Rosewall Creek Provincial Park Trail by Graham Photo Courtesy Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism
Fanny Bay is a small community situated on the eastern shores of Central Vancouver Island, north of Qualicum Beach and Parksville, in an area known as Lighthouse Country. The region is well known as a source of farmed shellfish, specifically Pacific oysters, manila clams, savoury clams, and mussels, for both domestic and global markets. Nature abounds in this beautiful region, offering numerous hiking trails as well as great opportunities for water activities. The region is perhaps best known for its fine oysters along with other shellfish.
There is no consensus on the original of the name “Fanny Bay” and none of the various explanations – comical, romantic, local, or historical – can be considered without skepticism. In 1913, the name first appeared on maps of British Columbia. In 1923, the name was officially adopted by the government. This adoption was based on British Admiralty charts of the 1860s, taken by Royal Navy Captain G.H. Richards.
A popular and persistent local theory holds that Fanny Bay was named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792. However, Capt. Vancouver’s nautical charts and journals only describe the east side of the nearest body of water, the Strait of Georgia (including Texada Island).
Oysters were introduced to the area as early as 1912 or 1913, with further seedings around 1925. As a result of the lack of Pacific oysters from Japan during World War II, further seeding occurred in 1942.
The first major oyster and clam seeding in Baynes Sound at Fanny Bay occurred about 1947, by Joseph McLellan, a pioneer in oyster aquaculture. McLellan imported his first batch of oyster seed from Japan and seeded the beach areas around Fanny Bay – Mud Bay, Ship Point, Buckley Bay and Denman Island. His work started what is now a primary industry in the South Coast of British Columbia, Canada, employing over one hundred people and contributing significantly to the economy of the Baynes Sound region.
McLellan’s descendants still own and operate the oyster and clam farm located in Fanny Bay, Mac’s Oysters Ltd. A fourth-generation family shellfish farm, Mac’s Oysters is the only shellfish processor situated in Fanny Bay, though there is another company by that name, located in Union Bay approximately 11 km to the north. Mac’s Oysters is a significant player in the Canadian farmed shellfish industry, processing approximately 34% of all of British Columbia’s farmed oysters and clams from this area.
Within food circles Fanny Bay is synonymous with oysters. Manila clam seed was inadvertently included in Joseph McLellan’s initial seed shipments from Japan. The manila clam is as important as oysters to British Columbia’s shellfish economy.