Qualicum Beach’s Heritage Forest

Trail and sitting bench in Heritage Forest, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Well-groomed trails wend their way through the 50-acre Heritage Forest

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.

Entryway to Heritage Forest, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The main entrance to the Heritage Forest is well-marked

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.

Old growth stump in Heritage Forest, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Signs of days long-gone – notches left by loggers in old growth stumps

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.

Information plaque in Heritage Forest, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Information plaques throughout the Heritage Forest explain the intricacies of the eco-system

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.

Woodpecker holes in tree in Heritage Forest, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

There is no lack of wildlife in the Heritage Forest – the large holes in this tree have been created by woodpeckers searching for sustenance

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.

Information board in Heritage Forest, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The eco-system of the Heritage Forest is illustrated on this large information board

The Heritage Forest of Qualicum Beach welcomes visitors with dogs, but due to the fragile ecosystem canine companions must be kept on leash.

Beach Creek in the Heritage Forest, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

A view of Beach Creek, which runs through the Heritage Forest

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

Shirley

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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