Princess Louisa Inlet History - Mac & The Princess


Photo credit W.A. Stenner 1955

Mac - James F. MacDonald
Laird of the Inlet
James F. MacDonald
( Mac )

As the Princess Louisa International Society prepares to enter the 21st Century, our members look back at this last 100 years with admiration, awe, and respect for the incredible impact that one man, James F. MacDonald, had on the fortunes and future of the Inlet.

From 1927, when he first purchased his property, until his last visit to Princess Louisa in 1972, "Mac" was the self-appointed custodian and guardian of the Princess. He welcomed boaters to his docks with an unobtrusive enthusiasm for his guests and "his" Inlet. He regaled them with the history and the legends of his chosen paradise, frequently embellished with his own sense of humour. He warned them of her dangers while extolling the beauty of the Princess. While pointing out the images he saw in the cliffs and the waterfalls, he imparted to thousands of visitors his love for this very special place.

In the '30's, Mac witnessed the development of the Malibu Club at the entrance to his beloved wilderness. Originally intended to draw the wealthy elite as an integral part of a coast-wide yacht charter service, the commercial potential of Princess Louisa Inlet was interrupted by World War II.

Fortunately for the Princess, the Malibu Club property was acquired by Young Life and has been operated as a non-denominational camp for teen-agers since 1954. Mac loved being with the kids. He made it his "duty" to paddle down to Malibu and entertain each new group of campers with his tales of the Princess.

Friend to all who came here
Whose monument is this place of beauty
Given by him to the yachting fraternity
Of the Pacific Northwest so that it will
Remain forever unspoiled.
   ~ Mac

The potential for commercialization of the Inlet troubled Mac. He wanted "his" Inlet to be preserved, undeveloped and pristine, for all to behold her natural splendour and majesty. He declined several offers to purchase his land and, while he continued to return to the Inlet each Spring until 1972, in 1953 he deeded his property to the Society which had been established for that purpose with these words:

"In giving my Princess Louisa Inlet property to the boating public of the Pacific Northwest, I feel that I am completing a trust. The head of Princess Louisa Inlet is one of the most lovely, outstanding, spectacular beauty spots in the world. It is Yosemite Valley, the Fjords of Norway and many other places all wrought into the background of our conifer forests of the Pacific Northwest.

It should never have belonged to one individual. I filed on the property as wild land and received the first Crown Grant from the British Columbia Government. There I built a stout, comfortable log home, put in a little power plant off the main falls and had all the comforts of a city home. For years, I maintained floats, shore gangways, outdoor fireplaces, trails, etc. for the use of any visitor.

Mac's Cedar log Cabin
Mac's Cabin was built entirely of peeled cedar logs.

Loggers, trappers, Indians, fishermen and yachtsmen were all equally welcome to any hospitality I had to offer. I had a deep feeling that I was only the custodian of the property and it was my duty and pleasure to extend every courtesy to any visitor. My house burned in 1940, and my power plant was given to the Community Hall at Pender harbour. The purchasing power of a slender income has so diminished that I am unable to maintain the floats and shore facilities that add to the comfort and pleasure of visitors.

Therefore, I am turning over the property, in perpetuity, to the boating public of the Pacific Northwest (British Columbia, Washington and Oregon) with the hope that you, your children and your children's children, ad infinitum, may maintain and enjoy the beauty and peace of the Princess Louisa Inlet. This will be an international project. Through the coming generations, let it become a symbol of international understanding and friendship. This is my prayer."

The Princess Louisa International Society has accepted this challenge and this trust. Since 1964, we have been partners with B.C. Parks in the administration and preservation of the Inlet. We have worked with other stakeholders and property owners to carry out Mac's vision, our trust. We have lobbied governments, raised funds, purchased lands within the Inlet and monitored the use of the Inlet by all to the end that Mac's prayer, and our goal, may be fulfilled.

The goals of the Princess Louisa International Society are shared by many - our members. Our membership dues and donations enable us to keep our promise to Mac that there will be no charge for moorage in the Inlet. As we look to the next Century, we will continue our efforts to fulfill our trust. Your membership dues and tax-free donations will enable us to do so.

Please fill out the Membership and Donation form and send it with your cheque today and join the many boaters who proudly wear the Life Member burgee, depicted on these pages, on their boats.


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Princess Louisa
canadian flag Princess Louisa International Society
P.O. Box 33918, Station D
Vancouver, BC
V6J 4L7, Canada

e-mail :

usa flag Princess Louisa International Foundation
Post Office Box 3562
Bellevue, WA 98004, USA