During World War II Coal Harbour was a Canadian Air Forces base for Pacific seaplane patrols, and some of the buildings are still in use today. After the war many of the buildings were bought by BC Packers, and it became a whaling station. It was Canada's last whaling station to cease operations, closing in 1967. From the 1970s to 1996 a near by copper mine brought more business into the community.
Since the closure of the mine, Coal Harbour has become a bedroom community for Port Hardy as well as a launch point for fishermen, boaters and kayakers looking to explore Quatsino Sound and the open waters of the Pacific. There is also seaplane service offering flights to west coast fishing lodges and various work camps as well as some of the water access coastal communities, such as Quatsino.
Quatsino First Nations operates the marina in the community, where there is moorage, fuel, showers and a laundromat. There is also a government dock.
Coal Harbour is a pretty little community and with paved road access from Port Hardy and the rest of Vancouver Island, it is the ideal end of the road before getting on the water.
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