Vancouver Island turns out to be a fascinating place. I guess I find it so because it is huge, sparsely settled, and is the location of Victoria, British Columbia’s capitol city. Yesterday we decided to go off the beaten path and take an excursion to the less well known and traveled part of the island. Once out of the city the terrain is heavily wooded, mountainous, and for long stretches largely uninhabited.

We hoped to find some quaint little fishing villages along the coast but the one we finally found, Cowichan Bay, was sixty kilometers from the city. Although there were many shrimp boats in the little harbor, most of the boats were pleasure boats. There were sea kayaking lessons and whale watches available.

Heading inland we passed a few areas with some scattered houses but only two that appeared to be actual communities. We had been told about an old railroad trestle that has been incorporated into plans for a 16000 kilometer Cross Canada hiking trail. It is not far from a Shawnigan Lake where among the tall pines we could see holiday cottages. The Kinsol Trestle is reached by an easy one kilometer walk along the old railroad bed. It is an impressive sight. We walked across it and could look down into the deep ravine it covers.

The Kinsol Trestle

The Kinsol Trestle

We’ve learned that Vancouver Island is the worlds 43rd largest island at 300 miles long and 60 miles wide. It has a population of less than 700,000. Half of those people live in the Greater Victoria area. The only other large city is Nanaimo with a population of 80,000. All the other cities/towns have populations from about 12,000 to a couple of hundred. It is largely a pristine wilderness with many parks for camping, fishing and hiking. An outdoor lovers paradise.