Thursday 29 May 2014

Echoes from the Past

Almost everywhere you go on Vancouver Island, the central BC Coast, and the islands in between the two, you are walking in the footsteps of someone else. Of course the First Nations of the coast spent time on most of the land, whether living there or travelling across it. But also through the 1800 and 1900s, many people came from all across the globe to try to make a living on the remote coastal frontier. Some things haven't changed much, as people still come here from across the globe to experience the raw wilderness that the BC Coast offers.

A case in point is one of the island's BC Oceanfront has for sale, Shewell Island. We had heard there was an old homestead site on it, but looking at aerial and shore photos that Ed took from a plane, we couldn't see it.

Recently Ed had the opportunity to walk Shewell, and because he knew he was looking for a homestead site, and he knew where it likely had been, he found the evidence he was searching for.

The amazing thing, is that this is common. Nature takes back our efforts so quickly out here in the temperate rain forest, that these homesteads quickly become covered and disappear to the casual eye. One of the last signs is often trees or plants that are not indigenous, such as these plants at Ronning's Garden up on northern Vancouver Island.

So many stories lay hidden under the moss and ferns and fallen trees on the coast. It is a testament to people's will power that they were here in the first place, with no electricity and no local transportation, but also it is a testament to the wilderness of the coast, that as hard as these people worked and as much as they cleared and chopped and harvested, nature can, at least on the surface, erase the footprints. Both of these things are what make the coast such a special place - the hardworking people and the awesome wilderness.
It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Pass It On! 

Thursday 22 May 2014

Food Diversity on Vancouver Island

While the majority of food consumed on Vancouver Island is imported from off the island, there is a definite push and interest to make a wide variety of foods more available through island growers and harvesters.

Every sizable community on the island has a market at least seasonally, featuring local growers and their goods. The Comox Farmers Market on Saturday mornings is a food-only market featuring over 30 vendors and running from April through October. Other markets feature local artisans as well as food, such as the Campbell River Market on Sundays.

The climate and topography of Vancouver Island lends itself to agriculture. There are certain areas, such as Central Saanich outside of Victoria, the Cowichan Valley and the Comox Valley, which have attracted a large number of farms, both livestock and produce. These areas have farm guides every year so people can easily find what they want at a local farm. But other areas are beginning to attract growers as well, including many of the smaller islands (Saltspring, Quadra) and smaller cities such as Campbell River.

Of course, food sources are also available for anyone to collect. With the correct licences and in the correct seasons seafood is available to anyone. Berries such as blackberries, thimble berries, salmon berries and huckleberries are prolific throughout the island. In some of the more remote areas it is not unheard of to come across wild apple and plum trees, left overs from a time when homesteaders worked the land all across the island.

Finally, there are the back yard gardens and greenhouses to be found in many back yards. The climate that allows so many farmers to grow on the island also allows hobby gardeners to grow their own food. Fruit trees are abundant in urban/suburban and rural areas. And many local municipalities are now allowing or considering back yard chickens.

Vancouver Island presents a great opportunity for people who are interested in local food and agricultural products;  from hothouse cucumbers to lettuce, tomatoes to potatoes, wine to bison and corn to strawberries and so much more, the Island growers provide.

Thursday 15 May 2014

Having Room for Your Lifestyle

Lots of people move to Campbell River, and the central/north Vancouver Island region, because of the lifestyle opportunities. Camping, boating, kayaking, hiking, atv-ing, mountain biking, skiing, hunting, fishing - the list goes on; as a home base, this region offers some of the most accessible outdoor activity area anywhere. Within 45 minutes of town one can be on a ski hill, at a beach, enjoying a lake, fishing a river, camping in a forest, or exploring the ocean and islands off shore.

With all that recreation, however, comes equipment. And if you are moving here to take advantage of the great outdoors, thinking about where you are going to keep your equipment is important.

Are you thinking of downsizing so you can spend time RVing? Then you need to have somewhere to store your RV. Coming here to fish on the ocean or lakes? Will you have a boat and if so, where will you keep it? Skis, ATVs, mountain bikes, kayaks - all need a place to sit when not in use.

Listings in this region should tell you if RV parking, extra outdoor space and good storage space is available. Most properties allow these types of outdoor items, although there are still some neighbourhoods that do not, so check if there are any covenants on the title restricting property use.

When you come to the area, come prepared to take advantage of all it offers and make sure your home allows you to easily access what you need. Whether that means a sturdy pair of walking shoes or a state-of-the-art RV beside the house is completely up to you!

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Pass It On!

Thursday 8 May 2014

BCO Coastal Hidden Gem: Alert Bay

Just off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island lies Cormorant Island. Accessible by boat, float plane or ferry, the island is home to the vibrant community of Alert Bay.

Alert Bay, like many west coast communities, is home to a fishing village and a First Nations community. Together the two communities have worked to build a destination town on this small coastal island.

To reach Alert Bay by ferry one must travel to Port McNeil on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. This three stop ferry runs between the communities of Alert Bay, Sointula on Malcolm Island, and Port McNeil, so it is best to check the schedule carefully!

Alert Bay offers a combination of wildlife viewing, fishing, laid back west coast relaxing and First Nations cultural experiences. Whether walking through the area to look at local landmarks, attending a First Nations traditional ceremony, or going on a whale watching excursion, one is sure to find a way to spend time in this community.

Alert Bay has a community health centre, a public works office, as well as most services and amenities. There are a number of options for accommodations, including a campsite. There is a free boat launch as well as a Municipal Dock and even an airstrip for those coming by private plane or charter.

Like many places on the coast, Alert Bay is a community of different cultures and experiences well worth visiting.
It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Pass It On!

Thursday 1 May 2014


Have you tried geocaching? This is a great way to engage with your surroundings wherever you may be, and is a fun way to explore. There are lots of opportunities to geocache on the BC Coast. It is a past-time that is accessible to everyone, regardless of fitness level, as caches can be found right in town, on the side of easy access trails, or deeper into the wilderness.

The international website for geocaching is This website is both a great introduction to geocaching and the place to go to find geocache locations. If you have a smart phone you can now download an app that allows you to hunt without a GPS unit!
Geocaching on local Campbell River trails.

Geocaching is a great family thing to do, especially with teenagers who aren't always so eager to get out on the trails. Promise them control of the electronics and the treasure hunt pulls them in soon enough!

Hunting for the cache!

This world-wide past time can give you something to do no matter where you visit, and is a great way to explore new areas. Try it out!

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Pass It On!