History & Heritage

History & Heritage


The name Qualicum means "Where the Dog Salmon Run" in the Pentlach language. Spanish naval explorers in the early 1790's were off our shores naming Lasqueti and Texada Islands and, five miles south of Qualicum, named French Creek Punta de Leonards, a name that did not remain.

Land development in the Qualicum area did not begin until the late 19th Century. The Hudson's Bay Company established Victoria in 1843 and Nanaimo in 1852. Spurred on by the profitable fur trade, the Company sent a party, headed by Adam Grant Horne, to find a land route to the West Coast. This successful trip inaugurated the Horne Lake Trail used by settlers and traders traveling to Alberni.

Horne had witnessed a terrible massacre of many Qualicum indigenous people at the mouth of the Qualicum River. However, many indigenous people still came to the area to fish, pick berries, dig for claims and hunt. Some sought work in the mining town of Nanaimo.

Active residents during the later part of the century were Qualicum Tom and his wife, Qualicum Annie. Tom had a canoe for hire to cross Horne Lake. They also had a hotel and store for those traveling via the Home Lake Trail.

Journeying south in 1864 the explorer, Dr. Robert Brown, spoke of a beautiful tract of land extending past the Qualicum River. This was one of the earliest complimentary remarks about our area.

In 1886 a road reached Parksville and was extended to Qualicum in 1894. The railway reached Parksville in 1910 and Qualicum in 1914.

In 1906 a railway official, Mr. H.E. Beasley, passed through Qualicum and was so enamored with the location he sponsored a land development company, "The Merchants Trust and Trading Company", who built golf links and a hotel in 1913. Settlement at Coombs added settlers, some of whom drifted to Qualicum.

The 1914 war siphoned off many settlers. The hotel, after opening in 1913, became a soldiers' convalescent hospital for amputees. It re-opened as a hotel in 1920. After the war, the town site continued to progress and other hotels were built. Several lumber mills gave local employment and provided the much needed building material.

To this day, Qualicum Beach maintains a strong historical identity, and twelve buildings on are the National Historic Register

Further Reading

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