It’s not very big, but there is a treasure of a park tucked away in the Nanoose area that is a secret favourite of the locals. Brickyard Park is a five-acre (2 hectare) chunk of rocky waterfront outcrop that offers spectacular views of the Winchelsea Islands, wildlife viewing, swimming, scuba diving and kayaking….or a place to simply sit and contemplate life.
The park was dedicated by the developers of the upscale Fairwinds development in Nanoose. Surrounded by expensive waterfront homes perched on the cliffs on either side, Brickyard Park (or Brickyard Bay, or Brickyard Cove, as it is sometimes known) is overseen by the Nanaimo Regional District. The trails are rudimentary at best, but a little exploration reveals pretty views from various points, and a wealth of vegetation ranging from Garry Oaks to arbutus trees.
The name for Brickyard Park comes from its history. In 1911 enterprising pioneers in the area began hauling clay from the surrounding fields to the tiny protected bay area. Barges hauled coal to the site to fire the kilns, and were then utilized to haul away the finished bricks to world markets. More than a century later there are still remnants of the bricks to be found embedded in tree roots and some of the pathways. The clearing of the clay laid the base for what is now the local golf course, although it took many years before that facility and the surrounding residential development would become a reality. Original plans to develop a high-end community on the 1350 acres now known as Fairwinds were spawned in 1929. But, of course, there couldn’t have been a worse time for developers to be planning such an initiative and over the years the land reverted to livestock pasture. The property changed hands a number of times, and more recent developments have seen the original dream becoming reality.
We spent about an hour knocking about at Brickyard Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and saw only two other people. There are benches perched in various locations that allow different views of water, outlying islands and mountains – a perfect spot for a picnic on a warm day. The small bay where the brickworks was actually located offers a pretty, protected gravel beach. And a wander up through the forest reveals bits of brick and moss-covered footings that were obviously part of the actual brickworks.
While the walking at Brickyard Park isn’t particularly arduous the trails are, as mentioned earlier, pretty rudimentary. To get to the best observation spots be prepared to take your time and work your way over rocky outcrops. Good footwear is a must. It will all be worth the effort and extra care though – this sweet little hideaway park is one of the Island’s most enchanting.
To get to Brickyard Park you need to get to Amberwood Lane, which is off Andover Road in Nanoose. There is a sign for the park at the trailhead.
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.275667 Long. -124.120206
N 49 16.540 W 124 07.212