Fanny Bay

Discover Fanny Bay, British Columbia: A Historical and Tourism Perspective

Fanny Bay is a quaint hamlet nestled in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Situated on Baynes Sound on the east coast of Vancouver Island, this small community boasted a population of 815 in 2001. Fanny Bay is renowned for its exquisite oysters and is conveniently served by the Island Highway and Island Rail Corridor.

The Enigmatic Origin of Fanny Bay, British Columbia

The origin of the name 'Fanny Bay' remains a mystery, with no consensus among the various comical, romantic, local, or historical explanations. The name first graced British Columbia maps in 1913 and was officially adopted by the government in 1923, based on British Admiralty charts from the 1860s, derived from surveys by Royal Navy Captain G.H. Richards.

In his book 'Origin of Station Names, Esquimalt and Nanaimo Division', Geographer A.B. McNeill suggests that Fanny Bay was named after a sea captain who resided in the area. However, he provides no supporting information or dates. A popular local theory proposes that Captain George Vancouver named Fanny Bay in 1792.

Another theory suggests that Fanny Bay was named after Francis "Fanny" Palmer, a young woman from a popular Victoria family who tragically perished in the sinking of the Pacific off Cape Flattery in 1875. The Palmer family, known for their accomplished singers, were central to the social circle in early Victoria.

Fanny Bay, British Columbia: A Shellfish Haven

Fanny Bay is globally recognized for its farmed shellfish, specifically Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas), manila clams (Venerupis philippinarum), savoury clams (Nuttallia obscurata), and mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis). These shellfish are supplied to both domestic and international markets.

Oysters were introduced to the area as early as 1912 or 1913, with further seedings around 1925. During World War II, due to the scarcity of Pacific oysters from Japan, additional seeding occurred in 1942. Eikichi Kagetsu introduced 9 crates of oyster seed from Japan around 1926-1927 and received permission to develop oyster culture along the shore. However, his efforts were interrupted by his internment during World War II, and his property and businesses were confiscated by the Canadian government.

Oyster and clam seeding in Baynes Sound at Fanny Bay began around 1947, led 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. McLellan's descendants continue to own and operate the oyster and clam farm located in Fanny Bay, known as Mac's Oysters Ltd. Interestingly, Manila clam seed was inadvertently included in Joseph McLellan's initial seed shipments from Japan.