The Comox Valley

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Quality of Life in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, BC

Our Comox Valley communities offer a terrific place to live. The Comox Valley weather is one of the most temperate climates in Canada. Discover more about each of these Comox Valley communities by reading the information below. If you are not familiar with the Comox Valley, take a few minutes to watch the two videos below – Discover Comox Valley and the Comox Valley Escape. These videos were produced by Comox Valley Tourism Vancouver Island, British Columbia.



Increasingly, people from other parts of Canada are choosing to relocate to the Comox Valley for the quality of life that is offered out here on the West Coast.

Early History of the Comox Valley

The Comox Valley has changed greatly since the Elasmosaurus roamed this region of Vancouver Island. This marine reptile genus of plesiosaur used four flippers to propel itself through water and roam the land and sea during the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous era roughly 80.5 million years ago. Substantial change occurred in successive waves during the Earth shaping glacial ages between 650,000 years ago and the last “ice age” that gave way to warming about 20,000 years ago. The Comox Glacier remains as visible evidence of this “Fraser Glaciation”. The warming was followed by human inhabitation of North America by Paleo-Indians. Evidence of First Nations settlements in British Columbia dates back about 9000 years to the time when the climate stabilized.

The Salish word Komoux (original spelling of Comox) means “plenty”. This label became “Land of Plenty” as it was applied to what is now known as the Comox Valley by its original inhabitants. According to our local museum and paleontology centre Sir Francis Drake visited the area in 1579. This assertion is made based on research by Canadian Samuel Bawlf. Bawlf suggested, in his 2003 book The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake, 1577-1580 (ISBN 1-55054-977-4) that Drake’s reference to landing in what he called New Albion (the name of the region of the Pacific Coast of North America explored by Drake) was, in fact, what is now known as Comox on Vancouver Island. This conclusion, however, is not shared by other historians like Jules Verne and Samuel Johnson.

What does not appear to be contested is the claim that first contact in Comox between the original First Nations inhabitants and its European visitors took place in 1792 when the Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Discovery anchored in the Comox Harbour.

Interestingly, the sign erected at the Comox Harbour to describe its history does not mention either of these dates. It does mention that the Comox Harbour was used by the Royal Navy in the mid-1800s, that it played an important role in the maritime history of British Columbia, and that it was once known as Port Augusta. The sign discusses the arrival of James Robb in 1862, the construction of the wharf in 1874, and the subsequent growth of the community and Town of Comox (view my video below on the Comox Harbour to read the sign). The sign adds that this harbour provided the only means of connecting Comox to larger centres such as Nanaimo and Victoria until a connecting road was built in 1910. Four years later the E & N Railway connected Courtenay to these other locations.

Comox Valley Overview

This region of Vancouver Island comprises a greater than 660 square mile area that stretches to Mud Bay in the South, Saratoga beach in the North, the Strait of Georgia in the East, and the Beaufort Mountains in the West. This region is currently populated by about 60,000 people, and it comprises the communities of Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland, CFB Comox, Royston, Union Bay, Fanny Bay, Merville, Black Creek, and Saratoga Beach. The Comox Valley Regional District provides services to rural areas, and to urban areas in cooperation with municipalities. The Comox Valley Transit System is cost-shared between BC Transit and the regional district. The Comox Valley is served by School District 71 which provides elementary, middle, secondary and district wide schools and services. Our local hospital is St. Josephs General Hospital located in Comox. The Comox Valley offers diverse accommodations, dining, recreation, cultural, and leisure activities surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Canada.

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Comox Valley Activities

The Comox Valley is located about one-half way up Vancouver Island on the Eastern side. From this fairly central location, you will find an incredible number of things to do on the island.

Vancouver Island has been recognized by Conde Nast Traveller magazine as the Top North American Island for a number of years. The island is well known for its saltwater and freshwater fishing.From the Comox Valley you can lauch your boat into the Strait of Georgia and go after salmon, cod, snapper, halibut and other species of saltwater fish and shellfish. You can also fish a number of rivers for steelhead, and fish from the beach for pinks. Or, if you prefer, you can head out to one of the lakes and catch trout (rainbow and cutthroat). If you venture further you can go to the West, North, or South side of the island and catch fish as well.

Perhaps not as well known are the ancient coastal temperate rainforests with trees well over 1,000 years old, and some with bases more than 30 feet around. The largest trees are found in areas such as Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park (20 km northwest of Port Renfrew on the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island), Cathedral Grove (MacMillan) Provincial Park (25 km west of Qualicum Beach and 16 km east of Port Alberni on central Vancouver Island), and Clayquot Sound (on the West Coast opposite the Comox Valley).

Strathcona Provincial Park is the oldest Provincial Park in British Columbia. It was designated in 1911 and is located in almost the centre of Vancouver Island. Two areas of the park, Buttle Lake and Forbidden Plateau, offer developed areas for visitors while the rest of the park is mainly undeveloped. Buttle lake is home to Cutthroat, Dolly Vaden and Rainbow trout and can be accessed by following highway 19 north past Courtenay to Campbell River and then highway 28 west for about 48 km. Forbidden Plateau can be accessed by taking the Strathcona Parkway (exit #130 on highway 19 north of Courtenay) to the Mount Washington Ski Resort and then taking the Paradise Meadows trailhead at Mount Washington.

There are quite a number of good golf courses spread throughout the Comox Valley. Within Courtenay and Comox these include the Comox Golf Club (9-hole course that opened in 1913), Crown Isle Golf Club (par 72, 18-hole course), Glacier Greens (18-hole championship course), Longlands (18-hole par 3 course), Mulligans (executive length course with 6 par 3s and 3 par 4s) and Sunny Dale (18-hole course). Watch out for the deer on the courses on the Comox Peninsula.

From the Comox Valley it is possible to go fishing, skiing and golfing in the same day!

Our Valley offers many places to stay and eat, and you can hike, bike, swim and camp in a number of areas. Among a number of other things to do are museums (Air Force museum and the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre), the Rialto Movie Theatre, and the Sid Williams Theatre. Some of the events during the course of the year includes Canada Day in Courtenay, Nautical Days in Comox (end July), Empire Days in Cumberland (end May), the Comox Valley Exhibiton off Headquarters Road in Courtenay (end Aug), the Filberg Festival in Comox by the Filberg Lodge (end July), the Comox Valley Shellfish Festival (Mid June), Vancouver Island Music Fest (early July), the Big Day Up on Mount Washington (mid July) and the Big Time out near Cumberland (mid Aug).

There is always something to do in our Valley. If you want to chill out and relax, visit the pier at the Comox Marina, and sit and enjoy the view of the Beaufort Mountains and the Comox Glacier. Go out to Kye Bay Beach and sit and admire the Strait of Georgia and the Coast Mountains in the background. You may even catch a cruise ship heading north. Or head down to the Comox Spit, enjoy a fire on the beach and a spectacular panaramic ocean view. You can also visit a local brewery (Surgenor Brewing Company in Comox) or winery (Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery in Courtenay), (40 Knots Winery in Comox), (Blue Moon Estate Winery in Courtenay), (Coastal Black Winery in Black Creek), and on Hornby Island – Middle Mountain Mead, Carbrea Vineyard and Windery, and Hornby Island Winery, or the Shelter Point Single Malt Whisky Distillery just north of the Oyster River, and try some excellent local offerings. When you get hungry drop by one of our local orchards, berry and vegetable farms and farmers markets and pick up some locally grown food. To burn it off, head out to the hiking and biking trails at Seal Bay Nature Park on the Comox Peninsula or the meandering trails that follow the Puntledge River in Nymph Falls Park.

Clearly, there is much more to do on Vancouver Island. To find out what else you can do, browse through the online Vancouver Island Vacation Guide.