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in half across its entire length of 450 kilometres into two

parts that differ completely geographically: a charming,

undulating east coast and a wild, mountainous west coast.

Vancouver Island has only 750,000 inhabitants, the majori-

ty of whom live in the capital of Victoria at the southern side

of the island. Apart from a few other small towns, the island

is otherwise an infinite, untouched natural stronghold. An

Eldorado for nature lovers and a revelation for every inve-

terate urban citizen.

The car ferry quickly takes us from Horseshoe Bay to the

other side, in an hour and a half. We take Highway 4 that

crosses the island in an almost straight line and leads us

through endless cedar forests, past deep green lakes and

grey mountainsides to the rugged west coast. We stop at

a place that is appropriately called

Cathedral Grove

. Here

stand the largest, most powerful Douglas firs that can be

found on earth. The trees are the remnants of the primeval

forest that covered the entire island several centuries ago

and many of them are at least 800 years old. They tower

high above us like inaccessible, wooden supreme beings.

Here, a person immediately learns what humility is.

Living on the edge

Ucluelet. We have no idea how to pronounce the name of

the port city. But when we are told that it is 'joe-kloe-let', the

word runs smoothly off the tongue after a few attempts. In

the native Nootka language, the name means 'safe haven'.

When we see how the Pacific manifests itself here with a

huge display of power, this does not seem like a luxury.

According to Emily Carr, a Canadian painter and writer,

Ucluelet is: 'A place where wind, rain, forest and sea meet

the sunshine'. Very poetic language, but now that we are

there we understand perfectly what she means.

The town, which in the past only housed lumberjacks and

fishermen, has found a new calling in recent decades

and is now a popular tourist attraction. It is one of the

t r a v e l i n g

Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island