This is part two in a three-part series on the history of European settlers to Qualicum Beach. Beverly Brendon is a local guide with family roots in the community who offers historical walking tours of the town. She is passionate about local history and has gone to great lengths to research the town’s foundations.
This series focuses on the stories of European settlers to the region, as Brendon believes that the stories of First Nations peoples are not hers to tell. Last week’s questions focused on Qualicum Beach’s movers and shakers, and Brendon’s personal reasons for delving deep into the history of Qualicum Beach.
What’s a little-known fact about Qualicum Beach that you feel should be more well-known?
“It’s something that I think people know, on some level, but that awareness should be raised about — and that is the role of volunteers and non-profit societies in Qualicum,” said Brendon.
One of the most notable examples to Brendon is The Old School House Arts Centre, or TOSH.
The school board sold the land to the own of Qualicum Beach in 1986.
“They sold it on the condition that it be used for civic use. And the town was going to tear it down, and turn it into a parking lot,” said Brendon.
Following this, a group of local artists met at St. Stephen’s church. They decided they wanted to buy the building to preserve it, and managed to raise $75,000 within 90 days.
The town allowed the group to use it rent free for six months while they did renovations. All that work was done by volunteers.
“Just to think that volunteers have accomplished that much is astounding,” said Brendon.
She also mentioned, among others, the Heritage Forest, which was set to be subdivided back in 1995.
“It could easily be 110 residential homes now,” said Brendon.
A group of neighbours banded together and formed the Brown Property Preservation Society (BPPS).
Over an eight-year period, hundreds of volunteers worked to raise $1.25 million, which was 68% of the purchase price of the land. The town kicked in the rest, using money from the parks budget to contribute.
“It’s so easy to take these things for granted unless there’s a heightened awareness,” said Brendon.
Notable volunteer efforts also mentioned by Brendon were the Train Station Society, and the involvement of townsfolk in helping clear the cemetery.
What is the biggest scandal that you’ve uncovered in Qualicum Beach’s history?
There may be scandals in the town’s history, but you won’t hear them from Brendon. She stayed strictly professional in the face of this question.
“My uncle has definitely told me stories… but I promised him I would never divulge those stories. I wouldn’t,” said Brendon.
If you could go back in time to one event in Qualicum Beach’s history, what would it be?
“My uncle talked about the Log Cabin, which was right next to the bakery where he grew up. The dances there were so popular, because they had these live bands, one of them called the Novelty 5 from Nanaimo.
My uncle said they were absolutely great dances. So much so that some young men from the Straights lumber mill in Nanoose would walk all day long to attend one of those dances in the Log Cabin.
And I just have this idea of what a what a swingin place it would have been in 1940s… I think that would be a riot to attend one of those dances at the Log Cabin,” said Brendon.
This is the second part in a three-part series about Qualicum Beach’s history. Stay tuned for the next installment, where Brendon talks about the famous people who’ve spent time on Qualicum Beach’s shores, where she would go if she could travel back to one event in Qualicum Beach and more.