European settlers began to arrive on the east coast of Vancouver Island in the late 1800s, searching for homesteads or working in the logging and fishing industries. In the late 1890s, a road was constructed to connect Lighthouse Country to the small villages to the south (Qualicum and Parksville) and to the north (Courtenay and Comox), making the area more accessible to settlers.
Land grants given by the E&N Railway Company (which was taken over by Canadian Pacific in 1905) gave rise to many farming and logging settlements. Each of the settlement areas eventually became Deep Bay, Bowser, and Qualicum Bay.
Deep Bay is located on Highway 19A, 26 km (16 mi) north of Qualicum Beach in the area known as Lighthouse Country on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Lighthouse Country, named for the two lighthouses that mark its boundaries, stretches from Qualicum Bay to Deep Bay.
Rosewall Creek Provincial Park is situated along picturesque Rosewall Creek, south of Fanny Bay and north of Bowser. It has a wheelchair-accessible trail through the rainforest to a waterfall and picnic area. The park features a mixture of coniferous trees interspersed with striking broad leaf maple trees. One of the best times to visit this park is in the fall when the color of the maple leaves makes an attractive backdrop for photographers.
At Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park, you can experience the magic of the underground world in the many protected caves. The art of cave exploration is known as spelunking and Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park is the perfect place to discover this unique activity. From educational family-oriented tours to deep, dark adventure, the caves protected within this park offer something for everyone. Knowledgeable guides can lead visitors through the caves to discover this magical world of crystal formations and ancient fossils firsthand. Though the park has two small caves visitors can explore on their own, a guided tour of one of the larger caves offers more variety and a chance to learn about the cave's unique geology and history.
One of the best picnic sites in the area, Spider Lake is located west of Qualicum Beach and features a small sandy beach perfect for water lovers of all ages. The warm water of Spider Lake is noted for its excellent canoeing, kayaking and swimming and the park is an idyllic spot for a quiet family outing. Paddlers can spend a peaceful afternoon exploring the shoreline and the many secluded bays of this lake. Spider Lake is stocked with small mouth bass and Rainbow trout, providing fishing opportunities year-round. Powerboats are prohibited.
The Fanny Bay Conservation Unit in nearby Fanny Bay provides access to the diverse bird life found at Fanny Bay and the surrounding habitat. The sanctuary includes forests and upland areas, marine waters and mudflats providing a wide range of wildlife habitat. The bay and estuary are visited by harbour seals, and moms with pups are easily viewed during late summer and early fall.
Deep Bay is known for its excellent fishing and was once one of the most important fishing camps on the coast. Mapleguard Point is the elbow of an arm and spit that protects Deep Bay's natural harbour and helps make Deep Bay a fisherman's delight. Deep Bay launches boats that head for the rich Coho and Chinook salmon grounds in the bay near the Norris Rocks, Chrome Island, and Eagle Rock. Every year Chinook salmon in the 20-pound range are caught.
Superb winter waterfowl habitats are found along the shores of Deep Bay and the adjacent Baynes Sound, guaranteeing excellent and easily accessible birdwatching. Baynes Sound is used extensively by Western Grebes, Common Loons, Trumpeter Swans, Brant geese, and Mallards (to mention just a few), and is also a popular viewing area for Bald Eagles that congregate in large numbers at the mouth of salmon streams during winter.
Golf is played year-round at the Arrowsmith Golf & Country Club, an 18-hole Par 61 golf course 10 minutes south of Bowser, near Qualicum Beach. A beautiful golf course with views of Echo Valley and Mt. Arrowsmith it is a favourite with all levels of golfer.
Kayakers can put in at Rosewall Creek Provincial Park, just west of Deep Bay, or launch at Deep Bay, a natural harbour on Qualicum Bay, protected by the curve of Mapleguard Point. You'll also find good windsurfing in the protected waters of Deep Bay.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia