Vancouver Island Communities

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Bamfield

Bamfield is located at the southern entrance to Barkley Sound. 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.  Read More….

 

 

Black Creek

The Black Creek area was at one time, full of very large trees and logging went full steam until around 1930, then the area was opened up to German-speaking Immigrants who came from the USSR through Mexico and also from the Canadian prairies. They worked very hard to create garden farms, dairy farms, and fruit orchards. This is still quite evident and as you drive through the area.  Read More….

 

 

Bowser

Bowser, Vancouver Island was named after William John Bowser, John was the premier of British Columbia from 1915 to 1916. The community was established in 1914, during the construction of the  Nanaimo Railway. The economy of this little community has run on logging and mining for many years but it is becoming a tourist destination these days. There are many opportunities to get out into the areas wild places and find great adventures. Read More….

 

 

Brentwood Bay

Brentwood Bay, Vancouver Island is located in Saanich Inlet north of Victoria, it is home to the beautiful Butchart Gardens. You will find excellent restaurants, waterfront shops and fantastic boutiques here in the bay. There are many whale watching tour outfits that run out of Brentwood Bay, there are so many whales, orcas, grey, humpback and fin whales that you will likely see some.   Read More….

 

 

Campbell River

For many, many years the Coast Salish lived on the shores of the Campbell River, Vancouver Island area, then for some reason, in the early Campbell River 1800s, they left their villages here and moved to the Comox and Qualicum areas. Then the Kwakiutl First Nations from further north on the Island moved south and occupied the vacated lands left by the Salish. In the early 1880s, the first European settlers started to set up shop in the Campbell River area.  Read More….

 

 

Chemainus

Chemainus is a small, but quite a beautiful town located in the Cowichan Valley. It is an artist mecca, you can see this by the huge murals that are painted everywhere in the town. The town has been nicknamed “Mural town” and is known worldwide for these paintings that bring to life the history of the first peoples, as well as the early days of logging, mining, and fishing. Read More….

 

 

Coal Harbour

The Coal Harbor Village is located on the Holberg Inlet, just a short drive on a paved road from Port Hardy. It was a coal-mining town, then a military base during the second world war, a whaling station, then back to mining, only this time copper, now this community is a jumping-off point for Quatsino sound and all the wonders of the North Island. Tourism is driving the economy now. Read More….

 

 

Comox

Comox is a beautiful little community of around 13,000 people. It is located on the Comox Peninsula on the eastern shores of Vancouver Island. Abundant food sources, mild winters, protected shorelines, fertile soil, and warm summers drew the Comox first people here many thousands of years ago. Settlers first began arriving in 1862. First to arrive were the loggers, soon followed by farmers and fishermen. Read More….

 

 

Coombs

During the early part of the twentieth century, nearly a quarter of a million English and Welsh families immigrated to Canada. A few of these families settled in the Coombs area around 1910y. The community they built was named Coombs. Today, it is full of people who live a more laid back way of life that can only be provided in a place like Coombs. It is an artist mecca with more galleries, studios and artists per capita than anywhere else in BC. Read More….

 

 

Courtenay

Courtenay is located on the eastern shores central Vancouver Island. Built on land that was occupied by the Comox people for thousands of years. It has a population of around 25000. It is the center of the much bigger Comox Valley. Comox Valley incorporates Courtenay, Comox, and Cumberland, combined, they have a population of more than 65,000. Courtenay is full of small shops, great dining and wonderful parks and walking trails. Read More….

 

 

Cowichan Bay

The Cowichan Bay Village is located on the east coast of southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This has to be one of the prettiest villages on the east coast of the island. The shops and B & B’s that line the shore are just so wonderful. You must make a visit to Cowichan bay a must-do on your bucket list. The businesses that line the waterfront are such beautiful little shops, restaurants, b&b’s, kayak rental shops, gift stores, and ice-cream parlors, it’s such a great place to visit. Read More….

 

 

Crofton

In  1902, Henry Croft began mining copper on mount sicker, he built a smelter in the bay and brought in 400 workers to operate the smelter. He built housing and named the new community Crofton. He was shipping his copper our out from the bay, this had quite the effect on the area’s beaches, the residue from the smelter was small black glass beads and they blackened the beaches, if you used the beach, these glass beads would stick to your feet, hands and any other body part that came into contact with the beach. Read More….

 

Ditidaht

The Ditidaht village is right on Nitinat lake, services in Ditidaht include a small motel, gas station, campsite, and a food store, all are run by the Ditidaht peoples. Camping facilities are available at the lake recreation site that is situated in a grove of giant spruce trees, there 53 campsites here. Drive through the village to reach this site. There is a boat launch about halfway down the lake, close to Doobah creek where you can put in to shorten the run down the lake. Read More….

 

 

Duncan

The city of Duncan is named after William Duncan, a pioneer who moved from Ontario to BC in May 1862. He arrived in the Cowichan Bay area along with about a hundred other settlers that were looking to settle on Vancouver Island. He settled close to the present city location and built a little farm, it became a stop on the Island Railway and was known as Duncan’s stop. Read More….

 

 

Gold River

When the Gold River Village was built in 1965, it was the first all-electric town in Canada and the first in Canada to incorporate underground wiring. It was incorporated on August 26, 1965, and received village status on January 1, 1972. Gold River is one of the Jewels of Vancouver Island, a must-see area. When you visit, I can honestly say, you will not be disappointed. Read More….

 

 

Holberg

Today, Holberg is a great place to set out on a west coast adventure. There numerous trails that head out in many directions, trails to Shushartie bay, San Josef Bay and Cape Scott will give you more than you could ever ask for. Ocean kayaking and canoeing are becoming quite popular and the area is perfect for this. The potential for eco-tourism in this area is immense and is just beginning but you just wait, this place will become a mecca when it gets. Read More….

 

 

Jordan River

The tiny Jordan River Village is located on the West Coast of southern Vancouver Island. Jordan River lies about 40 km north of Sooke. It is a great place to surf, surfing on Vancouver Island is a cold, wild and rough sport, sometimes the winds can be over 120 km an hour with some mighty waves. The water temperatures can be so low that hypothermia can set in very fast, just minutes and poor access to the best surfing beaches make surfing here a challenge for sure. Read More….

 

 

Kelsey Bay

When l was a lad of about 10 years old, l used to spend a fair bit of time up in Kelsey Bay, my brother in law was the head chef in the mac/blo logging camp that was right on the bay. This was a big camp, the cook shack was like a hotel. The food was better than any hotel though. Several of my other brothers logged here as well. I began my logging career across the straight on Hardwick Island. Read More….

 

 

Ladysmith

Ladysmith is located on the east side of Vancouver Island, right on the 49th parallel, just south of Nanaimo. It is a small but very picturesque town that is built on a hillside overlooking the waters of Ladysmith harbor. It is one of the older communities on Vancouver Island. In its early days, it was known as Oyster Harbor. The harbor was at one time just a miners camp and shipping port for coal, now its economy runs on tourism. Read More….

 

 

Lake Cowichan

Lake Cowichan is located 31 km west of Duncan at the headwaters of the Cowichan River. Cowichan Lake is one of the largest bodies of freshwater on Vancouver Island. It is an incredibly beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. The hiking trails around town and around the lake are plentiful and there are trails for all levels of ability, the birdlife will make any birder happy and you could see black bears, elk, deer, cougars, wolves and many other kinds of wildlife. Read More….

 

 

Lantzville

Lantzville is such a pleasant little community, its located just north of Nanaimo. It was named after Harry Lantz. In the late 1800s, he invested heavily in mining here. Before the mines were opened, there was not much going on in the area. There were just 8 families homesteading along the shores. When the mines began operating, there was quite an influx of miners and new settlers, businesses began to spring up to provide services for the mines and to offer trade goods to the miners. Read More….

 

 

Merville

Merville is a small community located in between the Comox Valley and Campbell River. The village was named after a place in France, the Canadian Forces built their original headquarters there during WWI and upon their return, they named the area Merville in honor of this. The government had offered land to the soldiers and their families here and other island spots like Seal Bay on their return from fighting in Europe. Read More….

 

 

Mill Bay

Mill Bay Vancouver Island was first settled in the 1860s, its economy ran on logging and milling lumber. Mill Bay was also the location of a power generating station for Henry Shepard’s sawmill. Logs were brought to the mill by train. The terrain was rough and many trestles had to be built. The highest surviving timber trestle in North America at 40 m high and 187 m long is the kinsol trestle just outside Mill Bay. It was built in 1911 and has survived through fire and flood. Read More….

 

 

Mount Washington

I struggled with the idea of putting Mount Washington under the tourist listings as an island community. But after much thought, I realized that if it has all the amenities of a village, then a village it must be. You can rent a hotel room, buy food or gifts in shops, eat in fine dining establishments or get a beer and burger in a pub. You can rent a condo or buy a house here, you can even rent a mountain bike and go riding. Read More….

 

 

Nanaimo

Nanaimo is located on the east coast of southern Vancouver Island. It is B.C.s sixth-largest city, it is also called the harbor city. It is a modern city with a great nightlife but you can go biking, swimming, hiking, boating, sailing, kayaking, scuba diving here and from the harbor, you can view wildlife, birds, whales, seals, sea lions and many other creatures. This is a great place. Read More….

 

 

Nanoose Bay

The first settler to arrive in the Nanoose Bay Vancouver Island area, the year was John Enos, he arrived in 1862.  He cleared the land himself, creating a wonderful home that he named the Notch Hill Ranch. He continued to live in Nanoose Bay for 27 years, farming and helping others to settle here. As more settlers arrived, the community grew. Read More….

 

 

Parksville

The Parksville area has lots to do and see, there is so much history here and its celebrated at the Craig Heritage Park & Museum, this a pretty awesome little museum, loaded with the area history, did you know that they would use snowshoes on their horses because the snow would get so deep, well me neither but this and so much more can be learned at this museum. Read More….

 

 

Port Alberni

The city of Port Alberni, Vancouver Island is located at the head of Alberni Inlet on Vancouver Island. Its economy has historically been mining, fishing, and logging, but today it is tourism, Port Alberni is sitting at the head of the longest inlet on Vancouver Island and is the hub to the central west coast of Vancouver Island. Read More….

 

 

Port Alice

Port Alice is surrounded by lush rain forests that are filled with wildlife like black bears, cougars, sea otters, mink and many others, a place of pristine wilderness that just beckons to outdoor enthusiast and a wild west coast sea that is filled with wildlife that includes Orcas, gray whales, porpoises, seals and Stellar sea lions. Returning salmon fill Neroutsos Inlet during spawning season.  Read More….

 

 

Port Hardy

Port Hardy Vancouver Island is the largest community on the North Island. The first settlers came to the Port Hardy area at the turn of the century, Alec Lyon and his wife Sarah opened a store and post office on the east side of Hardy Bay in 1904, not far from the existing settlement of Fort Rupert on the shores of nearby Beaver Harbor. Read More….

 

 

Port McNeil

Port McNeil Vancouver Island sits on the edge of the Broughton Archipelago, on the northeast side of Vancouver Island. It is surrounded by misty rain forests, spectacular mountains, rushing rivers and serene lakes. The community has a resource-based economy, but it is balanced with a great tourism industry that will continue to grow and prosper. Read More….

 

 

Port Renfrew

Port Renfrew Vancouver Island is a great place to get away too, there is so much to do here. There is awesome wildlife viewing here, both marine and terrestrial, you will find big sandy beaches, raging rivers, beautiful lakes, great camping, winter surfing, and some of the biggest trees in the world. It’s one of those places you should see at least once in your life. Read More….

 

 

Qualicum Beach

Qualicum Beach is known as the Garden Village. The town has been a repeat winner in the Communities in Bloom competition. You can see why as you stroll through town. There are flowers and hanging baskets everywhere and it is always so clean. It’s a beautiful little community. The Qualicum Beach Museum has an incredible fossil collection, including a 70,000-year-old walrus skeleton excavated from a nearby beach, they call her Rambling Rosie. Read More….

 

 

Saanichton

Saanichton is located on the Saanich Peninsula, on the southeast side of Vancouver Island. Saanichton is a place of rose gardens and farms, forests and estates. It’s a very beautiful place. Saanichton is a small, well-maintained community where rural and urban lifestyles come together. Saanichton is just a 20 km drive north of downtown Victoria. Read More….

 

 

Shawnigan Lake

Shawnigan Lake Village is located on southern Vancouver Island, 5 km west of Mill Bay and 45 km north of Victoria. Shawnigan Lake Village is known for its artists and craft people. Built on the eastern shore of the lake, the village has two small general stores, a couple of restaurants, several beaches, a barbershop, and a wonderful little museum. There are several more beaches and picnic sites at various spots along the lake. Read More….

 

 

Sooke

Sooke is located just 60 minutes from Victoria’s, along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. There are many things to do here as a tourist, you could hire a guide to go fishing, go surfing, hiking, whale watching, mountain biking, or bird watching here. You could also just walk on our beautiful beaches for a great day of exploration. Read More….

 

 

Sydney

Sidney is located on southern Vancouver Island, on the Saanich Peninsula, the town is a beautiful little community. This busy little town is the business hub of the Saanich Peninsula. It was at one time, a small farming community. The heavily wooded forests of the areas early past created a logging and sawmill boom. The economy now runs on tourism and it is a tourist’s destination for sure, it is a friendly town with many great shops, restaurants, boutiques, and marinas. Read More….

 

 

Tahsis

Tahsis is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island,  there is a good gravel road that runs from Gold River to Tahsis now, but when l was a boy, there was no road then and you ether flew or took the Uchuck boat into town. The Tahsis Inlet and the surrounding Rugged Mountains are becoming well known for mountain climbing, hiking, caving, bird watching, and wildlife viewing. You should come out for a visit and don’t forget your camera. Read More….

 

 

Telegraph Cove

Telegraph Cove’s first industry was a lumber mill and salmon saltery in the early 20th Century. It acquired its name in 1912 when the Superintendent of Telegraphs was looking for a north island community for the northern terminus of the telegraph line from Campbell River, this little Cove was perfect for the job and became known as Telegraph Cove. Read More….

 

 

Tofino

Tofino is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The town is in the Clayoquot Sound area, this sound measures about 400,000 hectares in land and marine inlets. The Nuu-chah-nulth First Peoples have made Clayoquot Sound their home for many thousands of years. The Village of Opitsaht on Meares Island has been continuously inhabited for at least the past 5,000 years. Read More….

 

 

Ucluelet

Ucluelet, about 80 km from Port Alberni, is located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, at the westerly entrance of Barclay Sound, it is not a new settlement by any means. In 1899, there were about fifteen settlers living here. The First Peoples have lived here continuously for at least the last 5000 years. Read More….

 

 

Victoria

Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria BC is one of the older cities in the Pacific Northwest and is the capital of B.C., Canada. World-renowned for its gardens, Victoria is often referred to as the garden city, a city of gardens, ocean vistas and mild year-round West Coast climate. Victoria and its surrounding communities are a mix of cityscapes, towns, and farmland.  Read More….

 

 

Winter Harbor

Winter Harbor Village got its name from the merchant sailing ships of the 1700s. During the winter months, the cove was used for protection from the storms. Winter Harbor is still very active along its waterfront. The commercial fleet still puts it to good use and its a destination for tourism and a put in for small boats, kayaks and a port for sailboats during the summer months. Read More….

 

 

Woss

Woss is a pretty little village, more of a logging camp than a town though. It was built during the time of the train logging era and up until the end of 2017 was still using trains to haul logs.  They shut that down in 2017 after there was a tragic accident involving a runaway loaded log car, 3 workers lost their lives with others being seriously injured.  One must wonder if this is what so quickly ended the train era. Read More….

 

 

Youbou

Youbou is located on the north shore of Cowichan Lake on Vancouver Island. The Lake is over 30 km long, and one of the largest bodies of freshwater on Vancouver Island. Formerly called Cottonwood, it was renamed Youbou in 1914 in honor of 2 of its employees, one was the general manager, a man named Mr. Yount and Mr. Bouten, who was the president of the company. It was built to house the mill employees. Read More….

 

 

Zeballos

Zeballos was a small, west coast fishing village until 1924, at this time a small gold vein was found. It attracted prospectors from around the country. The vein proved to be very difficult to get at and after a number of years, the mine was abandoned. Then in 1934, a substantial gold vein was discovered by Albert Bird. Albert subsequently sold the claim to a Victoria mining company, turned out to be a bad move on his part as this mine was soon producing between 30 and 40 ounces of gold per ton of ore. Read More….

 

 

Victoria, Vancouver Island Communities. Pacific Northwest
Victoria, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

Vancouver Island is the largest island on the west coast of North America. It is a little over 32,000 square kilometers in size and is 460 kilometers in length, 35 to 80 kilometers wide. There are many Vancouver Island communities just waiting for you to visit.

The Island is separated from the B.C. coast by several straights, the Juan De Fuca Strait on the south end of the island, the Johnston Straight on the central island and Queen Charlotte Strait on the north end of the Island.

The west coast of the island is a wild and wetland covered by ( historically) ancient forests of huge trees. Some of the worlds tallest trees still grow there. The west coast is cut by many inlets that have mountains bordering them that start at the sea and go straight up to the sky. The average height of these mountains is 800 metres with some like Mount Golden Hinde, Vancouver Islands Highest mountain exceeding heights of 2200 metres.

Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island Communities, Pacific Northwest
Port Renfrew, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, photo by Bud Logan

The Pacific storms that pound the west coast throughout the year and more so in the winter months are laden with moisture that must be dropped in order to rise up and over the Island mountains. So the west coast receives much more rain than the east coast of the island. Truly a rain forest. The west coast is spotted with small islands, hot springs and many large rivers reach the sea there. An incredibly beautiful place. A place of waterfalls and hidden lakes. A place of mists and trees. A place of wonder.

The southeastern shores of the island have the biggest centers, including two of BC’s biggest cities, Nanaimo and Victoria. There is much to offer in these communities, great accommodations, dining, shopping and many various outdoor adventures that are just waiting to take you on a journey of a lifetime.

Tofino, Vancouver Island Communities, Pacific Northwest
Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, photo by Robert Logan

The west coast Vancouver Island communities are small and isolated, some are only reachable by boat or seaplane. All have resource-based economies of fishing and logging. Although tourism is steadily increasing and has the potential to build new eco-tour based economies, like whale watching and wildlife photography. This, in turn, creates a need for the supporting businesses needed to accommodate the increase of tourists like lodging and restaurants as well as guides and tour operators that could sustain their tax needs to survive. Just look at Tofino as one example, their economy runs on tourism.

The east coast of the Island from Campbell River down to the south Island has a very different type of terrain with broad gently sloping shelves that go from the sea to the eastern slopes of the Island mountains. Deep, slow-moving, nutrient-rich rivers that are teeming with fish, empty into the sea, building deltas of rich farmland.

Most of the Islands peoples live from Campbell River down the east coast of the island to Victoria on the southern tip of the Island. Victoria is the Capital of B.C. and basically has an economy based both on Government employment and tourism as well as some resource-based industries. There is a strong agriculture presence on the east coast of the Island and dairy farms dot the south Island.

Victoria, BC Coastal Region, Vancouver Island Communities.
Victoria, Vancouver Island Communities, photo by Bud Logan

Technology-based companies are setting up shop on the south island, l think because the cost of doing business in B.C. is very competitive, the size of our bigger centers and the quality of trained employees is quite impressive, and it could be because Vancouver Island is one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have a slower pace here on the island.

The north end of the island is still very much resource-based with logging, mining and fishing and the spin-off industries being the main form of employment. Tourism is starting to make a marked increase in the tax bases of local communities and l am sure will continue to have an increase on these economies in the future. Some communities have fully embraced tourism with incredible results.

The Islands coastline is 3440 kilometers long and has many hidden bays, inlets, and river deltas. 15,000 years ago the Island was buried under a vast glacial ice sheet and by the time the ice left, the Island was already separated by the inside passage. Most of the animal species of B.C. did not make it on the island and there are only 36 mammal species that inhabit the island. The surrounding sea has about 28 species of marine mammals including the majestic humpback and grey whales.

The Island is on the Pacific flyway, each spring and fall the island is visited by hundreds of thousands of birds who are migrating from or to their summer nesting grounds. around 450 species of birds visit each year.

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