The pilot sent a distress call shortly after taking off from Hesquiat Lake in the Tofino district, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. The district on the west side of Vancouver Island has a small resident population but is popular in the summer with whale watchers, fishermen, hikers and surfers.
Air Nootka, which owns the De Havilland Beaver, said it was chartered by five hikers. They were headed to Gold River in the interior of Vancouver Island.
The plane crashed only 3 miles from Hesquiat Lake, but searchers spent 5 hours looking for it, Lt. Greg Menzies of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center said.
"Because of the thick forest, because of the low ceiling, it does obviously take more time," Menzies said.
Dianne Ignace, who lives in Hesquiat Village, said Friday morning was not a good time for flying.
"Our ceiling was so low, we couldn't see the mountains for most of the day," she told the CBC.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the names of the dead and injured would not be released until families had been notified.