Qualicum Beach, British Columbia is a town on the east coast of Vancouver Island, about 40 minutes north of Nanaimo where the ferry from the mainland docks. It's a bright, tidy small town with lots of shops, artists studios, restaurants and community theatre. It's reknowned for the artisans that live and work in the area and sell their goods through the local shops and through their own studios. There are five golf courses in the area and many eco-tourism attractions such as Cathedral Grove and a 50 acre park containing giant Douglas fir trees.
One thing in particular that makes Qualicum Beach unique is a city bylaw that forbids any franchise or chain stores or businesses so you won't see a golden arch within miles. The main street in the town center has one main intersection and one traffic light, and the shops and restaurants that line these streets will keep you enchanted all day! Nearby is the heritage village of Coomb, also well worth a trip.
Getting to Qualicum Beach is not difficult. In addition to car, there is a transit service shared with nearby Parksville, a train line goes through Qualicum on it's way to Courtenay. There's even a small private airport.
I visited Qualicum during a three day stay in nearby Parksville. We only had enough time to peruse the town center and check out some of the shops. If i get back that way again i definitely want to see Cathedral Grove and the village at Coomb as well.
Town of Qualicum Beach
"Everything including the kitchen sink"
Smithford's is amazing! I could have spent all day in there looking at... stuff! You are greeted by a front "yard" with wooden sculptures and garden ornaments and pots and accessories watched over by a larger than life size wooden carved and painted Canadian Mountie in full red dress uniform.
The yard is surrounded by a fence upon which slumber many carved and painted wooden cats, insolent as you please. There are tall purple wooden giraffes, garden sprinklers shaped like a pelican, many pots of various sizes. I saw a "birdcage" that had the birds perched on the outside, gloating at the cat they had entrapped inside!
Inside are several rooms chock filled with a wide assortment of goods and gifts. Furniture clutters the back room, topped with photo frames, pictures, mirrors, wall hangings of all sorts. Folk art at it's best in this store. Wood, metal, plastic, fabric, molded, carved, painted, sculpted, sewn. Local artisans and imported. Shoes, jewellry, soap, candles, clothing, books, furniture, things for the wall, the floor, the table top, feasts for the ears, eyes and touch.
Some of my favourite things were the table that helped display the shoes, the iron signs on the walls with such phrases as "Beer", "Garden of Weedin'", and "Housework makes you ugly".
The Hoofbeats! I bet they can really rock! And what about....
These sparkly, smiling merry marionettes? Surely they would brighten up any room.
This fellow was in a bit of a hurry so he had no time to stop and chat. I couldnt' leave after enjoying my visit so much without purchasing something so found some lovely hand painted small round wooden fridge magnets crafted by local artists. But if i wasn't traveling so far, or if i had more luggage space, i think i would have returned home much poorer in the wallet, but much richer in my home decor!