In the Sayward Valley area, way up high above Cooper Creek, in the Salmon River watershed, at the end of long rough road, you will reach the Admiral Broeren Rec Site and the home of Vancouver Islands biggest Cypress, (Yellow Cedar). The area has many large trees with some almost as big as the Admiral. Admiral Broeren is about 11 meters in circumference and about 50 meters high. Read More….
Alice Lake Rec Site
Alice lake Park is located on Alice Lake, it is a very pretty lake located on the north end of Vancouver Island. It is one of a series of good fishing lakes just off the Port Alice highway, which runs down the west side of the lake. There is plenty of wildlife here and you will have a good chance of seeing elk, deer, bears, possibly a wolf or cougar and a huge variety of birds. So don’t forget to bring your camera so you can take home some memories. Read More….
Antler Lake Rec Site
The Antler Lake Rec Site is located about 3 km from the town of Gold River. The recreational site is well looked after with picnic sites with fire pits and tables. This is a day-use site with no camping. It is a very pretty place and you will have plenty of opportunities to view a wide variety of wildlife and birds. Don’t forget to bring your camera. Read More….
Anuntz Lake Rec Site
To get to the Anuntz Lake Rec Site you head up the inland island highway from Woss until you come to the Zeballos turn off. From there, you head down the Zeballos road until you come to the river main road. Turn here and drive until you reach the Anuntz Lake Recreational Site turn off. I would recommend that you use a truck as this road can get rough. Read More….
Atluck Lake Rec Site
The Atluck lake rec site has plenty of room for camping and a boat launch. The camping here is pretty awesome. There are 2 campgrounds that have a boat launch along with camping. Both sites are awesome and are right on the lake. Camping here is pretty good, you will enjoy yourself. There are several other rustic campsites on the lake. Read More….
Auger Point Park
Strathcona Park is the oldest park in B.C. It became a provincial park in 1911. Strathcona Park is truly a wilderness park. There are many high peaks here, most have trails that are well maintained. There are lakes and mountain tarns that are like jewels surrounded by the high country forests and meadows, some of these lakes have campsites complete with tent platforms to keep you off the ground. The whole park has many trails, some are easy short trails to various area wonders and waterfalls, others are week-long treks requiring wilderness skills. Read More….
The Bamberton Provincial Park Situated in Mill Bay, it is a beautiful place to visit. The white sandy beach and picnic areas at the beach are great places to sunbath. Situated on the west side of Saanich Inlet, the park is a great place for a picnic. The views from the beach are awesome and kids will love swimming at the beach. Up off the beach area is a well-maintained campground surrounded by a forest full of arbutus trees is available for camping, there are 50 camping sites here. Read More….
Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park is one of those wonders that abound on Vancouver Island, it is a place of beauty. The park has a long history that goes back many thousands of years and was a gathering place for the Lekwungen people, we know them as the Songhees People now. They would harvest camas roots here, in amongst the Gary oak forests. In 1842, the hill was selected as the site for fort Victoria. In 1878 over fears of war with Russia, batteries were placed on the hill that had two 64 pound guns mounted. Read More….
Big Bay Rec Site
Big bay Rec Site is on Lower Campbell lake. There are many, many places to camp here besides the main campground, and they all offer something. Some are great places to fish, others are great for swimming. Some can have large groups camp together and most of the camping spots are free to camp at and are maintained by the BC Forest Service. There are many spots that can be reached by boat that give you complete privacy, great if you have dogs that barks. Read More….
Botanical Beach Park
Botanical Beach Park is on the west coast of Vancouver Island northwest of Victoria. The beach has 251 hectares of forest habitat, but most people visit to see the abundance of intertidal life at low tide. The area is one of the most amazing places on the entire West Coast. There is one of the most amazing trails that run between Botanical Beach Park and Botany Bay, this trail is got to have the wildest twisted trees you will ever see, my wife and l love walking along this trail. Read More….
Bowen Park is located right in the middle of Nanaimo BC. This is a beautiful park with plenty of trails along the Millstone River that runs through the park. These are interpretive trails, the parks 36 acres are mostly undeveloped and a real jewel for the city of Nanaimo. You can walk to a very pretty waterfall that includes a fish ladder where you can observe the salmon as they move up the river. Read More….
Cape Scott Park
Cape Scott Provincial Park is a rugged, isolated, beautiful park located at the north end of Vancouver Island. The park was created in 1973, the park has over 115 kilometers of incredible, remote and scenic beaches, estuaries and trails for you to enjoy. The park starts at Shushartie Bay in the east, then stretches westward around Cape Scott running south to San Josef Bay. White sand beaches dominate the park with the most impressive being Nels Bight. Read More….
Carmanah walbran Park
Carmanah Walbran Park is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island and is by far the most beautiful place on earth. It is a rugged area full of waterfalls and giants, a land of mists full of animals and plants of incredible beauty. A place that one should see and walk in just once in their life. Carmanah Walbran is home to giant spruce trees that can reach heights in excess of 95 metres, some of these trees could be over 900 years old. Read More….
Cathedral Grove Park
Cathedral Grove is located in the Macmillan Provincial Park. To get there from the Inland Island Hwy, you take the Port Alberni Hwy and follow it until you pass Cameron lake, the park is just past the end of the lake when you are heading west. Cathedral Grove Park was created to protect and save a few hectares (157 hectares) of old-growth forest. I am quite pleased with this. This grove is a wonder. Read More….
The Cluxewe Campground is located just outside of Port Mcneill. The campground is owned and managed by the Kwakiutl. The Cluxewe word has several meanings, ” place of the changing river mouth” and “place of refuge”. I love this resort and campground, even though you are only minutes away from Port Mcneill and all the modern amenities, you will feel like you are a million miles away from all the hustle of the modern world. Read More….
Collier Dam Park
Collier Dam Park is a very popular park within the city boundaries of Nanaimo. It is a pretty awesome freshwater swimming spot that is big enough to take a lot of activity. The park is a dog walking park where the upper section is an off-leash area, this means off-leash not out of control. This makes it a very special place when the wife and I go walking in the park, we meet so many dogs, most of them are very well behaved and extremely friendly, we love this. Read More….
Comox Lake Campground
The Comox Lake Campground Park is a jewel of a site. It has beautiful sandy beaches, a swimming float, boat launch, dock and a great concession shop where you can pick up needed items that you left at home. There are 18 sites that are serviced with water and power, and there are 41 un-serviced sites that are set back into the forest, a few of these are walk in sites that are surrounded by old-growth forests. Read More….
Cougar Creek Campground
Cougar Creek is located on the Nesook Bay road, it runs off the Head Bay road that will take you to Tahsis from Gold River. It’s a sweet campsite that is quite reasonably priced. The cost per night is $12, seiners stay for $6, $10 per night parking or $40 a week, there is a boat launch that is free to use for campers or $5 fee for those who are not staying. you are welcome to stay for a max of 14 days. The campground is open to camping year-round, fees are charged from mid-May to mid-September. Read More….
Elk Falls Park
Elk Falls Park is located just west of Campbell River on the Gold River Hwy. It has a great many trails for hiking, picnic areas and over 200 individual campsites along the Quinsam River. The upper falls and the day-use areas are located just below the dam on John Hart Lake. The new suspension bridge is open now and its quite the awesome place to view the falls from. Read More….
Englishman River Falls Park
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is located 13 km southwest of Parksville on central Vancouver Island. Take the Port Alberni Road at Parksville and follow the directional signs that are posted about 9 km up the road. Englishman River Falls Park. The park has beautiful old-growth and second-growth forests of fir, cedar, hemlock and maple along with beautiful trails that meander through these forests. Read More….
Fairy Lake Rec Site
The Fairy lake Rec Site is on Fairy Lake and is located close to Port Renfrew. You use the paved Harris Creek mainline to get there. This a pretty little rec site with some awesome views. There is a very small island on the lake with a tree growing on it, this island has been photographed by so many people, it is such a beautiful little island. Read More….
Filberg Lodge Park
The Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park is located in the community of Comox, BC in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, Canada. The park is spread out over 9 acres and includes incredible trails, beautiful ponds, a pretty creek, traditional totem pole, herb and flower gardens, a great little tea house and a lodge. The lodge was originally the home of R.J. Filberg and his family. Read More….
French Creek Park
Situated on west coast Vancouver Island, on the shore of the incredible beautiful Juan de Fuca Strait, French Beach Provincial Park offers awesome hiking trails through the surrounding rain forest. You park almost on the beach so its a great place for those with mobility issues to come and enjoy the ocean views with very little effort. All in all, this is a great beach park. Read More….
Fuller Lake Park
Fuller Lake Park is a great place for swimming, fishing canoeing, kayaking and boating (electric motors only). The park is located just outside Chemainus on south Vancouver Island. The park has an incredible beach area, lots of space for picnics, a well-built fishing pier, boat ramp, and full washroom facilities. There are tennis courts, a floating swimming pier and change rooms for your use and the beach has a lifeguard on duty during the summer months. Read More….
Gold River Rec Site
The Gold River Park is located just 5 km from town on the banks of the Gold River, Just head towards the Gold River Estuary and follow the signs. The campground is quite rustic but well maintained. The available services include picnic tables and fire pits at each site and pit toilets that are located within the campground. This is a very pretty spot with large trees and the gold river rushing by. Read More….
Goldstream Park is just a few minutes out from Victoria, yet it is so wild and majestic, one would think you were in the middle of a great wilderness. The park is full of incredible waterfalls, fascinating birds and plants, some of which are very rare. For the hiker who wants to get away and see Vancouver Islands deep rain forests or a birder who is looking for that rare bird or someone who loves to watch the salmon run, Goldstream park has it all. Read More….
Gordon Bay Park
Visit the Gordon Bay Park, where great family camping and fishing awaits you on the shores of Lake Cowichan. The park is north of Duncan on south Vancouver Island. There are many campsites for you to camp in and a wonderful beach area. During the summer months, the lake is warm and inviting, great beaches and great picnic and camping opportunities. Read More….
Gray Lake Rec Site
The Gray lake rec Site is located on Gray Lake, you can find it between fry lake and Brewster lake, this is a pretty little rec site. At one time you could cross the trestle to the far side of the lake, I used to go mushrooming over there. There are some nice campsites here and a car-top boat launch for your use. There have been recent improvements to the campgrounds, this is great as this is a very nice campground on a very nice lake. The lake is part of the Sayward valley canoe route. Read More….
Hoomac Lake Rec Site
The Hoomak lake Rec Site is in between the Sayward Valley and Port McNeill on the north island hwy, not very far from Woss. It’s a very nice little rec site. There is a rest area with a trail that takes you down to the lake through a series of railed steps. There is a hook up to the lake trail from the bottom of the stairs and another way to join from the north end of the parking lot, just past the restrooms. Read More….
Horne Lake Caves Park
Vancouver Island has many cave systems to visit, but the caves at the Horne Lake Park have got to the best on the island, caving here is something that all should do at least once in their lives. You can do quite a variety of tours here. There is no camping right at the caves but you can camp at the Horne Lake Regional Park, this is a very nice campground with areas for tent camping and RV sites as well. Read More….
Joe Walker Park
The Joe Walker Park is located just between Buckley Bay and Union Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The park is a long narrow park, there are over 500 meters of shoreline in the park but the park runs on the narrow ocean side of the highway. This is one of those spots that are nice to stop for a relaxing break as you travel along the highway, its a pleasant park with great views and with the possibility of seeing various types of sea-life makes it a great place to stop. Read More….
Kaikash Creek Rec Site
The campground at the Kaikash Creek Rec Site is a remote campground. It is only accessible by water. It is extensively used by kayakers. there is freshwater here and quite a few campsites all located just up from one of the longest beaches in the area. It has composting toilets, picnic tables, and privacy. The beach is almost a km long and is located 11 km south of Telegraph Cove and only 6 km north of Robson Bight Ecological Reserve boundary. Read More….
Kains Lake Rec Site
The Kains Lake Rec Site is located on Kains Lake, you can find it on the Holberg rd about west 14 km of Port Hardy. There is a very good chance to see some of our larger animals like bears, elk, deer or maybe even a cougar and there are many types of smaller animals here, animals like pine martens, raccoons, mink, beaver, otters and many more. So, when you drop in to visit this little lake at the rec site, don’t forget to bring your camera and take home some memories. Read More….
Kennedy Lake Park
Kennedy Lake Park is a great place to visit, the lake is located between the communities of Tofino and Ucluelet. Kennedy Lake Park is a recreation destination for kayaking, boating, canoeing, picnicking, swimming, camping, and sightseeing. The park includes two day-use areas, campsites, and a boat launch. Both picnic areas are located on the south end of the lake. Read More….
Kinsol Trestle Park
The Kinsol Trestle that crosses the Koksilah river is a pretty amazing sight to see. It is one of eight trestles that are part of the Cowichan River Trail that is part of Trans- Canada Trail. The Kinsol Trestle being 205 meters long and 48 meters high is one of the largest free-standing timber trestles in the world. The trestle is located a bit southwest of Duncan, you drive through the village of Shawnigan Lake and along the lake by the same name, it’s a pleasant drive. Read More….
Kitty Coleman Provincial Park
The Kitty Coleman Provincial Park is located on the south side of the Straight Of Georgia. The park is a nice place to visit, it is in between Campbell River and the Comox Valley and it is a very popular park for camping, picnicking, swimming, fishing and a great base for day trips out in a kayak. The park has picnic shelter with tables, pit toilets, nature trails, 2 boat launches and plenty of camping areas for both singles as well as group camping. Read More….
Klaklakama Lake Rec Site
The Klaklakama Lake Rec Site or might I say, klaklakama lakes Rec Sites, there are two of them, are called the highlight of the Nimpkish Valley by some, I do agree. The mountain views you get as you drive these roads are incredible, take your time and enjoy them, l am always taken back with the beauty of this area. I am sure you will be too. Read More….
Little Qualicum Falls Park
One of my favorite places to visit on Vancouver Island is the Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. Little Qualicum Falls Park has a series of beautiful waterfalls that tumble down a rocky canyon in a misty forest, this is a mythical place of beauty and wildness all surrounded by mountain peaks, a sight of wonder awaits you here. This is truly one of the most beautiful parks on central Vancouver Island. Read More….
Lizard Lake Rec Site
The Lizard lake rec Site is a nice little rec site on the South Island. Lizard lake is a very popular lake 18 km northeast of Port Renfrew. It is easily accessed off the Harris Creek mainline. The lake gets its name from the salamanders who live and breed here, there are many. The west coast wet rain forests are perfect for these salamanders to breed in and this lake seems to be very popular to them. Read More….
Loudon Park on Long Lake is a popular lake located in North Nanaimo, it is a very popular spot for swimming, fishing and quite a variety of paddling sports like canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, rowing and walking. It’s a nice spot to have a picnic. There is a walking trail that runs between Norwell Dive and 101 Street. It’s a pleasant walking path. Read More….
McCreight Lake Rec Sites
I first fished McCreight lake back in the early 60s, it was called bear lake then. This lake is set in some very nice country, mountains and valleys with wildlife all around you. There are 3 recreation sites on the lake along with lots of camping areas plus several car-top boat launches. At the west end of the lake, there is a trail that takes you down to where the creek that feeds the lake flows in, there is a nice sandy beach here and lots of room for camping, this is such a nice beach. Read More….
Memekay Horse Camp Rec Site
The Memekay Horse Camp is located near the river with the same name, the Memekay River, this site was created to serve as the north end campsite the Salmon-Brewster Horse Trail. This site has a large shelter, high lines, and horse corrals. each site has 2 small corrals and plenty of room for trucks, campers and horse trailers. Read More….
Miller Creek Rec Site
A few years ago, the road into the Miller Creek Rec Site was completely redone and a great campsite was put in, there are quite a few campsites with tables and fire pits. It all comes with a sandy beach and wondrous views. This is a very nice spot, lots of great places to park a camper or pitch a tent and plenty of beach for the kids to play at. This is an exceptional site that is only a few minutes out of Campbell River. Read More….
Miracle Beach Park
As a camping destination, few locations can beat the beautiful Miracle Beach Park, located between Campbell River and the Comox Valley. Miracle Beach Park is right on the water’s edge. A large white sandy beach on the shores of the inland straights is the main attraction at Miracle Beach. Read More….
In 1934, Gertrude Moore created Moorecroft Camp for women on the site of the current Moorecroft Park. she named the camp after her childhood home back in Ontario. In October 2010, the Regional District of Nanaimo voted unanimously to purchase the land to put to use as a Regional Park. By January 2013 the management plan was complete. It was completed using guidelines put forth by the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Conservation Covenant. Read More….
Morton Lake Park
Morton Lake Park is located north of Campbell River in the Sayward forest area. The park is on the shores of Morton lake and also on a portion of the adjoining Mohun lake. There are 24 campsites, all car accessible on Morton Lake. 12 of these can be reserved. There is a real nice day-use area with picnic tables, and a wonderful sandy beach area for swimming, along with two change houses, pit toilets, and an information area. Read More….
Neck Point Park
Neck Point Park is a pretty awesome place to spend a day exploring. Everything from fine pebble beaches to rugged rock cliffs with plenty of trails that will lead from one incredible view to another and there are many views here, all of which will take your breath away. There more things to do here than would ever think could be contained in just 36 acres. Its a paradise for photographers, its a place of wonders for all. Read More….
Nitinat River Park
The Nitinat River Provincial Park is comprised of 160 hectares of BC coastal rainforest that includes several endangered species of plants like the tooth leaved monkey flower and the scouler’s corydalis, both are quite rare and beautiful. The park protects the river where summer steelhead, winter steelhead, sea-run cutthroat, rainbow trout, chum, coho and chinook salmon spawning beds. The park also protects a forest of big trees. Read More….
Nixon Creek Campground
The Nixon Creek Campground is a very pretty site, the rec site has 48 campsites right on the edge of Cowichan Lake, a great site for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and swimming. This is a great family site surrounded by a beautiful older stand with a real west coast feel. There is a great beach where it is easy to launch boats, kayaks or canoes. The site fee is $15.00, but there is a $2.00 premium on waterfront sites. Read More….
Octopus Islands Marine Park
Octopus Islands Provincial Marine Park is located along the northeast coast of Quadra Island. The park is a spectacular destination for ocean kayaking enthusiasts. The park is 404 hectares of land and another 458 hectares on the foreshore. The underwater life here is incredible that is due to a high concentration of nutrients in the cold northern waters. Read More….
Pacheedaht Campground and beach are located on the lands of the Pacheedaht people, very close to the trail-head for the West Coast Trail. There is much to do here, you can surf and swim, go for endless walks or just sit back and enjoy the view. At night you can see the lights of at the other end of the bay. The beach out front of the campground is a 2 km long and curved beach of sand. Read More….
Petroglyph Park is found in the city of Nanaimo, BC. The park is at the estuary of the Nanaimo River where it flows into the Nanaimo Harbor. There are many Petroglyphs here to view and you get some great viewing opportunities for marine life here as well. The whole area has significant importance to the Snuneymuxw First People and is considered a spiritual place. Read More….
Pye Mountain Rec Site
The Pye Mountain Rec Site is roaring to go and off-road enthusiasts of Vancouver Island have been enjoying the trails. It took 3 years of building trails and of coarse the facilities of the campground. There was a huge base of volunteers that worked for those 3 years to make this happen. Mike Coulter, president of the Campbell River ATV club was instrumental in the creation of this off-road ATV rec site and trails. Read More….
Ralph River Campground
Ralph river is located in Strathcona Park and flows into buttle lake. There is a very nice campground at the river mouth with 85 vehicle accessible sites. These sites are non serviced but do have pit toilets and hand-pumped water supply along with a boat launch. Camp Fires are allowed in the fire rings unless there is a fire ban. Please bring your own wood or purchase wood at the site, it is illegal to gather wood from the park to burn. Read More….
Rathtrevor Park in Parksville one of the best camping picnic areas on Vancouver Island. Giant old-growth firs, an incredible sandy beach with campsites located in the mature Douglas fir forest. There are many campsites in this forest along with trails throughout the park. All campsites are within a 5 min walk of the beach. There is plenty of parking and its free. Read More….
Resolution Park is a sweet little campsite a few km from Zeballos on the road to fair harbor. There are 7 sites, picnic tables, pit toilets and a wonderful wharf for your use. Rhodes creek runs through the site and fishing is the best reason to be here. I personally just love the campground, it really is a great place to spend a few nights. Read More….
Sproat Lake Park
Sproat Lake Park is located northwest of Port Alberni, it is a beautiful lakeside park where you can swim, canoe, kayak, powerboat, water ski and windsurf to your heart’s content. The Sproat Lake Park has 2 campgrounds and a great picnic area. The two campgrounds are separated by the lake road but there is a path that runs under the road that joins both these campgrounds. Read More….
Strathcona Park was designated a Provincial Park in 1911 and was the first provincial park in British Columbia. Situated on the central Island, Strathcona park is a premier wilderness hiking park with some of the Islands highest peaks in it. This park is beautiful. There are many beautiful lakes and streams scattered throughout the park with trails going to most of them. Read More….
Willow Point Park
Willow Point Park in Campbell River has so much to offer. the park has tennis courts, splash park, skate park, frisbee golf course, walking trails through an awesome forest and the sportsplex, a multi-use facility. The splash park is simply amazing. There is no charge to use the splash park. There are three sections, one for families, one for teens and one for toddlers. Some of the water pieces are quite awesome, you will find a number of cool ones here, killer whales, fire hydrants, fishing poles and over spilling bowls. Read More….
Schoen Lake Park, Photo By Bud Logan
Whether you like to back pack into wilderness areas, pack your trunk and camp at our provincial campsites or load up your camper and head out into the woods, you’ll discover an outdoor wonderland filled with pristine lakes, rugged mountainous and rugged trails.
No matter where you travel on the BC coast, you will always be close to a provincial park.
From the incredible rugged beauty of Cape Scott on the north Vancouver Island to the Haida Gwaii’s South Moresby National Park, from the parks located along the Skeena River to the southern islands around Victoria, there will be a park ready for you to camp in. The Carmanah Walbran park protects old growth rain forests and in the south, the sunny Gulf Islands cradle dozens of Marine Parks.
Vancouver Island has 150 government-designated parks. Some, like Strathcona Provincial Park, is the most incredible parks on Vancouver Island or hikers can hike the most scenic trail on earth (The West Coast Trail), all in all, the Island has many parks.
Strathcona Park was designated a Provincial Park in 1911 and was the first provincial park in British Columbia. Situated on the central Island, Strathcona park is a premier wilderness hiking park with some of the Islands highest peaks in it. This park is beautiful.
There are many beautiful lakes and streams scattered throughout the park with trails going to most of them. There is Marble Meadows, reached by trail from the west shore of Buttle lake, then you can go up to flower Ridge from the east shore of Buttle lake, both hikes are difficult but very much worth it. There are many more trails that take you to various areas of the park.
From the Mount Washington Ski Resort you can head out hiking on the Forbidden Plateau, this is a relatively flat area covered in lakes and full of trails, there are miles of boardwalks in the lower sections that are totally wheelchair accessible, the upper trails can be a bit steeper but still pretty easy going. This is all in an alpine forest setting.
My boys and I come up here quite often, we like to feed the whiskey jacks. There is camping sites, places to fish and a new fishing pier on Battleship Lake. There is a state of art composting toilet located here as well. Fishing in most of the lakes here is fairly good, all lakes are stocked regularly. This creates a good supply of fish.
The rest of the park is wilderness and you should be experienced and well prepared before venturing here. This is a big park, filled with raging rivers, high waterfalls, mountain peaks, pristine lakes and huge glaciers. Be safe when hiking out here. Della Falls is the highest falls in Canada. It is located in the park and the highest mountain on Vancouver Island, the 22,00 meter Golden Hinde stands in the center of Strathcona Park.
Buttle Lake was named after Commander John Buttle who explored the area in the 1860s, has good fishing for Cutthroat, Rainbow and Dolly Varden trout. John Buttle was instrumental in the park’s creation.
John Buttle was born in England, in 1838. He came to Vancouver Island by Steamer in 1858 with a group of Royal Engineers headed by Colonel John Summerfield-Hawkins. Corporal Buttle was assigned by the Kew Gardens in England as an Assistant botanical collector. He worked here under the guidance of the Oregon Boundary Commission from the spring of 1858 to the spring of 1862. In 1863 he worked on the proposed route from Bute Inlet, up the Homathco River and into the Cariboo gold-fields for Alfred Waddington and then in 1864 John Buttle became a member of the first Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition that explored the west coast and southern regions of the island.
Dr. Robert Brown, was commander for this exploratory expedition, and was the first to explore the area but upon his leaving the expedition, he suggested that the job be offered to Corporal John Buttle. He gladly accepted and the committee appointed Buttle as expedition commander. He was accompanied by Thomas Forgie, Magin Hancock, Francis McCausland, Thomas Laughton, and two native guides. These men were all quite capable of carrying out the exploration of the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. His first assignment was just that, the exploration of the island’s west coast.
On June 19, the Navy’s H.M.S. Forward left Esquimalt, two days later they delivered John along with the rest of his crew and their supplies to the shores of Clayoquot Sound. where they set up a base camp. For the next five weeks, Buttle and the rest of the expedition explored Clayoquot Sound. then on July 28, they arrived at a point two miles up the Bedwell River that at the time was called the Bear River. Here the river forked and the party decided to separate into two groups. Buttle, along with two other members explored the right branch which is now called the Ursus River. Hancock and the others headed up the left branch of the river. Both parties took with them enough supplies to last 10 to 12 days.
On Johns trip up the Ursus river, John climbed one of the mountains along the way, he was accompanied by one member and the native guides. From the summit he got a good view in the direction of Comox, he reported seeing saw a very large body of water that was about 20 miles long and about 2 miles wide, one must assume he was looking at Buttle Lake. From Buttle’s personal diary of the trip dated August 2, he wrote: “saw a beautiful sheet of water at the very least twenty miles long”.
John Buttle would send in reports whenever possible and in one report, he noted that Hancock and his crew had found gold up the left branch of the river. This report of gold was picked up by the newspapers and sensationalized, a mini gold rush followed, unfortunately, no one found much gold.
After reaching base camp again Buttle continued with the exploration of the west coast arriving at Nootka Sound and then traveling as far as Conuma (Woss) Lake via the Tahsis/woss grease trail. Buttle had been trying to reach nimpkish, but illness and bad weather forced him to turn around and then return to Victoria.
When the party reached Victoria, they had to deal with many angry prospectors who had rushed to the Bedwell River upon hearing of the discovery of gold, only to be disillusioned by the small quantities.
Criticized for the Bedwell River fiasco, Buttle moved on to California and was rarely heard of again on Vancouver Island. In 1892, the surveyor William Ralph named the Buttle lake after Corporal John Buttle.
Although the work done by John Buttle was not undertaken to find areas that could be set aside as parks, his work would eventually be used to do this. The reports written by John were the inspiration that helped make this the first provincial park in the new province of BC.
Strathcona Park is a premier wilderness hiking park with some of the Islands highest peaks in it. The wildlife here is incredible and the outdoor recreational opportunities are endless. This park is beautiful. Many others had a hand in the creation of this park but in my eyes, John Buttle was instrumental in its creation. I have heard it said that Buttle lake is the jewel of this park, a fitting name for it, the name of a great explorer who was one of the first to explore this area.
The whole BC coastal Region has many parks, protected areas, ecological reserves, and conservancy areas. It is a windswept land of waterfalls, rivers, mountains and ocean vistas that rival any place on the planet.
I grew up on this coast and still am able to find parks that not only have l not been to visit them, but I also have not even known of their existence, this gives me the excitement of something new just about every time l go out.
Some of my most fond memories are of hiking up in the high country parks with a group of guys that l grew up with. We all enjoyed the same things, we all enjoyed getting out into the wilderness. We would hike for days through swamp and brush to get to hidden lakes or mountain trails. I remember both the soreness from carrying heavy loads to the exhilaration on first sight of our destination.
Sometimes we could drive right into the middle of parks and take short hikes into some incredible places. This is what’s so great about parks, besides of coarse the whole protection component of parks. Parks can allow the less able to get out and enjoy the wonders of the coast, there are many trails in our parks that are even wheelchair accessible and this is wonderful.
Many of our elders are now unable to do hikes like they could when they were younger, although l have hiked alongside some that could put a 25 yr to shame. These shorter and mostly level trails still allow them to get out and taste the fresh air, feel the forest winds gentle blow across their faces and feed their souls with peace.