A Note from Charles September 2018

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Charles McDiarmid
By Charles McDiarmid, Managing Director
Newsletters29 August 2018


Our understanding of change can vary depending on where it takes place, or how obvious or dramatic it is. Sometimes change is barely perceptible, maybe only visible over a long time, and then there are things that seem to change overnight.

We’ve seen all kinds of change in Tofino over the years, and, as the town continues to grow, an important part of our community planning is to ensure we incorporate those new ideas while accommodating the meaningful reminders of our past. Our town, as a “municipality,” may have a shorter history than many other places, but it’s a rich one, and the fact that it is still readily tangible is one of the many things drawing people here.

This year our much-loved downtown has seen some extensive developments. Recent upgrades to make our waterfront street (and the very first one in our town), Main Street, more pedestrian-friendly is helping to make the road an even more enjoyable place for people to visit. With expansive views of the ocean and mountains, it’s a favourite route to take through town, and—with many of the kayak, boat and float plane docks—the principal stepping off point to explore Clayoquot Sound and connect with other communities or wilderness destinations.

As you stroll along the Main Street’s new and improved walkways, be sure to take a moment at Pete Clarkson’s new art installation. A local artist, Pete creates sculptures, installations and hanging art from marine debris. The “Tofino Float’em Garden” on Third Street (between Main St. and Campbell St.), is a beautiful and mindful piece of work that symbolizes ecosystem connectivity. It reminds us of our dependency on the ocean and environment, and asks us to review how our demands affect them.

As Tofino’s oldest street, Main Street is also home to some wonderful artefacts of our history. Our Government Wharf, originally made for steamships to dock at, was built in 1908 and is still a central spot in town today. The Life Boat Station, built on a waterfront lot that cost $50(!) at the time, housed Tofino’s first lifeboat. Donated from Bamfield, the lifeboat was solely powered by oars (no motors) and the men who pulled on them, and was and still is a fundamental addition to our community. The lifeboat crew did so much more than attend distress signals: they were a catch-all for community services and water transportation.

Nearby, the building that now houses Tofino Sea Kayaking was Tofino’s first hotel, The White Wing Hotel, which opened in 1913—eight years before cars would arrive here. That same year, the St. Columba Anglican Church, at the corner of Main and Second Street, was built. It was first constructed on cedar blocks on a parcel of land purchased by the residents of Tofino for $100! The rhododendrons, planted in 1925, are still blooming, and, along with regular maintenance, a cement block foundation was added in 1967 to keep this landmark alive.

Several residential houses along Main Street can boast being the homes of some of Tofino’s founding families, as well as the site of many brave and funny pioneering stories—too many to include here! However, on your next visit, I encourage you to take a walk along this road to find some of those memories yourself, and maybe make some new ones, too.

Of course, some things never change. Like our love for your curiosity—be sure to bring it with you. We are always happy to answer your questions and share the new (and old) experiences we cherish.

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