Gibsons: Gateway to the Sunshine Coast
Many people mistakenly believe the Sunshine Coast is an island, because of the ferry needed to get here. But it's actually part of the BC Mainland, separated from the sea to sky region by the waters of Howe Sound. With the backdrop of Keats and Gambier Island and the coastal range beyond, Gibsons Landing is a very pretty BC harbour.
Molly's Reach, iconic from Beachcomber TV series days (see below) is an active and busy restaurant situated at the top of the Government Wharf and next to the eclectic and personality-rich Molly's Lane group of shops and boutiques. Restaurants and art galleries are myriad in the Landing, as well as fine clothing stores, vintage consignment, and cute little marine cottages that date back over 50 years.
Interested in learning more about the history of the Gibsons area?
Check out the Sunshine Coast Museum & Archives YouTube Video Channel!
BEACHES & THE SHORELINE:
Armours Beach, right in downtown Gibsons, is a main site for the Gibsons Annual Sea Cavalcade. It also offers swimming floats, a small wharf, a picnic area, a clubhouse and some of the best windsurfing in the province.
From Lower Gibsons, wind your way around Gower Point, a lovely drive or bike ride following the shoreline and a favourite spot for watching the sunset. There are great stretches of beach here, and some fine old homes, once summer houses for vacationing Vancouverites. Chaster Park is a small provincial park located at the mouth of Chaster Creek, featuring a cairn in honour of Captain Vancouver who visited the area in 1792. The landscaped, grassy park is a lovely picnic site. Chaster House, a renovated heritage home on the beachfront, is available for rent for special events.
Gower Point Road meets Ocean Beach Esplanade and continues along the coast into the prestigious Bonniebrook area. The stretch of shoreline here is one of the nicest on the Coast - look for Secret Beach at the end of Mahan Road. Take a stroll, go for a swim, explore the tidal pools or watch the sun go down.
What do you think of when someone says 'Langdale'? Probably the first thing you see when you get to the Sunshine Coast - the BC Ferries Langdale Terminal.
Langdale is more than the ferry terminal but you have to make a point to see it. When exiting the terminal, instead of heading up the hill (creatively named "The Bypass" - not!) or turning left to visit scenic Gibsons Landing - go right at the lights and you're in Langdale.
Yes, we have our suburbs too! If we had a downtown, Langdale would be a bedroom community... but some of those bedrooms have some of the most amazing views of the coastal mountain range and Howe Sound going.
Langdale also serves as the "home community" to Howe Sound Pulp and Paper, which operates one of the world's most innovative Kraft pulp mills in Port Mellon and produces some of the finest newsprint and kraft pulp in the world. The plant employs roughly 600 people, many of whom live in Langdale, and produces 350,000 tonnes of Kraft Pulp and 200,000 tonnes of newsprint a year. The drive out to Port Mellon is beautiful... quiet, winding, and travels through great little places like the wonderfully named "Dogpatch". It will take you back 40 years.
Perhaps one of Gibsons biggest claims to fame is as the site where the long-running TV series The Beachcombers was filmed. Although the film crews are long gone, Molly's Reach restaurant and the pier (where much of the filming was done) are still there, and several of the cast, notably the late star of the series, Bruno Gerussi, chose to make their homes here. After all, they knew there was more to Gibsons than The Beachcombers.
One of the best starts for RV traveling on the Coast is at the Langdale Heights RV Park and Golf Course. They can accommodate large groups and have many amenities available to make your stay relaxing and enjoyable.
Once you reach the end of the Bonniebrook area, it's a bit of a trick to find your way back up to Highway 101. Wind through the suburban area, heading uphill on King or Pratt Road. When you get to the top of the hill, you'll find yourself in Upper Gibsons, the town's commercial and industrial centre. Great bargain shopping and fast food thrive in this stretch. Upper Gibsons also boasts a recreation centre with a curling rink and a swimming complex with an indoor pool, wading pool and swirl pool. Let the kids and dogs romp at Brothers Park, with playing fields, Community Centre, two ball diamonds, tennis courts and a skateboarding area. Or for rainy day fun, try the the Gibsons Cinema (call 604-886-6615 for current show information).
One of the nicest little sidetracks anywhere is Gospel Rock, tucked away at the end of Chaster Road (turn down Pratt Road toward the water, then turn left on Chaster). Drive as far as you can on the paved road, then keep going along a short gravel stretch. This takes you to the top of Gower Point with a panoramic lookout view that's breathtaking. On a clear day, you can see the ethereal Mount Baker in Washington State, the Lions mountain peaks in North Vancouver, the islands dotting Howe Sound and the hills of Vancouver Island.
Of course, the best way to really appreciate the Sunshine Coast is to travel by water. The inlets and islands around Gibsons and on up into Howe Sound are perfect for kayaking, sailing or pleasure cruising. Kayak rentals are available, or if you own your own boat, there are many marinas and marine parks in the area - tie up for a night or a month to enjoy the waterways of the Coast.
Heading (mostly west) out of Gibsons towards Roberts Creek, you'll see Mount Elphinstone rising to your right above the northeast end of Gibsons. It's a beautiful natural forest area with a whole network of terrific hiking and biking routes - from quiet, easy strolls to steep, advanced treks. The Gibsons Landing Heritage Society has been diligent in upgrading and marking many of the old logging roads and building new trails through the forest. Maps are essential in this area, as some of the logging roads are still in active use.
The Elphinstone forest is known for its diversity of mushroom species and other flowering plants that contain no chlorophyll: the gnome plant, coral root orchid and pinesap. Early summer is the best time to seek these rarities; many other mushroom varieties appear in the fall. The Elphinstone Living Forest is a local group dedicated to having the park declared a protected area. They have published an excellent guide to the trails in the forest - check out their site for more.
Gibsons is divided into three regions: the Town of Gibsons; Elphinstone (Sunshine Coast Regional District Area E), which includes Gower Point; and West Howe Sound (Sunshine Coast Regional District Area F), which includes Port Mellon, Williamsons Landing, Langdale, Hopkins Landing and Granthams Landing.
HABITAT & WILDLIFE:
There are three major habitat areas: Woodland, Streamside and Coastal Waterfront, each of which supports a variety of unique animal and plant species. Natural vegetation includes coniferous forest (Western red cedar, Western hemlock, Douglas fir) with some deciduous trees (broadleaf maple, red alder and Western flowering dogwood) and mixed ground cover (salal, vine maple, Oregon grape and salmon berry). Along the rocky shoreline and in exposed bedrock areas, pine and arbutus thrive. Common mammals in the area are coastal blacktail deer, Douglas squirrels, bush rabbits and raccoons. Woodland birds are black-capped chickadee, pileated woodpecker, ruffed grouse, rufous-sided towhee, winter wren and varied thrush. Marine mammals include harbour seals, Stellar sea lions and sixteen species of whales and dolphins, chiefly killer whales (orcas). Common fish are chum and coho salmon, cutthroat trout and shellfish such as mussels, oysters and clams. Marine birds in the area include bald eagles, great blue herons, Canada geese, osprey, cormorants, loons, sandpipers and coots.
POPULATION OF GIBSONS AREAS (latest available information)
Town of Gibsons
(15% of the total Sunshine Coast)
2011 Town of Gibsons
Median age of the population in Gibsons is 51.4, a full decade higher than the provincial average. The Gibsons & District Chamber of Commerce, Town of Gibsons, and local economic development and community organizations are increasing the draw to the region for young families with innovation around workspaces, childcare, transportation and education. Single detached homes, apartment buildings, and condominiums make up the majority of dwellings. (Census Canada 2011)