This is part three 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. Part two of the series focused on the role of volunteers in several Qualicum Beach institutions and the fun of the Log Cabin dances.
When you walk around in Qualicum Beach, how do you see the history of the town reflected in its streets?
“Working on this tour does add another dimension to my environment altogether. I can’t tell you the number of times I walked by the Oceanside Pizza. Even when it was called the Sawmill Restaurant, I just thought ‘old building,’ and walked by,” said Brendon.
“Then when I found out that building was actually built in 1913, and that it was billiard hall down below, and a boarding house up above, and that it was the gathering place for all the sawyers and loggers. It was wild, and rambunctious. Every time I walk past it now, I look at it in a new way.
If you look at the old floors there, you can tell that it’s a really old building… They’ve been walked on so much, they’ve got that high sheen to them. It’s been many things, that particular location,” said Brendon.
The building Brendon mentioned was first a billiard hall, then a general store.
It’s also been a taxi stand, a beauty salon and an Edelweiss restaurant in the 1980s.
“Just knowing the history of places really does give me a new perspective,” said Brendon.
What do you see for the future of Qualicum Beach?
“I think that eventually there’s going to have to be more in the way of multi-unit dwellings… I just think that real estate being the way it is now, it’s such a desirable place to live. The [town] is becoming more and more unaffordable. I don’t see it becoming citified … but I think that sort of a multi-unit building will take the place of a lot of the single family.”
“I also think that whoever is in charge will do what they can to preserve heritage buildings and sites. I do believe that they will do that. Because people come here for a reason. They like that it’s small. They like that it has some sort of that old small town feel to it…. But at the same time, acknowledge that times are changing, and in order for a town to remain viable, it has to keep up with the times. And part of that is taking a really hard look at housing, and changing the zoning, whatever has to be done,” said Brendon.
Why is it important to know and share this history?
To Brendon, history adds another dimension.
“I think it gives people a certain perspective on their own lives, to know that they’re part of a continuum. I also think that learning [things like] the efforts of the volunteers, it makes people appreciate their environment more,” said Brendon.
“People like it because it explains things for them. They might have heard of the hermit of Qualicum Beach, but they never really knew much about him… it brings the past to life. People see these things, and there’s a curiosity there, and the tour answers those questions for them,” she said.
“Also, I think it’s just fun to hear about the way things used to be, because it’s so different now. Through the stories that I tell, I hope to place the pioneers that people have heard about in their settings.”
Brendon offers historical walking tours of Qualicum Beach. The tours run approximately 75 minutes long. For more information, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.