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Qualicum Beach, BC

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Walking around Qualicum Beach, you're bound to marvel about how quaint the town is. With a unique blend of boutiques, shops, galleries and restaurants, there is a distinct lack of big box or franchise stores around. Further adding to the appeal is an array of flowers, trees, gardens and planters at each and every corner alluding to the numerous natural attractions such as Milner Gardens and Woodland. Another reason to visit Qualicum Beach is its range of stunning art galleries featuring many local artisans.

Getting to Qualicum Beach

If you are flying to the Comox Valley Airport, Qualicum Beach is a mere 54 min (76.4 km) via the Inland Island Hwy/BC-19 S. If you are taking the ferry to from the Lower Mainland to Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach is located just 47 kilometers north. .

History and Climate

Qualicum Beach was named by its first inhabitants; the word 'Qualicum' means 'where the Dog Salmon run' according to the Pentlatch language. However, when the Spanish naval explorers arrived in the 1790s, they named a majority of the area Punta de Leonards. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the late 19th century that Qualicum Beach received the attention it deserved. After the Hudson's Bay Company opened its offices in Victoria and Nanaimo in 1843 and 1852 respectively, the company sent Adam Grant Horne to find a land route to the West Coast. That's when he discovered a route across Vancouver Island from the town, which later became the Horne Lake Trail which was used by settlers and traders heading to Alberni.

As for the native Qualicum Indians, many had been massacred at the mouth of the Qualicum River. However, this didn't deter the Indians to fish, hunt, and pick berries from the area. Some even shifted to Nanaimo in hopes of getting work. Two native Indians did make a name for themselves around the end of the 19th century: Qualicum Tom and his wife Qualicum Annie. While Tom offered his canoe for hire to cross Horne Lake, the couple operated a hotel and store to tend to travellers' needs.

In 1864, botanist and explorer Robert Brown helmed the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition through the area. Though the area was deserted due to the 1862 small pox epidemic, he praised the land and helped drive the first settlers there by the 1880s. Numerous roads and even the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway were built to connect Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

With time, golf links, hotels and schools were built in Qualicum Beach. This prompted authorities to incorporate it as a village by 1942 and then change its status to town by 1983. The area then flourished with new housing subdivisions and a new highway. However, it remains true to its historical identity with 12 buildings listed on the National Historic Register.

As for the climate, Qualicum Beach tends to experience cool wet winters with most of the year's precipitation (80-85%) recorded between October and April. On average, the highest temperatures are 32°C from May to September while the lowest are 5.2°C between November and April. Interestingly, despite winter precipitation increasing moisture levels at the beginning of the growing season, July and August tend to be drought prone.

Qualicum Beach Activities

While the nightlife is close to non-existent in Qualicum Beach, activities such as hiking, ocean kayaking and boutique shopping will keep you on your toes. One of the best places to enjoy views of the ocean is from inside the Qualicum Beach Visitor Center, which offers maps, brochures and even help with booking your accommodations.

If you're a history buff, you can learn more about your vacation destination from the . You will especially appreciate its fossil collection which includes Rambling Rosie, a 70,00 year-old pre-historic walrus skeleton. Other heritage properties worth visiting are: the Village Theatre, Old School House, Powerhouse Building, St. Mark's Anglican Church, and The White House.

If you appreciate arts and culture, get ready for a range of local events and seasonal displays that attract thousands of people every year. For instance, in February, you can attend a featuring food and flowering plants and seeds grown in the area. You can also participate in the annual event in May, sampling traditional chili and other hot foods while enjoying beautiful ice sculptures and tapping away to great music from local bands.

For retail therapy try shopping at the town center's boutiques, coffee shops and galleries. You're also welcome to swim in the temperate ocean waters, rent a kayak or go on guided sailing trips or charter fishing expeditions. If you prefer to stay on land, you can head to the only mini-golf course in town, book a guided horseback trail ride, or opt for an adventure on Mount Arrowsmith or inside Horne Lake's caves.

Qualicum Beach Accommodation and Dining

There are a variety of accommodations available in Qualicum Beach including inns, cottages and resorts, many of which offer access to the beach or at least allow you to enjoy an oceanic view. You can also book a guest house if you're planning on staying in the area for a longer time. If you're interested in something unique and have the budget to support your choice, don't miss your chance to stay at one of the unique tree houses suspended in the nearby forest.

If you further want to cut your accommodation expenses, you can pack your tent and set it up in wooded glades or next to water surfaces such as the Horne Lake. Better yet, park your RV at the Horne Lake Regional Park to enjoy the natural sights and sounds of Qualicum Beach.

As for food, you can grab a wide range of edibles at the award-winning Qualicum Foods or hang out there with the locals for a cafeteria-style meal. You can also head to the Qualicum Farmer's Market from May to mid-October to get raw takeaway produce. For a more formal meal, try out the offerings from many of the local cafes or one of the many ethnic restaurants including Thai, American, Japanese and British cuisine.

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