Frank Jones, left, with son and neighbour. (Photo submitted)

History: What’s in a name, Qualicum Beach?

Town’s history a rich blend of cultures, languages and people

What’s in a name?

Qualicum Beach is a community whose history is a rich blend of cultures, languages and enterprising individuals.

Place names and street names in the town and area reflect this heritage and include those that originate with First Nations naming, those of Spanish and English explorers and cartographers, and finally names associated with early settlers and entrepreneurs.

In the Pentlatch language, the word “Sqwaluxw” is the word for chum salmon. Pentlatch is a Salish language related to the Hul’qumi’num language spoken south where early settlers first heard of the Qualicum area as “Xwkwa’luxwum” meaning “where the chum salmon run”. HBC traders heard of this place from local Indigenous people in Nanaimo where stories were told about a trail that led to the West Coast of the Island.

Mount Arrowsmith is named for John Arrowsmith and his uncle Aaron Arrowsmith, cartographers based in London England who produced the first series of maps of Vancouver Island between 1848 and 1856, based on information provided by the Hudson Bay Company.

Kinkade Road is named for the earliest settlers to the area, Thomas and Sarah Kinkade, who built a homestead there in 1878. The original homestead still stands on what is now a wildlife preserve. Hamilton Marsh is named after the Hamilton family who homesteaded in that location. Jones Street was the original location of the Jones family farm. Frank and Cora Jones arrived in 1907 and after clearing Little Qualicum swamp, Frank created a prosperous dairying business.

They eventually had 11 children and Cora, in addition to midwifery services, opened a school on the farm to teach her own children and those of some of her neighbours. William and Mary Garret came to Qualicum Beach about 1912 and William set up a blacksmith shop on Second Avenue.

The family built a homestead on what is now Garrett Road, and in 1936 built a home and a business, Greenbank Cottages, on the Island highway. The Qualicum Beach Museum has a collection of William’s handcrafted blacksmith tools. John and Sara Parker bought 40 acres in 1912 and when street naming began John built and installed the first sign for Parker Road. The town agreed to keep the name.

READ MORE: History: The architectural legacy of Sam Little

The story behind the street names in the Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf course area is unique. The Merchants Trust and Trading Company of Newcastle was the original owner of the Qualicum Inn and golf course and the original land purchase was 1,300 acres. Eighty of those acres were cleared for the golf course, by First Nations and Chinese crews who cleared and levelled the densely wooded land by hand. The current course uses only 60 of those acres.

Although he never had a controlling interest in the hotel and golf course during his tenure as manager, Brigadier General Money appears to have had the authority to sell land to developers and lots to individuals for housing, and streets such as Elizabeth Avenue, which was part of the original golf course, were created.

Other streets in the area that were part of the initial land purchase include St. Andrew’s Road, Berwick Road, Sunningdale Road, Hoylake Road, Burnham Road, Chester Road and Hollywood Road. These street names appear to be selected by Brigadier General Money and they are all named after golf courses in England. Hemsworth Street could be a street named after an English golf course, but perhaps it is named for J.H. Hemsworth a real estate developer, who was a partner in the Cameron Valley Land Company Limited with Harry Fullerton.

They purchased and developed the land that is the Qualicum town site today with the exception of the land purchased from the CPR by the Merchants Trust and Trading Company, which was all the land north of the CPR railway line, on which the hotel, golf course and eventually many streets and homes were built.

— Submitted by Nanci Langford for the Qualicum Beach Historical and Museum Society

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