Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

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Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Map showing the location of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Map showing the location of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Location of Pacific Rim National Park in British Columbia
Location British Columbia, Canada
Nearest city Victoria
Coordinates 48°38′10″N 124°46′09″W / 48.63611°N 124.76917°W / 48.63611; -124.76917Coordinates: 48°38′10″N 124°46′09″W / 48.63611°N 124.76917°W / 48.63611; -124.76917
Area 511 km2 (197 sq mi)
marine: 221 km2 (85 sq mi)
terrestrial: 290 km2 (110 sq mi)
Established 1970
Governing body Parks Canada

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a Canadian national park reserve in British Columbia comprising three separate regions: Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail. The entire reserve encompasses 511 km2 (197 sq mi) of land and ocean. It is characterized by rugged coasts and lush temperate rainforests. The reserve is open from mid-March until mid-October. It was created in 1970 as the first national park reserve, and remains the oldest, having yet to fulfill its promise of becoming a national park after more than 45 years. The reserve was opened in 1971 in a ceremony attended by Princess Anne of England, who was presented with a driftwood abstract sculpture by Jean Chretien, the minister responsible for Parks Canada. The sculpture was the work of local artist Godfrey Stephens.[1]


The early popularity of national parks, like Banff and Yoho, created speculation about other potential parks, like one on Vancouver Island with access to the Pacific Ocean. The province took action with the adoption of the Provincial Parks Act in 1908 which allowed them to place reserves on land for park purposes and the 1911 Strathcona Park Act created the first provincial park, in the middle of Vancouver Island, which was intended to be developed in the model of Banff, though those intentions were never fulfilled. The first concrete step by the federal government in this area was a 1930 reserve placed on land in the Nitinat Lake area by the province at the request of federal government. The reserve was not immediately acted upon but Park representatives did inspect the nearby Long Beach area in 1944 in consideration of health resort type park, though it was considered impractical at that time. In 1947 the Victoria Chamber of Commerce advocated for adding onto Strathcona Provincial Park land along the Clayoquot Arm to Long Beach. The federal government indicated interest in establishing this as a national park, on condition that ocean access was included. However, later that year a survey of the area by Hugh Llewellyn Keenleyside deemed the park unsuitable due to its remoteness and outstanding forestry encumbrances.[2]

The 1959 establishment of the Wickaninnish Beach Provincial Park began the assemblage was what would become the national park. It was expanded in 1961 and 1968. Meanwhile, the Tofino and Vancouver Island Chambers of Commerce's call for a national park here was favourably received by local MLA Howard McDiarmid, Minister of Recreation and Conservation Ken Kiernan and the cabinet of W.A.C. Bennett but communication and negotiations with federal Minister of Resources Arthur Laing was strained as they disagreed on the appropriate size of the park and cost-sharing, in addition to their political animosity. The project advanced after Jean Chrétien replaced Laing in 1968. The BC government adopted a bill in early 1969 to enter into an agreement with the federal government to establish the national park along the west coast of Vancouver Island and pay half of the costs of further land acquisition. From there, the park was assembled in three phases. First, the Wickaninnish Beach Park was added the existing federal lands at the Tofino airstrip and forestry leases purchased off MacMillan Bloedel. Phase two involve acquiring the Broken Group Islands and phase three the coastline between Port Renfrew and Bamfield known as the Lifesaving Trail or West Coast Trail.[2]


The presence of six types of habitat in the park result in varied plant and animal species. The forest of predominantly old-growth Sitka spruce, western red-cedar and western hemlock is also home to black bears, Vancouver Island cougar, wolves, Roosevelt elk, and marten, as well as numerous invertebrates like the warty jumping-slug and birds like the marbled murrelet and the olive-sided flycatcher. Six species of salmon are present in the park's watercourses, but are predominantly coho and sockeye. Cutthroat trout, red-legged frog, western toad, mink and river otter live in the lakes and wetland areas. The shoreline's sand dune habitat consists of pink and yellow sand-verbena, dune grass, seaside centipede lichen, black oystercatchers, and glaucous-winged gulls. The intertidal zone provides habitat for eelgrass, Aggregating anemone, echinoderms (like the western sand dollar and purple sea star), sea snails (like the northern abalone), and crabs. Native bivalvia like butter clam, littleneck clam, California mussel and Olympia oyster compete with the invasive Manila clam, varnish clam, and Pacific oyster. The park also includes a subtidal area where there exists several kelp forests, habitat for Steller sea lions, seals and porpoises, and parts of migratory routes for killer whales, humpback whales, grey whales, basking sharks, and pacific herring.


The park encompasses a thin strip of land located on the south-west coast Irel Island. To the east of the park lies the Vancouver Island Ranges of the Insular Mountains and to the west is the Pacific Ocean.

During fall and winter, the area is continually subjected to moist air masses from the Pacific Ocean. The presence of the mountain ranges causes the air masses to rise and deposit large quantities of precipitation, a phenomenon known as orographic precipitation. The area averages over 3,000 mm (118 in) of precipitation per year, a key factor in producing temperate rainforests. During the drier summer months the area is sometimes covered in fog.

Long Beach[edit]

Satellite picture of Long Beach.

Long Beach is the most visited and most accessible of the three regions. It is made up of the coastal region from Tofino to Ucluelet.

The primary feature in this area is Long Beach itself. The area also contains the Green Point campground, which has 94 campsites for both tents and small trailers. There are also numerous trails in this region, running through bogs and temperate rainforest areas.

Other structures in the area include a ranger station, British Columbia Highway 4, and Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre. This centre is the main educational centre in the area and contains exhibits about local wildlife, plants, native culture, and history. The centre also includes a theatre, restaurant, gift shop, and information desk.

Broken Group Islands[edit]

The Broken Group Islands region is made up of over one hundred small islands and islets in Barkley Sound. The largest forested islands are Effingham, Turret, Turtle, Dodd, Jacques, Nettle and Gibraltar Island. The area is accessible only by boat, and is popular with kayakers. There are seven camping areas scattered on the islands. Campers should be aware that there is no fresh water available in the Broken Group Islands, so any water needed will have to be brought in.

West Coast Trail[edit]

The West Coast Trail is a 75 km (47 mi) trail along the west-coast of Vancouver Island from Port Renfrew to Bamfield. The trail was built to aid in the rescue of shipwrecked sailors. Construction on the trail started in 1907 and by 1910 the "Lifesaving Trail" was complete. The trail was abandoned in the 1950s. By 1970, the trail was transformed into The West Coast Trail, a challenging trail that takes visitors along rocky beaches, through rainforest, and across sometimes rough and muddy terrain. The trail has been improved greatly over the years and can be traversed in 5–7 days.

Tsusiat Falls, a campground on the West Coast Trail.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Trebett, Margaret (February 1971). "Teepee Workshop Produces a Gift for Royalty". Times Colonist. 
  2. ^ a b J.G.Nelson and L.D.Cordes, ed. (August 1972). Pacific Rim: An Ecological Approach to a New Canadian National Park. Studies in Land Use History and Landscape Change National Park, series no. 4. University of Calgary. pp. 5–13. 

External links[edit]