Maritime traders like Charles William Barkley who captained the Imperial Eagle, arrive in Barkley Sound near Ucluelet in 1787. Fur traders were in search of sea otter pelts. Later, around 1870, fur sealers came seeking a haven after working up in the Bering Sea. One fur trader named Captain Francis, who owned a few different ships, established a trading post in Ucluelet. Ucluelet soon became a town and around 1890 more people moved there with hopes of a road being built from Port Alberni.
The Wreck Bay (now Florencia Bay) has a beach where prospectors and campers have panned gold periodically. The bay is composed of fine gravels and thin beds of blue clay. Fine gold accumulated at the base of the cliffs along the bay along with black sand. According to the Ministry of Energy, the gold probably comes from the quartz veins that occur to the west of Kennedy Lake. According to the Annual Report 1900, 23,996 grams of gold were reported to have been removed from this bay. Most of the gold is supposed to have been mined out around 1899-1902.
The Presbyterian Church built a Mission House and school and by 1898 a doctor came to the area as well. Soon the Canadian Pacific Railway started a freight boat sailing from Victoria a few times a month. A lighthouse, government telegraph office and lifeboat station were soon built. And by 1903 a whaling station was established. By 1915 the commercial fishing industry started to make its home in Ucluelet.
By the second world war, the Canadian government built a military base south of Tofino and also put a seaplane base in Ucluelet. You may notice Sea Plane base road as you come in to town on the left hand side.
On February 26, 1952 Ucluelet became incorporated. Then in 1859 the road to Port Alberni finally opened and more people came to town to gain prosperity in the commercial fishing industry. At one point there were 3 fuel stations along the Ucluelet inlet. Salmon, Halibut, cod, herring and pilchards began to be harvested in large numbers. Canaries, ice plants and buying stations lined the harbor as the industry kicked into gear. Limits of fish weren’t yet introduced and commercial boats could harvest whatever they could bring in.
Forestry started with the new roads and until the 1990’s forestry was also a large economic provider in town. The timber industry has its ebb and flows, so as demand decreased, a new economic boost came. Tourism is now the largest contributor to the town and there are many things to see and do. The rugged shoreline hosts many trails that are unique and any one taking in the natural beauty will love the windblown landscape of hemlocks, cedars and furs. Many activities are available including sportfishing, whale watching, kayaking, hiking, hotsprings tours, zip-lining and atv tours.