Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park is a stone’s throw from the city of Nanaimo. Well, it’s slightly further, perhaps two throws, but its proximity to the Hub City is
advantageous for a number of reasons from club campouts to a relaxing kayak-beach day. For a casual’s day paddle you can circumnavigate the island in a few hours after launching from the Brechin boat ramp.
There are also other nearby local launch sites, shortening the trip across Newcastle channel to Mark Bay in a matter of a half hour. It’s fun exploring the bays and rock outcroppings along its coast, but it’s much more interesting when you tie the local history of Newcastle Island into either a paddle or a hike.
In December, 1868, a notorious crime was committed by a Kanaka, or a Hawaiian descendant to the Nanaimo area. Inside Peter Kakua’s house were several bodies including an infant. Peter was found a day or two later sitting by a fire on Newcastle Island with another man. Peter tried to escape but was quickly captured. On a return canoe trip with a constable and two First Nations guides he worked his hands loose, jumped into the freezing waters and then attempted to overturn the boat. However, he was smacked by a paddle and recaptured. He was eventually tried and hung in Victoria. Because he was neither native or Caucasian no one knew where to bury him—Kanaka Bay ended up being his resting place until 1899 when his casket was dug up by the a coal mining company. Inside the casket only a nice pair of preserved leather boots were found! Since then a tale has circulated among campers on the islands about the ghost of Kanaka. Has anyone seen him? Please keep an eye out on your next stopover or campout at this BC marine trail site.