The story of Qualicum Beach’s 50-acre Heritage Forest is one of commitment, inspiration and a community that values natural beauty. There aren’t many towns of 8,800 that can boast of pristine forest lands right in their midst, but thanks to the dedication of the Town of Qualicum Beach and hundreds of volunteers, this unspoiled jewel continues to exist and thrive for all to enjoy.
The Heritage Forest of Qualicum Beach was originally part of a large parcel of land owned by the Merchants Trust and Trading Company. After the original six lots comprising what is now the forest changed hands a couple of times in the early 1900s they were purchased mid-century by Bobby Brown, who also owned an adjacent five acres with a mansion (now the Crown Mansion, a boutique hotel and small condominium development). Obviously a man who enjoyed his peace and quiet and who abhorred unbridled development, Brown purchased the municipal golf course lands as well to ensure that he would never be surrounded by subdivisions and/or commercial development.
When Bobby Brown died in 1972 his family sold the golf course to the village for a reasonable price. The mansion and surrounding 55 acres remained in the hands of the Brown Family Trust until 1995, when the decision was made to sell.
Thanks to the fact that a neighbouring resident was out for a stroll and discovered a stray piece of paper on the road, the Heritage Forest of Qualicum Beach exists today. The paper contained detailed plans for a 110-lot subdivision on the forest property. Obviously horrified, the local resident gathered together a group that dubbed itself the Brown Property Preservation Society. Between 1996 and 2004 hundreds of volunteers and the Township co-operated to raise the almost-$2 million purchase price for the 50 acres of forest. Fund-raising events of every sort imaginable were held until the goal was reached and the forest was saved.
The Heritage Forest is bounded by several of Qualicum Beach’s residential neighbourhoods, with the main entranceway facing across Crescent Road East to the municipal golf course. The property offers up a well-maintained intertwined network of shaded forest trails that are peaceful and safe; memorial benches are scattered along the trails for those who need to rest or simply relax in a lovely setting. Visitors interested in the flora and fauna of this area will be spellbound by the hundreds of natural features and the numerous information plaques that tell of the ecology of the region. It is a unique area of young and old-growth forest, and serves as home to many rare species of both animal and plant life. An information kiosk situated in the middle of the park provides those with a naturalist bent with all sorts of interesting information. A biologist for the Victoria Conservation Data Centre has designated the forest as a rare example of outstanding special ecological significance.
The Heritage Forest of Qualicum Beach welcomes visitors with dogs, but due to the fragile ecosystem canine companions must be kept on leash.
The Heritage Forest of Qualicum Beach can be accessed off Crescent Road East, just west of the Crown Mansion, which is located at 292 Crescent Road East.
GPS co-ordinates are (roughly):
Lat. 49.35388151335319 Long. -124.4347357749939
N 49 21.233 W 124 26.084