Cabins Now Available on 2nd Ship – Bateman & Canadian Geographic Expedition

Great Bear Rainforest Expedition with Robert Bateman and Canadian Geographic, June 19-27, 2014

The second ship is now available for booking.

Enjoy your private cabin aboard the classic, coastal ship MV Columbia III.

The first ship, the SV Maple Leaf, is now full.

There are just 6 places available on the Columbia III.

Below you’ll find information about this beautiful vessel.

The Ship & Accommodations

Columbia III is a comfortable and beautiful ship.

The woodwork on her interior gleams, and her furnace and fireplace keep the ship cozy and warm.

In her main salon, two large settees provide spacious seating for reading and socializing, or just watching the velvety-green coast slide past the windows.

Her wheelhouse is a genial place to sit with the crew and and learn about the navigation and surroundings.

Her private cabins have either two comfortable beds or a comfortable double bed, plus a washstand. The three heads (washrooms) on board all have hot running water and two have showers.

Her indoor dining area is the perfect place to reflect on the day’s adventures over superb food freshly prepared in the galley and a glass of wine.

On deck, she has plenty of places to sit and enjoy the wildlife and scenery.

See more photos of the shipAsk about the trip |  Read about the trip Get brochure

About the Great Bear Rainforest Expedition Cruise Jun 19-27

This expedition cruise offers an up-close experience of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest.

Your notable guides include Maple Leaf Adventures’ local crew, staff of Canadian Geographic, and special guest naturalists Robert Bateman and Birgit Freybe Bateman, who look forward to sharing their home coast with you.

Spaces are very limited: maximum 7 guests per ship. This gives you amazing access and personal attention.

In addition to the features below, this trip also includes local airfare and transfers and travel local travel arrangements as well as the sustainability fee. (These are extra on our other trips, but are included in this trip’s price, for your added convenience.)

Trip highlights include:

  • cruising fjords and channels aboard beautiful, historic, small, coastal ships;
  • bear and other wildlife viewing;
  • rainforest and wildflower ecosystem walks;
  • visiting small coastal communities;
  • cultural history;
  • visit with whale researchers to discuss recent discoveries;
  • whale watching;
  • exploring west coast islands and beaches;
  • warm care and attention from your expert and friendly local crew;
  • personalized guidance;
  • superb meals and camaraderie aboard small ships.

Proceeds from this trip support the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and coastal research and conservation.

Unlike other trips, the price for this trip includes local flights from and to Vancouver airport, the sustainability fee, flight booking and arrangements, a guide at the airport and other special-to-this-trip arrangements.

June 19-27, 9 days / 8 nights, $9995

Depart & return: Vancouver, BC

Inquire about this trip |  Read about this tripGet the brochure (pdf)

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Maple Leaf Chef Time Lapse

A fun time-lapse as Maple Leaf chef James Maine prepares dinner in the galley.
(30 seconds)

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The Real Alexander MacLaren – Who Had Maple Leaf Built

By Maureen Gordon

The MacLaren brothers in about 1895, with Alexander seated in the middle. Another picture we published, of the family aboard the SV Maple Leaf, does not contain Alexander as we previously thought.

There’s a story that begins with a man skating on a frozen river at night, being chased by wolves.

The man was alone, heading home through the forest and countryside of Buckingham, Quebec, after working many miles up river from town. It’s a story Alex MacLaren liked to tell his grandchildren, and the man in the story was himself.

As the animals loped along the river near him, Alex said he braked in a hockey stop, and the wolves went skidding past him as they tried to brake, too. Then Alex accelerated past the wolves in their skidding disarray. Obviously, he got home.

Whether this is the truth or embellished, it is a little insight into the businessman and family man who commissioned the SV Maple Leaf to be built.

One of his grandsons, John, recounted the story to Kevin and me this winter, when we visited Buckingham, the home of the MacLaren family since the mid-1800s.

At Maple Leaf Adventures, we knew some of Alex’s business accomplishments, including the branch of the family business that he set up on the British Columbia coast. (Another story, for another time.) But we knew so little about the man himself. We even had the wrong photograph of him in our history pages!

Then this winter, in our too-short visit with John Bogie, James MacLaren, and Tim and Audrey Kenny in the Ottawa valley, as well as historians Michel and MaryLu Riberdy, we learned about Alexander as a business leader and adventurer, from a family of similar entrepreneurial and adventurous people.

James MacLaren

Alex’s father, James MacLaren, for example, developed a very successful lumber company, and then was a major investor in CPRail and the building of the railroad across Canada. It was the railroad that resulted in the rise of Vancouver as an economic centre, and it was the railroad that Alex and his family used to travel between Vancouver (and the Maple Leaf) and Buckingham.

Alex’s father James was also was the biggest funder of a new bank in 1875, the Bank of Ottawa, created by lumber business people in the area. The bank was founded because the conservative lending policies of existing banks frustrated the region’s lumber entrepreneurs. The new bank was referred to as the Lumberman’s Bank. It was successful and James was president of the bank (one of his many business interests) until his death. Quite an example to follow. (You can read more about James’ extraordinary life here.)

Alex was also an adventurer who liked to succeed, in hobbies as well as in business. In addition to having the most expensive, fastest racing yacht on the BC coast in the Maple Leaf, Alex had racehorses.

One of them, known as Larabie the Great, held a world record in sulky racing and, when Alex sold it, Larabie went on to win the New York horse show.

There is one final story to share today, about the hospitality of Alexander and his wife Annie.

Sometimes in winter, Alex would skate the 35-odd kilometres up the river from Buckingham to Ottawa for meetings. In the evening, when the meetings were over, Alex would contact the house from the city, and let Annie know that 110 of the businesspeople were coming down for a late-night supper.

The MacLarens' family home in winter.

As the people piled into sleighs under blankets and furs to travel to Buckingham, Annie and her staff would ready the house and put on a spread of food and drink. Then 110 people would arrive in the night and feast on the MacLaren’s hospitality.

Although we at Maple Leaf Adventures only welcome 110 people on special occasions, such as open houses, we certainly relate to the love of hosting people for good food and a good time.

It’s nice to know that is something the Maple Leaf has been part of from the beginning.

Stay tuned for additional excerpts of the SV Maple Leaf‘s history, in this, her 110th birthday year.

Read about the SV Maple Leaf

Learn about adventure cruises in BC and Alaska with Maple Leaf Adventures

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How Much Time Do We Spend Ashore? – FAQ

Q: How Much Time Do We Spend Ashore on a Maple Leaf Adventures Expedition Cruise?

A: Our expedition cruises are designed to give you an exceptional experience of the natural and cultural history of the British Columbia and Alaska coast.

So our trips include plenty of time ashore in various coastal environments:

  • rainforest
  • dry forest
  • remote sandy beaches
  • rocky beaches with intertidal life
  • wildflower meadows
  • bear meadows
  • hot springs
  • coastal villages and towns
  • special cultural sites
  • and even recently-exposed rock revealed by a retreating glacier

Depending on the area and the day’s agenda, we’ll typically go ashore between 1 and 3 times a day, for between 1 and 3 hours at a time. Some trips are longer, too.

Some shore trips are guided explorations, such as viewing bear signs and habitat in a bear meadow, while others involve free time for you to explore on your own.

In addition, we spend time exploring in our zodiacs and (optionally) kayaks :

  • bays full of islands
  • passes rich in intertidal life
  • wildlife colonies
  • icebergs and tidewater glaciers
  • and so forth

We do plenty of activities aboard ship as well. These include:

  • whale watching
  • other wildlife viewing
  • cruising
  • sailing
  • optionally, fishing

Sound good to you?

Learn more or inquire about booking a trip.

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Travel inspiration …in photos

Our occasional photo-quote collage that reflects the rewards and special insights travel gives us.

These are made by Maple Leaf Adventures staff, from their photos and their personal inspiration. Please enjoy — and share if you like!

(c) Kevin J. Smith / Maple Leaf Adventures

Taken on a remote island in the Great Bear Rainforest on a Maple Leaf Adventures trip. Photo (c) Brandon Harvey

Photo taken on the Vancouver Island to Great Bear Rainforest trip by Maple Leaf Adventures. Photo (c) Tavish Campbell

Photo (c) Kevin J Smith / Maple Leaf Adventures

Learn about Maple Leaf Adventure’s boutique expedition cruises.

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Learn about Gwaii Haanas in Haida Gwaii

Like to know more about Gwaii Haanas?

It’s full name, actually, is Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.

As far as we know, it’s the only place in the world protected in its entirety from the top of the mountains to the bottom of the sea.

You can learn more on a new page written by crew member Robyn.

>> Read about Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.

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Easter Weekend Cruise in the Gulf Islands National Park, BC, 2014

Apr 19-22, 2014
Depart & return: Sidney, BC (near Victoria airport and ferry terminals)
Board: Saturday, Apr 19. Disembark: noon, Tues Apr 22. Inquire

Take advantage of Easter’s  seasonal lateness this year, and make it a memorable holiday in BC’s beautiful Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, in the Salish Sea.

About the Gulf Islands National Park and Salish Sea

Just outside Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle, this spectacular archipelago of 200+ islands is still wild and beautiful. It’s filled with islands that are inaccessible by ferries.

Maple Leaf will take you sailing to remote beaches and wildlife colonies.

Board the classic, 92-foot schooner Maple Leaf at Sidney, BC, just outside of Victoria, and cruise away to experience of spring’s rejuvenating bounty.

Nature, Naturalist and Beauty

Wildflower meadows, migrating birds, marine mammals, and dry rainforests are just the beginning of the natural wonders you’ll explore on this 3-night cruise with Maple Leaf’s expert guides, naturalist, and crew.

Holiday Dinner and Other Special Features

Maple Leaf’s gourmet chef will prepare a memorable Easter dinner. All meals are prepared from scratch and made to accommodate guests’ dietary needs.

As these trips are like travelling on a private yacht with friends, you can expect other thoughtful, personal touches by crew members as well.

Booking Details

The trip is available either for a family charter, or for individuals.

Price: $1450 per person includes all accommodations, fine meals and snacks by our chef, all beverages including wine and beer, all shore excursions and services of our guides and naturalist, and use of gear on board including (optionally) kayaks.

A minimum number is required to operate the trip, so contact Maple Leaf Adventures now to indicate your interest.

Learn More

You can also email us at, request that we contact you (you can do this with our web form), or telephone 1-888-599-5323 or 250-386-7245.

We look forward to welcoming you aboard.

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$110 Flight Credit on Spring Trips – Anniversary Promotion

Spring in the Great Bear Rainforest 2013. Photo (c) James Warburton

Maple Leaf turns 110 in 2014, and we’re offering a $110 flight credit on these spring trips, to guests who book before March 10:

We’ll take care of booking the flight for you, too.


For Vancouver Island to Great Bear trip:

  • Maple Leaf Adventures will book your return flight from Bella Bella to Vancouver on April 30th and pay $110 of the fare.
  • If there is any additional fare amount (possibly between $20 and $80), we’ll charge you for it.
  • Flights are operated by Pacific Coastal Airlines, which has been serving British Columbia for many decades.

For Great Bear Rainforest and Kitlope trip:

  • Maple Leaf Adventures will book your “to” flight, from Vancouver to Bella Bella on May 2 and will pay $110 of the fare.
  • If there is any additional fare amount (possibly between $20 and $80), we’ll charge you for it.
  • Flights are operated by Pacific Coastal Airlines, which has been serving British Columbia for many decades.

For both trips:

  • Guests must accept the travel date and flight booking provided by Maple Leaf Adventures. Not redeemable for cash value or trip credit; not transferrable to other people; not for use with other trips; no substitutions. We look forward to welcoming you aboard.
  • Maple Leaf Adventures is not liable for any failure on your part to check in, nor for any rebooking costs you might incur, and is under no obligation to change our departure time to accommodate a missed flight. Private transportation to the ship in the wilderness is very expensive. Please check in for your flight on time.
  • Maple Leaf Adventures is under no obligation to change our departure time to accommodate late luggage.
  • Please note, this flight is operated by Pacific Coastal Airlines and Maple Leaf Adventures is not responsible or liable for the flight or your baggage.

Ask about this |  Book a trip |  Read about Apr 23-30 trip |  Read about May 2-11 trip

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SV Maple Leaf’s 110th Anniversary in 2014

Cordova Street, Vancouver, on July 1, 1904, a few weeks before the Maple Leaf was launched. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Archives.

by Maureen Gordon

1904 was a year of dramatic growth for the young city of Vancouver, BC — then just 18 years old.

The first cement sidewalks replaced wooden boards. The first auto dealership opened in town. New office blocks and neighbourhoods sprouted, and people moved in as soon as they were built.

And, the coast’s most expensive yacht slid down the ways and splashed into Coal Harbour: the SV Maple Leaf was born.

This is the year of her 110th anniversary. And it’s off to a great start with a superb gift from historian Michel Riberdy of the Buckingham Historical Society, just outside Ottawa, Ontario – who found these photographs of the Maple Leaf being built.

The SV Maple Leaf's incredibly strong hull being constructed, Vancouver Shipyard, 1904. Photo by Capt William Watts and donated to the Vancouver Archives. Thanks to historian Michel Riberdy.

A close-up. Note how the ship's frames (like "ribs") are very close together. Because she was one of the first ships with an external, lead keel (instead of internal ballast), her designers weren't certain how strong the hull needed to be to hold all that lead. So they over-built her, stronger than necessary. It's one of the reasons she is still an active ship. Photo by Capt William Watts donated to the Vancouver Archives. Thanks to Michele Riberdy.

These new-to-us photographs are a treasure; in the 1920s a fire destroyed records in the shipyard and, as far as we know, the ship’s original plans and drawings were lost.

Our visit to Buckingham, seat of the MacLaren family, where Alexander MacLaren, first owner of the Maple Leaf, came from. (From left to right): Historian Michel Riberdy, John Bogie (grandson of Alex MacLaren), Maureen, Kevin, James MacLaren (great-nephew of Alex). Kevin is holding Alex MacLaren's captain's hat ...but that's a story for another time!

So, when Kevin and I were on a visit to Michel and the MacLaren family in Buckingham this winter, our jaws dropped to see these photographs. They are sort of like the Maple Leaf‘s long lost “baby pictures”.

The Maple Leaf near Vancouver, BC, circa 1904. It looks as if the MacLaren family is aboard in this photo. Photo courtesy of Tim Kenny.

A Short Illustrated History

Like to see more of the ship’s history? View this short, illustrated history of the Maple Leaf.

Next Installments on the History of the Maple Leaf
Throughout the year, we’ll share articles, photos, recollections, and facts from the ship’s history in our newsletters, blog and Facebook page. Stay tuned for more, including a picture of the real Alexander MacLaren….

We hope you enjoyed this first glimpse into the history of the remarkable schooner Maple Leaf.

Happy birthday to a great ship. Here’s to another 110 years!

Vancouver Shipyard, approx 1902. Courtesy Vancouver Archives.

Learn about cruising BC & Alaska aboard the Maple Leaf.

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Bear viewing vs trophy hunting 2014

As a company that’s part of British Columbia’s important eco-adventure tourism industry, we’ve written a lot about bear viewing tourism versus bear trophy hunting (as opposed to hunting for food).

Some of the concepts are summarized like this:

If you are in Victoria, BC, on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 2 pm, and you support this idea, then consider visiting the legislature lawn for a peaceful demonstration of support. You can read more about it here.

Or, you can tweet with the tag #notrophyhunt at that time, or text your message to 39-39-39.

And you can watch all the online comments build at this site.

And, if you’re really interested in a specially guided, boutique expedition to view bears in BC, then here are the trips we suggest:

And in 2014, a very special expedition with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Robert and Birgit Bateman.

Posted in Animals, Wildlife Research, Conservation, Ecotourism, Great Bear Rainforest, Haida Gwaii / Queen Charlotte Islands, Vancouver Island & Broughton Archipelago | Leave a comment