A Note From Charles June 2019

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Charles McDiarmid
By Charles McDiarmid, Managing Director
Newsletters26 June 2019


While it’s very good to live in the moment, it’s also important to honour the history that has brought us here. Within the last month of looking forward to summer solstice, we also had an opportunity to reflect back as a nation with the 75th anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944 Canadian troops landed on Juno Beach (a code name) in Normandy as part of an international mission to take back Nazi-occupied France. Both World Wars had a deep impact on Canadians and Canada—which still had a very small population in comparison to our allies; even the far-off town of Tofino had a role to play.

During the rise of international political tensions in the 1930s, the Canadian government built two Air Force bases on Vancouver Island’s west coast, one in Tofino and another in Ucluelet. The airport was cleared for landings in 1941—an exciting development! Prior to its build, Tofino was only accessible by boat traffic (the road hadn’t been built yet). In the early 1940s, the fear of Japanese jets attacking the Pacific coast provoked the build of a radar station on the now-called Radar Hill. The base was protected by a RCAF Squadron and only decommissioned after the war was over in 1945. A hike up to the site, just a short drive south of Tofino, is well worth the visit.

At its height, over 970 personnel called the Tofino base home. If you add their families into the population count, you can see how the town grew quite a bit at the time; some continued to stay here after the base closed in the 1950s.

Other legends live on, too. The airport—perhaps the one you’ll land at if you fly in here—is still a mainstay of our community, offering daily flights to the other side of the island and the B.C. mainland. With these large and small artifacts, we see how the events of the World Wars had lasting ripple effects of a global scale.

If you’re a history buff, or simply curious, there’s plenty more stories for you to learn and discover here. Take some time to visit the Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museumwhich provides local walking tour events, and showcases local history, including the tale of Tofino’s Whitey Bernard—whose iconic war-time photo became famously widespread, and the Shady Lady—a Catalina model plane referred to as the “flying boat.” (Also, be sure to check back in for a potential fly-by event of the restored model in September!)

Our team is always on hand to recommend other fun educational opportunities and tours of the region. Let us know if you have any questions!

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