About Qualicum Beach

Qualicum Beach is a seaside town located on Vancouver Island just north of Nanaimo, British Columbia. As of the 2011 census, the town had a total population of 8687.

Located on the Strait of Georgia on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island in the shadow of Mount Arrowsmith, the community has been a popular tourist destination for residents of Victoria and Vancouver as well as a retirement community. It is served by the inland Island Highway (the main North-South highway on the Island) and by the “Old Island Highway”, the oceanside route. The community is dotted with rental cottages along the coastline. It has the oldest average population in Canada.


Qualicum Beach began as a lumbering, summer resort and retirement area.  The name “Qualicum” comes from a Coast Salish term that means “where the dog salmon run.”

In May 1856 Hudson’s Bay Company explorer Adam Grant Horne (b 1831, Edinburgh, Scotland; d August 10, 1901 Nanaimo, BC), with a group of aboriginal guides, found a land route across Vancouver Island from the Qualicum River to the Alberni Inlet. He also discovered the Haida massacre of local Salish natives. Horne Lake is named after him.

In 1864, the botanist and explorer, Dr. Robert Brown lead a group which explored the area. A road was brought to Parksville in 1886 and extended to Qualicum in 1894. The E and N Railway reached Parksville in 1910 and Qualicum in 1914. H.E. Beasley, a railway official, sponsored the creation of The Merchants Trust and Trading Company which organized the original layout of the town and built the golf links and a hotel in 1913.

Doukhobor settlers moved to the adjoining Hilliers farming district in the 1930s.

Qualicum Beach was officially incorporated as a village on May 5, 1942 and was changed to town status on January 7, 1983. The area is growing quickly with new suburbs and major new highway. Currently, it is a favourite retirement and golfing community.

Politics and government

Municipal government of the Town of Qualicum Beach is structured like the American council-manager form of government. It is headed by a mayor (who also represents Qualicum Beach on the governing board of the Regional District of Nanaimo) and a four-member council. These positions are subject to at-large elections every three years as provided by British Columbia law. The current mayor, Teunis Westbroek, was first elected in 1999. School board trustees, for representation on School District 69 Qualicum, are also elected by residents of the town, the City of Parksville and the surrounding area. The town funds a volunteer fire department, which services the town and nearby rural communities. The town has a local ambulance station. Hospital services are provided by Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in Nanaimo.

Qualicum Beach is part of the Alberni-Qualicum provincial electoral district, represented by Scott Fraser of the New Democratic Party in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. He was first elected in the 2005 provincial election. Federally, Qualicum Beach, located in the Nanaimo—Alberni riding, is represented in the Canadian House of Commons by Conservative Party Member of Parliament James Lunney, who was first elected in 2000 and has been re-elected in 2004, 2006, and 2011.


Qualicum Beach is considered a retirement town with the median age being slightly over 60, but the number of families in the area is increasing. The town does have a great swimming pool, excellent baseball diamonds, a bike track and also boasts a skateboard park that is located by the pool and ball diamonds. It is served by Kwalikum Secondary School, a middle school and an elementary school.


Highway 19A, known as the Oceanside route or the Old Island Highway, runs the length of the town along the shore line of the Strait of Georgia. The modern 4 lane Inland Island Highway, (Highway 19), passes nearby. The Qualicum Beach exit is also its junction with Highway 4, which runs through Cathedral Grove to Port Alberni and on to Tofino, Ucluelet, Bamfield and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the west coast of the Island. KD Air offers daily service to Vancouver and other locations from the Qualicum Beach Airport. The town has no marina or harbour but does offer a launching area for trailered boats. French Creek Harbour, is 5 kilometres (3 mi) south on Highway 19A.

Geography and climate

Qualicum Beach is located on the Nanaimo lowlands, a narrow plain which lies between the Georgia Basin to the east and the Vancouver Island Ranges to the west. Landforms were significantly affected by the most recent advance of glacial ice which occurred about 18,000 to 19,000 years ago.

The area has cool wet winters with 80 to 85% of the precipitation falling between October and April. The average annual precipitation is 1,314 millimetres (51.73 in). Mean daily temperature range from 1°C to 3°C (34°F–37°F) in January with cloud and rain from north Pacific air masses dominating the winter weather. High pressure ridges over the mainland can block easterly air flows bringing snow and freezing tempearatures during winter but do not persist as moist westerly winds bring above freezing temperatures. North Pacific high pressure cells influence summer weather which is warm, dry and cloudless. July and August have mean precipitation of 17 millimetres (0.67 in) and mean maximum temperatures of 25°C (77°F). Although winter precipitation results in surplus moisture at the start of the growing season, summer, particularly July and August, are drought prone. With the longest freeze free days in Canada, at 180 days per year, the Nanaimo lowlands area is favourable for agriculture. The area is within the small Coastal Douglas Fir biogeograpic zone which is considered to be the finest climate in Canada. The Vancouver Island Ranges, an inland range mountains which includes nearby Mount Arrowsmith, shadows rainfall. This biogeographic area can support Garry Oak and Arbutus which do not exist elsewhere in Canada. Wildlife include: black-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk, black bear, and Cougar; although with the presence of human population deer, racoons and other rodents remain prevalent. Soil types in the area, classified as Orthic Dystric Brunisols, vary from marginal to unsuitable for agriculture as they tend to be gravelly loam with fertility limited by aridity and stoniness but are suitable for urban use.