Humans of Campbell River: Michael Hack

Humans of Campbell River is a collaboration between Destination Campbell River and Bluetree Photography. Showcasing the stories of those who call our coastal community home. Each week we deep dive into a new story and the connections between people and place. This week we’re sharing the story of Michael Hack.

My name is Michael Hack, I am an engineer by day and a landscape, wildlife and tourism photographer by night (it’s mostly just evenings and weekends but you know what I mean). I was born and raised in Campbell River, growing up here I always loved the variety of things to do, from exploring down on the beach to hiking or skiing up in the mountains, the options here really are endless. It wasn’t until I moved away for school that I realized how special that variety really is, no matter where I lived for school or my early career, I always found myself comparing the options of things to do what I knew was available in Campbell River. I often think about how my time living away gave me perspective for how special Campbell River really is and one of the reasons I moved back a number of years ago. One of the best parts about living back at home, besides exploring rugged parts of the coast or hiking in the mountains, is spending time with my Grandma.

A man and his grannie at a coffee shop

I attribute a lot of my own sense of adventure to my grandma, and can thank her for having set our families roots here in Campbell River. My grandma started her own great adventure back when she was 22, she was born and raised in Switzerland, when she decided to move across the world in the pursuit of love. Sight unseen, she picked up and travelled to Canada to follow my grandpa who had come over first and asked her to come too.The year was 1955 and back then the journey took a little longer than it does these days and she really had no idea what it was going to be like, but that’s what adventure is all about isn’t it? After moving to Vancouver and starting a family together, my grandparents ended up moving their family (my mom and two siblings) to Campbell River in 1971. Legend has it, the real reason they moved was my grandpa came to Campbell River to visit a friend and went out fishing and he caught a 43lb salmon, and he was “hooked” on life in Campbell River from then on. When he went back to Vancouver he told my grandma how amazing it was and they moved less than month later and have lived here ever since.

A man and his grandma at a coffee shop

When I was a kid my grandma lived down on the beach at Shelter Point. Some of my first memories of my own exploring were out in front of her house on the beach, clamouring over driftwood, building forts, walking as far as I could on the reef at low tide. She’d show me how to lift up rocks to find whatever creatures were hiding underneath, and we’d watch all the other animals come to forage or sunbathe on the rocks. I remember my first beach fires out in front of her house, cooking hot dogs and marshmallows until the late hours of summer evenings or sitting and watching the raw power of the ocean waves during winter storms.

A man enjoying a coffee

Now my own adventures take me to the far reaches of Vancouver Island, which I’m lucky to share with her through my photography. Although there are places here she will never get to see herself, she still wants to hear about all about the places I go and the adventures undertaken to get there. We try to go on a few adventures together every year, she has limited mobility now but there are lots of great places you can “car hike” to, from remote coastlines, to mountain viewpoints and more, she is an inspiration to me and proof that you’re never too old to pursue your next adventure. One if our favourite adventures to date was a “hike” up to the Mount Menzies Lookout just north of Campbell River. I have been to the lookout many times and know it as one of the go to local spots and even though my grandma has lived here for most her life she had never been. We drove up the steep approach all the way to the spot where she could get out and walk a short distance to see the view. The viewpoint overlooks Mohun Lake and sprawling forests all framed in by the interior island mountains. We got up to the lookout just in time to catch the changing colours in the sky from the setting sun and watched as the sun snuck behind Victoria Peaks and below the horizon. It was a moment neither of us will ever forget and just one example of the adventures that can be had close to home. 

I guess you could say a sense of adventure runs in the family.

Follow Humans of Campbell River for weekly Stories