and James Sutton in the late 1880s who operated a sawmill and general store. The turn of the 20th century brought the development of a commercial logging and fishing industry. Japanese fishermen [from Steveston, BC] started settling in Ucluelet around 1920.
By the 1950’ s Forestry really started to dominate life on the coast. For close to 40 years forestry provided many families in Ucluelet with a solid income. Historically, and still today, commercial logging and fishing play a part in Ucluelet’ s economy. Ucluelet remains one of the largest ground fishing ports in all of Canada; the predominant species are salmon, halibut, cod, and herring.