The village was in the shadow of Mt. H’Kusam, which through a unique weather phenomenon often has clouds clinging to the upper mountainside. The First Nations called this mountain “Hiyatsee Saklekum” or “where the breath of the sea lions gathers at the blow hole”. They believed that there was a tunnel through the mountain through which the sea lions’ breath traveled. More recently local people have affectionately called the perpetual cloud at the peak of the mountain “Oscar.”
|The old Kusam Store|
Theodore Peterson, a cook on sailing ships, settled near the mouth of the Salmon River in 1895. He married a local aboriginal woman and started a business partnership with Ed Wilson. “Port H’Kusam” soon boasted a store with a large false front, the H’Kusam Hotel, and a saloon. One of these buildings was also known as “Ruby House.” The community was a stop for coastal steamships in the early 1900s. An official post office opened at Port Kusam on March 1, 1899.
Otto Sacht was a 29 year old living in Victoria when a colleague suggested that they load up a ship with trade goods and head up the coast, selling the goods to local Indians and hand loggers. Sacht was interested, and the two set off in 1903/04. At their first stop, in H’Kusam, a local chief “Tyee Harry” was hosting a potlatch and purchased almost their entire load of goods for $4,500.00. The partners took their money and stayed to explore the area. Sacht fell in love with the area and stayed, becoming a founding father of Sayward.
On December 1, 1911, the post office at H’Kusam was closed and it was moved to what was becoming a larger town at Sayward.
A trail system now leads up the Mt. H’Kusam, behind the old village site. Called the H’Kusam Mountain Trails (or Bill’s Trails), it allows climbers to walk from sea level to 5681 ft, and provides a beautiful view of Johnstone Strait. An annual endurance climb has been held on the trail. A popular geocashing trail also leads through the old townsite.