During the early 1900s, Black Creek was the site for several logging camps, however, in the 1930s, the area was made available to German speaking Mennonite settlers primarily from Russia via Mexico or the Canadian prairie provinces. The land which had once boasted some of the largest Douglas firs in the world was now a community of dairy and fruit-growing farms. Even today, there are still many small but beautiful gardens and farms lining the Old Island Highway.
In the 1950s, many Austrian and German immigrants were sponsored by Black Creek Mennonites, and much of the life of the community was conducted in a mixture of German and English well into the 1960s. The conservative and church-oriented community contributed significantly to the musical and academic life of the Comox Valley. Black Creek still retains two Mennonite churches (United Mennonite and Mennonite Brethren), though only a few of the original families still live in the area.
Today, Black Creek is primarily an agricultural hamlet and bedroom community to Courtenay and Campbell River.
Black Creek is located on the eastern side of Vancouver Island, 21 km (13 mi) north of Courtenay and 29 km (18 mi) south of Campbell River.
North and Central Vancouver Island's premier motor speedway. Rent a go-cart and race against your friends around a 3/8 mile oval track, or watch others compete in the weekly competitions. Saratoga Speedway is located halfway between Courtenay and Campbell River, on the scenic Island Highway. It has been a staple of the area for over 30 years and is ranked as one of the finest tracks in the province. The pit area inside the racing surface allows spectators to view their favourites preparing their cars for the next event.
During the winter, come here for alpine and nordic skiing. During the summer, there's mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, fly fishing, mini-golf, and camping. There are also special events every month.
The Oyster River Hatchery has many rearing ponds and an extensive system of rearing and spawning channels. Look for spawning Pink Salmon from August to October, Chinook in September and October, Chum in October and November and Coho from October to December. Steelhead Trout and Cutthroat Trout are also seen. The hatchery has limited opening hours.
The tide along this stretch of the shoreline goes out for over a quarter of a mile, creating a hard-packed oceanfront playground perfect for children to safely explore and play on. The gently sloping beach continues for well over a mile into the calm waters of the Strait of Georgia, creating warm, shallow and safe swimming conditions, free from powerboat traffic, deep water or strong currents. Beachcombing is a must here, where you can discover the life at low tide - a seashore profusion of sand dollars, crabs, and starfish.
Popular Miracle Beach Provincial Park is located in the Comox Valley between Campbell River and Courtenay. It has a broad, safe, sandy beach on the ocean, a playground for the kids, a large picnic area overlooking the water and a series of lovely trails winding through lush forest. At low tide, the beach features rich tide pools, perfect for observing a variety of marine life.
Woodhus Slough is located about 2 km (1.2 mi) north of the Oyster River along a shoreline that contains slough, marsh, farm field, beach and gravel habitats. A number of rare plants are found here. Almost 200 bird species have been recorded in the Woodhus Slough area. During the summer months, the slough is home to the secretive Virginia Rail and Sora. Red-winged Blackbird are easily seen in the cattails. The areas open and shrub areas along the trail to the slough are frequented by Song Sparrow, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Brewer's Blackbird, Swainson's Thrush and Cedar Waxwing. At the slough look for Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Beaver, Muskrat and Pacific Treefrog. In the winter months, Trumpeter Swans may be seen.
Located just north of Saratoga Beach, Oyster Bay Shoreline Regional Park is popular for its bike and walking trails with gravel beaches, and for its great view across to Quadra Island. The trail leads to the southern park of Cambell River with a few picnic tables and benches along the way.
Seal Bay Regional Nature Park on Bates Road south of Black Creek is a sunny stretch of coastline frequented by California and Steller sea lions, seals, and migratory birds. Spring is a time of increased activity, when the sea lions arrive as they follow the annual herring and eulachon migration. Trails begin from the north end of the road and lead to a staircase that descends to the beach.
Mitlenatch Island Nature Provincial Park is home to the largest seabird colony in the Strait of Georgia. All sedentary marine life, including abalones, scallops and sea cucumbers, are fully protected within the park's boundaries, which extend 300 m (1,000 ft) out from the shore. This nature reserve is an important nesting colony for thousands of Glaucous-winged Gulls, as well as pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, black oystercatchers, rhinoceros auklets and many other species of birds. Marine life around the island includes river otters and harbour seals throughout the year, and Steller's and California sea lions from late fall to May. Accessible by boat only, Mitlenatch Island Nature Provincial Park offers excellent opportunities to observe and photograph wildflowers and birds. The island is a very sensitive ecosystem that is extremely prone to damage by visitors who venture off the designated trails. Pets are not permitted on the island. Visit in May when the island's meadows of spring wildflowers are in bloom, or in July when the harvest brodia and coastal cactus bloom.
Some of the best saltwater fishing on the island, particularly for salmon, can be found in the waters of the Strait of Georgia north of the Puntledge River Estuary between Courtenay and Comox, and off Cape Lazo, King Coho, and Bates Beach, south of Black Creek. Because of its sheltered location and an absence of dangerous currents, the shoreline around Comox is well suited for rod fishing in a small boat. Shore angling for salmon is popular in Comox Bay from August to November. The closer you get to Campbell River, the better the salmon fishing becomes. Tidal flows in Discovery Passage churn up clouds of nutrients that sustain a complex food chain, which includes, near the top, tasty salmon.
Carved out of a dense mixed forest, Storey Creek is truly a course in nature. Stepping into its rhythm, you'll play your game in the company of wildlife - pausing as a family of deer cross the fairway, or as a young eagle preens in a freshwater pond, or the salmon spawn in Woods Creek. This Les Furber designed 18-hole par 72 championship course has 4 sets of tees allowing every golfer to select their desired degree of difficulty. Other nearby golf courses include Saratoga Beach Golf Course, Pacific Playground Golf Course and Crown Isle Golf and Country Club in Courtenay.
Quadra Island and the nearby island of Steep are acknowledged as two of the top scuba diving destinations in the world. Both provide exceptional visibility, and feature an amazing diversity of sea life and wreck sites. Be prepared to see wolf eels, anemones, crabs, hybroid sponges, sculpins, rockfish, seals, and the spectacular giant octopus.
Local mountain biking enthusiasts have carved out excellent trail systems throughout the region. Check with local bike shops for inside info, maps, and rentals.
Campbell River's lake and river systems are a paddler's dream- deep wilderness, smooth water, and connected waterways.
Campbell River Visitor Centre
1235 Shoppers Row
Campbell River, BC V9W 2C7
Toll Free: 1-877-286-5705
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia