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Port Hardy is the final stop on the Island Highway. This sizable community is slowly moving away from a resource-based economy: Fishing, forestry, and mining have waned -- though not disappeared -- and the town is gradually developing an economy based on tourism.

A principal reason to venture here is the ferry to Prince Rupert -- in fact, the ferry is a mainstay of the local tourism industry. The night before the 15-hour Inside Passage ferry runs, the town is booked up and reservations are needed at most restaurants. Port Hardy is also the point of departure for the Discovery Coast ferry cruise.

People also visit for diving and excellent halibut and salmon fishing. Sportfishing is very good here, as the runs of salmon in local rivers continue to be strong and are therefore open to more fishing than at threatened runs elsewhere. The Port Hardy Museum, 7110 Market St. (tel. 250/949-8143), holds relics from early Danish settlers, plus a collection of stone tools from about 8,000 B.C. found just east of town. Admission is by donation. The gift shop is one of the few places in town where you can find local carving and artwork. Hours are from mid-May to mid-October Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30am to 5:30pm, and from mid-October to mid-May Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 5pm.