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Home / Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands / North Central Vancouver Island / Comox

Comox

History

The Comox Valley has had human inhabitants for over 4,000 years due to its gentle climate, abundant seafood resources, and ease of movement along important waterway trade routes. This waterway trade included a variety of materials and foodstuffs. Eulachon oils, shells, cedar products, and fish were commonly exchanged with other coastal peoples. The Salish word "Koumuckthay" means "plenty" resulting in the Valley being known as the "Land of Plenty".

The Port of Comox was founded in the mid 1800s on the slopes of the Comox Peninsula. Overlooking the protected waters of Comox Harbour (once known as port Augusta), it was an important port for the ships of the Royal Navy and transport steamers. In 1910 the Comox Logging and Railroad Company was founded and for a time was the largest logging company in the British Empire. The rich heritage left behind by the logging is reflected by many of the street names found in the area. The strategic defense location of Canadian Forces Base Comox was opened in 1942. Except for a brief closure after WW II this Canadian air base on the West Coast has been the heart of Comox ever since.

Today, the marina, boardwalk, shops, galleries, and restaurants of Comox's downtown harbour give this pretty community a resort-like ambience that visitors love.

Location

The Town of Comox is situated on the east coast of Vancouver Island, 115 km (71 mi) north of Nanaimo, 57 km (35 mi) south of Campbell River via Highway 19. Together with the City of Courtenay and the Village of Cumberland, Comox lies in an area known as The Comox Valley. There is a ferry from Comox to Powell River on the Sunshine Coast on the BC  Mainland, and several scheduled flights daily to Vancouver and other Vancouver Island destinations. 

Places to See
  • Comox Archives & Museum

The Comox Archives & Museum celebrates the rich maritime, pioneer and natural history of the coastal community. Come explore the stories, people and events that have made Comox unique.

  • Comox Air Force Museum & Heritage Airpark

The Comox Air Force Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history and heritage of the Canadian Air Force on the West Coast, specifically RCAF Station/CFB/19 Wing Comox. The Museum begins with the earliest days of flight in British Columbia. As you proceed through the main gallery, the collection highlights some of the most important events and most significant figures in West Coast military aviation through the First World War and into the inter-war period. World War II is heavily chronicled within the next section of the museum, as emphasis is placed on important local events, starting with the building of RCAF Station Comox, in 1942. The museum's main gallery includes displays on current squadrons with local affiliations. 431 Squadron Snowbirds, who "migrate" each spring to Comox for over water training, are discussed with an eye to their role as public relations figures for the Air Force. Also, the museum celebrates 442 Squadron's role as a search and rescue squadron, as well as their historic significance as a fighter squadron during the war and the reserve "City of Vancouver" squadron afterwards. Finally, 407 MP squadron is chronicled, beginning with their time as an anti-submarine and shipping unit until today, when they serve in a very similar role.

  • Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park

Visit Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park, described as "a Jewel in the Comox Crown". This 1929 seaside resort was once the home of Bob Filberg, former president of the largest logging concern on coastal British Columbia. Comox - Filberg Heritage Park and Lodge - Boomer JerrittIt has now become a popular venue for weddings, art shows and special events. The Lodge's warm interior complements the outside appearance with extensive handmade woodwork and stonework. The Gardens are a myriad of exotic and local trees and flowers - a wonderful place for a peaceful stroll or an afternoon picnic.

  • Comox Marinas

Comox is home to four marinas which hold over 500 pleasure boats and a commercial fishing fleet. The marinas are protected by a rock breakwater which is in turn protected by the Goose Spit which extends out into Comox harbour, providing one of the safest year-round harbours on Vancouver Island. Comox Harbour is a great launching spot for some of the best salmon fishing in the World. The Comox (municipal) Marina offers a boat launch and is located right next to Marina park with plenty of parking, washroom facilities and a play area for children. A two minute walk is all that is required to reach the shopping, pubs, and restaurants of downtown Comox.

  • Goose Spit Park

The park is a unique landform, which together with Gartley Point creates the Comox Harbour. It is a flexible sand spit fed by the Willemar Bluffs and is a Class I recreational beach. On the inside is a sheltered lagoon. There are unique and rare plants and excellent views to the south and east.

Things to Do
  • Fishing

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. 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.

  • Visit the Seafood Market

Buy seafood directly from the fishermen at the Comox Harbour Marina. When the fishing boats come in, it's time to feast on the large variety of species, to meet the fishermen and their families, and to see the fishing gear that really works. Quality of the catch is given the highest priority. A special area has been set aside for Dockside Sales, which is located on the East side of the Comox Harbour Marina.

  • Golfing

The Comox Golf Club is a championship nine hole golf course located in the heart of picturesque downtown Comox. Beautifully conditioned fairways and well-maintained greens offer both challenge and reward - an exciting combination for golfers of all levels. Longlands Golf Course is an 18 hole par 3 challenging golf course, perfect for beginners.

  • Bird Watching

The Comox Valley and Baynes Sound are designated as "Globally Significant" Important Bird Areas by the BC Federation of Naturalists and Bird Studies Canada. The second highest concentration of over-wintering waterfowl in British Columbia is found here due to the availability of protected waters and nearby farmlands which provide habitat and an abundant food supply. The Comox Valley is the winter home to approximately 2000 Trumpeter Swans, a magnificent bird that can be spotted in many fields during the day from October until March. As evening falls flocks of swans can frequently be seen in the Courtenay River estuary, easily viewed from the Courtenay Municipal Air Park Walkway located near the Visitor Info Centre. Numerous bird species that can be spotted here include 10 species of gulls and terns, 16 types of diving ducks, nine dabbling ducks and 13 species of raptors. A comprehensive Bird Checklist for the area can be purchased from the Visitor Info Centre along with a book of Nature Viewing sites produced by the Comox Valley Naturalist Society.

  • Diving

Jacques Cousteau rated the waters near the Comox Valley as the "second best cold water diving destination in the world", and it's easy to see why! The area is one of only a few locations where divers can view the elusive 12-foot long six-gill sharks. Add to this a high level of visibility, very slight fluctuations in seasonal water temperatures, massive boulders, steam ship wrecks (Capilano 1915, Gulfstream 1947) and a wealth of sea life including huge Steller and California Sealions, giant Pacific octopi, cloud sponges, wolf eels, ling cod, rockfish and colourful reefs and you are guaranteed a rewarding dive. Visit one of the local dive shops to rent equipment, takes lessons or guided trips or to get tips on the best diving spots in the area. 

  • Hiking

The Comox Valley is surrounded by wilderness and there are unlimited hiking opportunities. Great trails, awe-inspiring scenery and plenty of wildlife await. Stroll in the shadows of an ancient, old growth rainforest. Hike through a pristine sub-alpine meadow amidst an explosion of wildflowers and a cacophony of birdsong. Take the chairlift to the top of Mount Washington for a magnificent view of the entire Comox Valley framed by the deep blue of the Georgia Strait and the mainland's Coast Mountain Range. With more than 40 local parks, and countless kilometres of hiking trails through some of the most spectacular island and alpine wilderness anywhere on the planet, the Comox Valley beckons to be explored on foot.

  • Skiing

Mount Washington, a 25 km (16 mi) drive west of the Comox Valley, is Vancouver Island's year-round alpine destination. Winter activities include downhill and cross country skiing as well as snowboarding and snow tubing. The resort is famous for its 55 km (34 mi) of cross country trails, and downhill skiers and snowboarders have their choice of numerous chairlifts. Other winter recreation activities include a snowboarding camp, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and guided back-country skiing. Adventure operators offer heli-skiing trips into more remote areas.

  • Paddling and Rafting

Ocean and river kayaking and canoeing are popular pastimes in the Comox Valley. You can bring your own gear or rent it from one of the local outfitters. Most kayak and canoe rental outlets also offer lessons and eco-paddling tours which explore the Comox Valley's natural and cultural history. Paddlers can view seals and sea lions, ocean birds, lush forests, log booms and tugs and the majestic coast mountain range. The calm waters of Baynes Sound are perfect for beginners or those looking for a relaxed paddle, while faster moving rivers offer a more challenging excursion for experienced paddlers. The waters surrounding Denman and Hornby Island are wonderful paddling destinations and pristine fresh water lakes throughout the region welcome the gentle glide of engine-free explorers. Guided rafting trips are available within a short drive of the Comox Valley. Operators offer professionally guided river rafting tours ranging from the thrills of whitewater rafting to serene scenic river floats and snorkelling with thousands of returning salmon. These trips are suitable for adventurers of all ages.  

Nearby Communities
Contact Information

Discover Comox Valley
Visitor Information Centre
Web: www.discovercomoxvalley.com 

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Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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