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"Johnstone Strait Pageant"

I believe the phrase, “Marine Highway”, to be an apt description for the flow of ocean traffic going down our Inside Passage. The Alaskans have owned up to that name to describe their section of this wonderful fiord-like waterway that rambles along, through the world’s most incredible scenery, from Seattle to Skagway. Sheltered from the open ocean for 95% of its length, it is really quite unique in the physical geography of the world. There is simply no place on earth like it!

If this is indeed a Marine Highway, then North Islanders live on the Freeway section of it, for all the traffic that cruises the full length of the Inside Passage must travel through Johnstone Strait. That means any vessels, from Skagway to Alert Bay wanting to travel south in the sheltered waters of the Inside Passage have no choice but to pass through it!

It’s quite fascinating to sit along its shores and watch the traffic going by, especially during the summer season with tourism in full swing. The array of cruising boats, yachts and ships is quite astounding, not to mention the increase in local traffic. On one summer day, while painting there, I counted a dozen cruise ships, many of them almost running into each other, obviously on similar schedules.

Johnstone Strait is also the Marine Highway for whales, mostly Orcas, for along its shores is the world famous Robson Bight, now a marine reserve, where the Orcas have congregated for centuries to socialize and rub on its pebbled beach.

The accompanying painting was done along the shore of Telegraph Cove Ventures, looking north across Johnstone Strait through Weynton Passage. In the distance you can spot the familiar shape of Stubbs Island, a favourite diving place for our underwater buffs. The Orcas in the foreground are another familiar sight that I often include in my seascapes. Frequently I am asked by a novice whale watcher, “Do that many whales really swim together?” Last week, on one of our whale watching tours, they spotted a megapod of about one hundred and twenty! I would need a big canvas to paint that pod!

Henschel Fine Arts
Henschel Fine Arts


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