Beaches, Pacific Northwest
Brady’s Beach is located a short hike from West Bamfield, the town of Bamfield is one of those wondrous places that the Pacific Northwest seems to have in abundance. It’s like a community right out of a storybook. The beach is a short distance over the peninsula where West Bamfield is located. Bamfield has no paved road leading to it, you must travel to Port Alberni and then head west on a rough logging road for 90 km. Be sure to gas up and eat in Port before heading out as you will not see a gas station or store until you reach Bamfield. It is possible to take a paved road to Ucluelet where you can take a boat trip to Bamfield or sign up for a float plane journey over, you can also get on freighter that runs for over 800 km on a return trip that takes you through the broken group islands making various stops along the way to delivery freight. It’s a great trip but I like to drive so that I have a truck to visit the other wonderful sights like Pachena beach where the west coast trail begins.
When driving, you will end up in East Bamfield where there some great places to stay or eat and you can take in the Marine Science Center, it is home to many biologists from 5 different universities. Giving Bamfield the distinction of being a community with more Ph.D.’s per capita than any other town in BC.
The community of Bamfield was named after a carpenter, Eddy Banfield who moved to the area in the late 1850s and took up trading with the first peoples. In 1860, Banfield established a permanent trading post at the entrance to Barkley Sound, which came to be named after him. Eddy died two years later, they are not sure about how he died, but there are rumors that he was murdered. Eddy may have died, but his trading post did not and it was the start of a great little coastal community.
In 1902, when a post office was opened in Bamfield, a mistake was made in the spelling of its name and instead of Banfield, it was called Bamfield. The name stuck and that’s what it is called now.
There is much to do here, the village economy is based on tourism with a little fishing and logging, it is a great place to go sea kayaking, hiking or just beach combing. It is the last village before the start of the west coast trail. The Bamfield Marine Sciences opened in 1972, it is a research center, but also has tours in the summer. Parking is difficult though, so be prepared to walk a way to reach the center on busy days. It is a great place to visit.
We took the water taxi across to on West Bamfield and after walking the boardwalk to the outer end, we stopped at the general store, great store, ice cream, and coffee, the locals gather here to chat while sitting on the benches provided. I had a great conservation with one of the locals, a Lars B Mogensen, and he told me an awesome story about how the boardwalk was built. The stories go like this.
There used to be a fellow who worked for the highways department whose job was to maintain the local trails, repair the bridges and just general upkeep. Apparently, he had ordered some cedar planking to use for this purpose. When it arrived, there had been a mistake in the number of board feet ordered and instead of the 1000 board feet ordered, there was a lot more, I believe he said to me that it was 100,000 board feet and it was unloaded from a barge on west Bamfield. Instead of sending it back, he decided to build the west Bamfield boardwalk, it runs from one end of the village right through to the other end and is quite beautiful.
The best part of the story is that because it was built by the highways department, this boardwalk is maintained by them, so every couple of years a couple of workers come to walk the boardwalk with one on top and the other under, they mark planks that need replacing and then a crew comes after to do the repairs. So this is one of the nicest boardwalks you will ever see on our coast and it should remain like that for years to come.
While you are over in West Bamfield, you can walk across to Brady’s Beach on a well marked out trail. This an incredible area to hike along. There are many sea stacks and shore formations that are quite impressive. We spent a few hours here exploring and were fascinated with the scenery and wildlife. It’s an easy hike to reach the beach. You will not regret visiting here. It is a very impressive place to see.
Well we were walking along the beach, taking in the sights, a small dog came out of nowhere and spent the rest of our time there, he was such a sweet little pup, when we were ready to leave, a man came wandering up to us, he lived down the beach in a beautiful house on the beach. The dog was his and he told us how his pup always goes out to meet those who visit, he said he was almost like the beach ambassador, he was a great little companion during our visit.
Brady’s Beach is named after Percy Brady, a Coast Guard coxswain in the 1920s. He and his wife, Maud, were long-time residents who lived near the beach. There are a number of old homesteads here and at the entrance to the beach is a most awesome compost toilet that really is a thing of beauty. So come on over to the beautiful village of Bamfield and take a hike to Brady’s Beach and spend a few hours or perhaps a few days and relax in the wonder of the west coast of Vancouver Island.