In the Pentlach First Nation language, “Qualicum” means “Where the Dog Salmon Run.”
Today, the town of Qualicum Beach remains quite small, with a population of just under 9000 people. It is, perhaps, nonetheless difficult to imagine that before 1949 the town’s Memorial Street was still unpaved. In this photograph, Qualicum’s inhabitants can be seen dancing in the street to celebrate the paving of what would become Memorial Avenue, today the town’s central hub.
Some of Qualicum Beach’s key landmarks were already in place prior to the paving of this central street. The Old School House, just one block up from Memorial Avenue on Fern Road, was built as early as 1914. In 1988, after extensive restoration work, this building was reopened as the arts centre it is today. It is now a symbol for the arts in the town of Qualicum Beach, and it also hosts notable music events.
Right on Memorial Avenue, the Village Theatre was constructed in 1948, just the year before the paving of Memorial. Built in the Streamline Moderne style, an aesthetic that was very popular in the 1930s, its curved, modern-looking surfaces were meant to echo technological advances of the time, such as airplanes. Today, Echo Players still puts on popular and well-attended theatre productions at the venue.
A prominent landmark on the corner of Memorial and Fern, Qualicum Foods––the original Quality Foods store, arrived in 1982. More recently and also noteworthy along Memorial, the popular restaurant Bistro 694 ranks #1 out of the many restaurants in the Qualicum Beach area (Trip Advisor lists between 40 and 61). The restaurant’s husband and wife team offers local fare, and they consistently receive rave reviews.
Although the town of Qualicum Beach has naturally grown and changed over the years, its emphasis both on consistent and charming building aesthetics and on local businesses has meant that the town has preserved its cultural and historical core. At the heart of the Oceanside region of Vancouver Island, Qualicum provides excellent opportunities to explore the area’s natural beauty, and to enjoy small town life that is at once bustling and serene.