Get to know our Comox Valley Communities
Our Comox Valley communities offer a terrific place to live. The Comox Valley weather is one of the most temperate climates in Canada. 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. This part of the website provides information on the communities of the Comox Valley. As well, it provides information on the real estate that is available for sale in each of these communities.
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.
Significant effort was made to corroborate the information presented below. Readers are encouraged to advise me of any sources of better, or more complete information, so the information presented on our Comox Valley communities is as accurate as possible. The intent of this section is to provide a wide variety of information on the Comox Valley and Comox Valley community organizations so that people who are not familiar with our valley can get a better sense of what is has to offer. Comox Valley neighbourhood videos are also available. Contact Brett for personal and first hand experience with life in the Comox Valley.
In the following sections I will provide an overview of the Comox Valley, our communities, and our real estate market. If you would like to know more about Vancouver Island please go to the bottom of this webpage.
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 occured in 1792 when the Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Discovery anchored in the Comox Harbour.
The Comox Harbour
Interestingly, the sign erected at the Comox Harbour to describe its history does not mention either of these aformentioned 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.
|Welcome to the Comox Valley – 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.|
|Courtenay, BC was named after Rear-Admiral Courtenay who surveyed the area from 1846-1849. The city was born on the East side of the Courtenay River in the 1880s. Circa 1900 saw the construction of a sawmill on the West side of the river, followed by the first bridge and subdivision. The City was incorporated on the 1st of January 1915. Courtenay is a city of about 22,500 people that is located approximately half-way up Vancouver Island. For those travelling to Courtenay by road, BC Ferries operates ferries from Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) to the Departure Bay terminal in Nanaimo and from Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver) to the Duke point terminal south of Nanaimo in order to get to Vancouver Island. From Nanaimo, Courtenay is about an hour and 15 minutes drive north along highway 19 (a four-lane highway that runs north from Nanaimo through to Campbell River (approximately 30 minutes drive north of Courtenay). Courtenay is also accessible by air via the air terminal located near the south side of CFB Comox (only 5 miles from downtown Courtenay). Courtenay is the urban centre of the Comox Valley and the contact point for the Miki’Siw Metis Association.|
|Comox, BC is a town of about 12,000 people that is located 3.5 miles from downtown Courtenay and 4 miles from Canadian Forces Base Comox. Both the base and the town are located on the Comox Peninsula. The town operates several marinas in the Comox Harbour that accomodate commercial fishing vessels, sport fishing vessels, powered pleasure craft and sailboats. Comox is also the home of the K’omoks first nation. The town of Comox can be accessed via Highway 19 (exit 117 about 8 miles away) and Highway 19A (the scenic oceanside route that extends up the East Coast of Vancouver Island), by air (through the terminal located at the CFB Comox airfield, and by ferry from Powell River.|
|Canadian Forces Base Comox originally opened as a Royal Air Force Base in 1942. the base is located on the Comox Peninsula about 5 miles south of Courtenay and 4 miles east of Comox. This base employs more than 1300 people and in support of its operational missions – conduct Long-Range Patrols over the Pacific Ocean with its Aurora aircraft, and conduct Search and Rescue operations with its Cormorant helicopters. The base also provides support to CF18s, when they are deployed to the area from Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake Alberta, for the conduct of air surveillance patrols on the West Coast.|
|Cumberland, BC was founded in 1888 by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir. The settlement was originally named Union after the Union Bay Coal Compnay but changed to Cumberland in 1898. Many of the streets were named after the English coal-mining district of Cumberland. Cumberland housed an international force of coal miners, including one of the largest Chinese populations in the province. Coal mining ceased in 1966. This village is currenlty home to about 3000 people and it is located approximately 6 miles West of Courtenay and about 1 mile West of the highway 19. Comox Lake is located about 2 miles West of Cumberland. Mount Washington ski resort is 19 miles West of Cumberland while Strathcona Provincial Park lies further West. The village is nestled in the foothills of the Beaufort Mountain Range and near Comox Lake, a large glacier-fed, dammed lake accessed via Comox Lake road.|
|Royston, BC is a rural seaside village of about 1200 people located across the bay from Comox and approximately 3.5 miles South of Courtenay along highway 19A (also referred to as the Old Island Highway and Oceanside Route) towards Nanaimo. There is a sign erected on the Royston waterfront entitled the Ghost Ships of Royston. According to the Unerwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, there are at least 14 ships that were sunk, starting in 1936 (and continuing for 25 years) to act as breakwaters for log-booming operations in the Comox Bay across from Royston and the Town of Comox. The ships located near Royston are protected under the provincial Heritage Conservation Act.|
|Union Bay, BC is a small community of about 1200 people located approximately 9 miles south of Courtenay along Highway 19A and across from the North end of Denman Island and Sandy Island Marine Provincial Park. This unincorporated site is connected with the Union Bay Improvement District.|
|Fanny Bay, BC is a seaside community of about 800 people located approximately 17 miles south of Courtenay along highway 19A and across the strait separating Vancouver Island from Denman Island. Fanny Bay is known for its Fanny Bay Oysters and it is located just north of Rosewall Creek Provincial Park. Mud Bay is a shallow tidal bay south of Fanny Bay and it bounds the south end of the Comox Valley. There are about 125 people living in the area around Mud Bay.|
|Denman and Hornby Islands are located in the Strait of Georgia at the south end of the Comox Valley. Hornby Island has about 1000 inhabitants. Tribune Bay Provincial Park is located on the South end of Hornby Island and it is well known for its sandy beach and unusual rocky shorline formations. About 1100 people make Denman Island their home. BC Ferries operates a ferry from Buckley Bay (about 12 miles South of Courtenay) to Denman Island and between Denman and Hornby Island. Less than 200 people live in the Buckley Bay area.|
|Saratoga Beach (just south of the Oyster River) marks the northern part of the Comox Valley. Miracle Beach provincial park is further south and it is a popular park on Vancouver Island. There are about 1600 people living in the Saratoga Beach-Miracle Beach area. Merville, BC is a hamlet of about 2000 people located approximately 9 miles north of Courtenay along Highway 19A. Black Creek is a rural farming community another 4.5 miles further north.|
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 traihead 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.
While looking for your next home in the Comox Valley, you may need information on schools. The Elementary School Catchement area map and the Secondary School Catchment area map will open in a separate window to give you a sense of which schools service which areas.
Following is a link to the City of Courtenay Zoning Map that will open in a separate window. Select “Zoning Map” and you will be taken to a map that you can zoom in or out and move around to find specific areas in Courtenay. Following is a link to the Town of Comox Zoning Map that will open is a separate window. Following is the Zoning Map Index for the Comox Valley.
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