Coastal Communities, Pacific Northwest
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 1850’s, 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 ways 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 who’s job was to maintain the the local trails, repair the bridges and just general up keep. Apparently he had ordered some cedar planking to use for this purpose. When it arrived, there had been a mistake in the amount 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 build 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 must walk across to Brady’s Beach. 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. Its an easy walk with great directions along the way. You will not regret visiting here. It is a very impressive place to see.
Bamfield is 80 km from Port Alberni, along a fairly good logging road. You can take a boat trip from either Port Alberni or Ucluelet instead of driving.
There are numerous lakes and rivers in the area and the wildlife viewing is incredible, with bears and whales, seals and birds, you can spend all day just watching the eagles here.