Tofino and Chesterman Beach

The first European ships (captained by Hernandez – Spain and Cook – Britain) arrived in the Tofino area in the late 1700’s marking the beginning of trade between the Nuu-chah-nulth and Europeans. Sea otter pelts were traded for alcohol, guns and other items. Diseases hitchhiked along for free. The first white community in the area took root on Stubbs Island in Clayoquot Sound: by the late 1800’s other settlers were arriving and setting up house in the area of modern day Tofino. As with many coastal Canadian cities and towns the name Tofino is attributed to an aristocratic naval officer – this one a rear admiral from Spain. The area developed rapidly after that with the first school, wharf and church all in place by 1913.

The European settlers that came here in the early 1900’s were mainly Scots, Norwegians and English. Japanese fishermen began to settle in the area during the great depression. WW II changed the areas demographic considerably with the incarceration of all Japanese and those of Japanese descent living in British Columbia into internment camps. Few of these individuals returned to the area following the end of the War. The Wartime airforce base in Tofino is now the airport and Radar Hill is the remnant of the radar watch tower constructed to watch for the expected Japanese submarine attacks in 1942. Tough City – or Tuff town- has been a nickname of Tofino for decades originating from the nature of the economic activity that built the areas – fishing and logging. Economic activity in the town is now primarily fuelled by tourism.

We started our Tofino explorations today in the brilliant early spring sunshine, visiting galleries, the wharves and enjoying the stunning beauty of Clayoqout Sound.

Housing styles varied – from left to right, the ship look, Geodesic dome point and airstream park.

Colour was everywhere.

Hotels, guest houses, campgrounds and cabins line the shoreline from Tofino south. Most campgrounds and some resorts are virtually empty right now. The space enabled some excellent photo ops, of the beaches and the few people on them today.

Chesterman Beach is about 10 minutes south of Tofino. It was named after a white settler who got the grants for the area in the early 1900’s. It is probably one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been on and was on our agenda for a beach walk this afternoon. The beach and land around it has changed hands many times over the years. It is now subdivided into lots that boast some palatial residences. A small island off the beach – Frank island – is also privately owned and only accessible at low tide. Chesterman beach stretches for km’s. Dogs must be on leash which results in a peaceful walk.

A magical first day in a magical place that will end with a dinner featuring beef wellington, courtesy of Cindy. :-) Many thanks to Cindy as well for many of the photos today.

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