Nanoose Bay

Discovering Nanoose Bay, British Columbia: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty

The Origin of Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

Nanoose Bay is a picturesque community nestled on the east coast of southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Conveniently located off BC Highway 19, it is approximately 26 kilometres north of Nanaimo and 16 kilometres south of Parksville. The history of Nanoose Bay dates back to 1862 when John Enos (Joao Ignacio) became the first European settler on the Nanoose Bay Peninsula. The bay was initially spelled as Noonooa on an 1864 map, but the current anglicized spelling was adopted by the early 1870s. The Nanoose First Nation originally referred to the peninsula as Berry Point, a name that carries a tragic history of a massacre by a rival tribe in the early 1800s.

The Settlement of Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

The community of Nanoose Bay was formerly known as Arlington, named after the Arlington Hotel. This name was also used for the post office from 1906 until 1916 when the community adopted the name Nanoose Bay. In 1957, Yvonne and John Ruggles opened a store in the Qualicum National Wildlife Area, marking the beginning of the modern retail and commercial centre on Collins Cres. Today, the community boasts a firehall, library, and elementary school, among other amenities.

The Railway History of Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

The Nanoose Bay train station, which opened around 1910, was a flag stop until Via Rail on Vancouver Island ceased operations in 2011. The railway crossing on Nanoose Beach Rd was once a bustling hub, with adjacent stops about 18 kilometres south to Wellington and 11 kilometres north to Parksville.

Neighbouring Settlements of Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

The community of Brynmarl, located along NW Bay Rd, was a significant neighbouring settlement. It had a post office, stage stop, and train station. Today, the Rocking Horse Pub is a popular spot among the rural holdings. In 1911, the peninsula, known as "Powder Point," was home to the Giant Powder Company. The company established a plant, community, and a 4.8-kilometre narrow gauge railway. However, an explosion in 1918 caused extensive damage, leading to the plant's relocation in 1925.

Military Test Range in Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

The Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental Test Range (CFMETR) is located in a restricted area at the wharf terminus of Powder Point Rd. This joint Canadian-American testing facility for torpedoes and other naval warfare and listening equipment has been operational since 1965. During the 1970s and 1980s, the facility was the target of a protest camp along the highway. Despite its military history, Nanoose Bay, British Columbia, remains a peaceful and scenic community, offering a unique blend of history and natural beauty.