The small seaside community of Union Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island was formerly a major shipping port (1888 to 1960) for the Union Coal Company mines at nearby Cumberland (previously called Union). Huge docks were constructed at Union Bay to accommodate both the rumbling coal trains and the seagoing freighters.
Today, only a raised rail bed and a few old pilings remain to remind us of those once busy wharves, and Union Bay’s economy is now dependent upon by oysters, and mighty tasty ones too!
Stroll along Heritage Row, a group of historic buildings recently re-located and restored. The Union Bay Historical Society was formed in 1989 to preserve these historical buildings, artifacts and the character of Union Bay. The Society bought and restored the 1913 Post Office building, the main floor of which is now leased by Canada Post thereby retaining the postal outlet in its original setting. Also acquired for restoration and moved to the Post Office property was the 1901 Gaolhouse. The old jailhouse is now a gift shop.
Visit the Union Bay Market, the prettiest stop over on the Oceanside Route, located just north of McLeod Road on the Old Island Highway. Crafts include stained glass and glass mosaic tables.
Strait of Georgia: Enjoy the great views from the bay – gaze across the Strait of Georgia to Texada Island, and beyond, to Powell River on the Sunshine Coast of the B.C. mainland.
Golf: Golf courses in the area include the Crown Isle Golf Club in Courtenay, and the Comox Golf Course, a challenging nine-hole course in the heart of downtown Comox. Vancouver Island Golf Vacations.
Located off the northwest tip of Denman Island, 4 kilometres offshore from Union Bay, is Sandy Island Marine Provincial Park, a cluster of tiny, wooded islands. At spring low tide the 33-hectare Sandy Island is connected to Longbeak Point on Denman Island by an exposed sand bank. The marine park is ideal for day trips and overnight camping, and offers 8 rustic campsites set in a wonderful grove of Douglas-fir trees.
Comox Lake: Surrounded by mountains and fed by a glacier, glorious Comox Lake, has good freshwater fishing for trout and char year-round. Boaters must beware of the strong winds that rise in the afternoon on the large, dammed lake northwest of Union Bay on Comox Lake Road. You’ll find a boat launch at the west end of Comox Lake Road.
Forbidden Plateau: Enjoy year-round recreation on Forbidden Plateau in Strathcona Provincial Park, once a hideaway for native refugees who mysteriously disappeared in its mountainous terrain. Winter provides great skiing and snowboarding, and extensive cross-country tracks for intermediate and experienced skiers. Summer brings great hiking and camping, and superb flyfishing for trout in the small alpine lakes during the spring and fall.
Strathcona Provincial Park: No visit to the central island is complete without a visit to Strathcona Provincial Park, a rugged mountain wilderness of over 250,000 hectares that dominates central Vancouver Island. Mountain Peaks dominate the park, some eternally mantled with snow, while lakes and alpine tarns dot a landscape laced with rivers, creeks and streams. Created in 1911, Strathcona is the oldest provincial park in BC and the largest on Vancouver Island. Fabulous hiking trails include the Della Falls trail to the highest waterfall in Canada, and dozens of trails to the many pretty alpine lakes that dot the Forbidden Plateau area, providing good fly fishing for rainbow trout during summer.
You will want to spend a day on the lovely Denman Island and Hornby Island, touring artists’ studios, swimming on a sandy beach, hiking the bluffs and trails, scuba diving or just plain relaxing. Catch a ferry from Buckley Bay, 8 km south of Union Bay.
North of Union Bay is Royston, a rural, seaside village directly across the bay from Comox in the Comox Valley. In the early 1900s, Royston was the major port for the Comox Valley logging industry. Logs were shipped here by rail, boomed in the harbour, then towed across to Fraser Mills on the BC mainland to be made into lumber.
South of Union Bay is the tiny oceanside community of Fanny Bay on Baynes Sound, the sheltered narrow strait separating Vancouver Island and Denman Island. Fanny Bay is home to the FBI, the Fanny Bay Inn.