Qualicum Beach: the quintessential small town



Floral displays abound throughout the village during the summer

The charming village of Qualicum Beach has been a popular tourist destination for many generations, and with good reason. Perched on the east coast of Vancouver Island, a pleasant two-hour drive north of Victoria, Qualicum Beach has much to offer to both residents and visitors.
The ‘business district’ of the village offers up an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, galleries and outdoor spaces. It has pretty much everything anyone could need in the way of retail services, but you will be spared the garish signage and overwhelming spaces that are the hallmarks of big box stores and franchise operations – there simply aren’t any of those in this community of 8,000. In fact, the local Chamber of Commerce brochure makes a point of celebrating ‘the beauty of small,’ which in Qualicum’s case means a comfortable, safe and very walkable downtown core of nine square blocks. The summertime offers up a profusion of colourful blooms throughout the retail area as business owners and township employees fill and maintain glorious hanging baskets and storefront and streetside planters. The ‘shop local’ mantra is strongly supported in Qualicum Beach, and residents seldom venture out shopping without running into a friend or acquaintance; it’s not unusual to see people stopping for a chat on the streets or in the stores. In other words, Qualicum Beach is the quintessential small town, full of great places, friendly customer service and quality cultural events.
Qualicum Beach’s popular sandy beach, located a two-minute drive down the hill from the

A kayaker enjoys a summer evening at the beach

town, is a favourite spot in the summer for family-friendly gatherings. Sturdy picnic tables on wide expanses of immaculately-kept lawns bordering the beach are well-utilized by dozens of groups enjoying outdoor meals, and kayak rentals offer a different experience for those who prefer to hit the water. The past couple of years have seen the summer-time instigation of the Shop to Shore shuttle bus, which transports visitors hourly from the waterfront into the village free of charge picking up those headed back to the waterfront on its circle route.
While the ‘off season’ sees fewer visitors to Qualicum Beach, there is nonetheless still plenty to do and see. There is a very active music community in the town, and the local Echo Players stage quality theatre productions on a regular basis. The Old School House cultural centre, located right in the centre of the village, offers up a varied menu of exhibitions and musical events year-round.
For those more interested in the natural world, the oceanfront offers up a continually-changing panorama. It’s not unusual to see dozens of fish boats at work; herring season, usually in early March, heralds the beginning of Spring in the area and brings a sense of excitement and anticipation. Wildlife along the waterfront abounds, and there is always something going on in that department. Seals, sea lions, bald eagles and blue herons are among regular visitors along the water’s edge.
Qualicum Beach is home to many charming bed-and-breakfast accommodations, along with boutique hotels and casual waterfront inns, cottages and lodges that offer up a variety of vacation possibilities. Be sure to check out this charming place – you won’t regret it!
The best place to start is at the Qualicum Beach Visitor Centre, located on the waterfront just off Highway 19A. across from the Shell service station.
The GPS co-ordinates are: Lat. 49.35589419029323 Long. -124.4402289390564
                                                N 49 21.354    W 124 26.414

For more information about the town and what’s going on there, go to:



About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.
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One Response to Qualicum Beach: the quintessential small town

  1. Cloud Sailor says:

    Several places that would like to be on your page/site: Old City Organics Grocery Store, Nanaimo,BC & Big Tree Cottage, Quadra Island,BC Thanks

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