Coastal Communities, Pacific Northwest
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.
During the 1792 exploration of Vancouver Island conducted by Captain Galiano and Captain Valdez, Clayoquot Sound’s southernmost inlet gained the name Tofino Inlet. The current town site of Tofino was officially established in 1909 on the Esowista peninsula, taking its name from Tofino Inlet. The village of Clayoquot up to this time, was the main settlement in the area. Clayoquot had been operating as a fur trading post on and off since the late 1850s. By the turn of the century it boasted a store, post office, hotel, saloon and dock.
By the 1880s homesteaders had begun to settle on the Esowista Peninsula, across the water from Clayoquot and the new town site of Tofino began to grow. The Anglican Church was built in 1913 after the Church of England requested the construction of a church on the most beautiful spot on Vancouver Island.
In 1959 a long-awaited logging road was build from Port Alberni. There were restrictions on the use of this road and you could only use it after 6 pm and on the weekends. By the late 60s young people arrived in droves, camping up and down long beach. In the spring, many would head out here for the be in, or gathering of hippies from all over, was a great time. I came many times to this event.
Today, Clayoquot Sound welcomes around a million visitors annually. Many coming in in March to view the 25,000 grey whales that pass through Clayoquot Sound en route from Baja to Alaska. There are many shore birds that travel through the area on their way north and in the fall, there are the returning salmon runs and the bears and birds that gorge on them.
The surfing here can be a lot of fun, winter being the best time for big waves, warmth is always an issue.