Royston, British Columbia
|Regional District||Comox Valley|
|• Total||4.57 km2 (1.76 sq mi)|
|• Density||340/km2 (890/sq mi)|
|Postal code||V0R 2V0|
|Area code(s)||+250, +778|
Royston is a small seaside hamlet which is part of the greater Comox Valley region, 100 km northwest of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. It is situated next to the Trent River, across the harbour from Comox and just southeast of the municipal boundary of Courtenay. Royston is home to just over 1200 people.
In the early 1900s, Royston was, and continues to be, the major port for the Comox Valley logging industry. Logs were shipped here by rail, boomed in the harbour, then towed across to the B.C. Mainland to be made into lumber. This port was used for transportation of coal mined in Cumberland.
William Roy and his family settled here in 1890, collaborating with a real estate promoter named Frederick Warren to lay out a townsite that they named Royston. The settlement could have been named as "Roy's Town" but could also have been named after Warren's home town of Royston in Hertfordshire - or both.
Prior to Europeans arriving coastal first nations used the beaches in the Royston area to dry smoked herring and herring roe. They would hang fish on frames to catch sea breezes and dry the roe on tree boughs. They called the beaches Tle-Tla-Tay.
Today the K’ómoks First Nation grows premium quality Pacific oysters and Manila clams on these same beaches of their traditional territory. The K’ómoks honours the traditions of their ancestors from the house of Pentlatch by operating under the name of Pentlatch Seafoods Ltd.
The K’ómoks proudly acknowledge their heritage by branding their seafood with the mask of Komo Gway – The Ruler of the Undersea. According to Pentlatch legends, Komo Gway is master of the marine species directing the rise and ebb of the tides. Komo Gway is often depicted as an octopus form since the master once chopped an octopus into many pieces and scattered them across the ocean to ensure a sustainable food source for the coastal people.
Early Settlement William Roy was one of the first to clear land in Royston. Originally from Scotland, William came from Westville, Nova Scotia arriving in the Comox district in 1890. Although he was bound for Cumberland, on the ship that brought him up from Nanaimo he met James Dunsmuir. Dunsmuir owned large tracts of land and invited Roy to look around for an area he might like to buy. Roy decided on beach property that would now straddle both sides of Royston Road on the east side of the Island Highway and north of the Trent River. Roy with a real estate promoter named Frederick Warren created village lots in 1910. By 1912 Royston had 30 settlers. A rail line between Royston and Cumberland provided easy daily travel between the two settlements from 1914 to 1930. This service lead several Cumberland residents to build summer homes at Royston and Gartley beach on the south side of the Trent River.
Squatters moved into the area between Gartley beach and Millard Creek (now part of Courtenay) during the hard times of the 1912-1914 Cumberland mine workers strike.
Royston Imperial Pavilion Built in 1918 and covered in 1925 the one single and four double tennis courts on the Royston waterfront hosted numerous community events. Tennis and badminton players loved the extremely flexible wooden fir floors. Dancers delighted in swirling across the floors. Through the 1930s crowds of 1500 people swayed into the night making the pavilion the largest and best dance floor in BC. As the orchestra warmed up for a summer evening dance in 1940 an electrical fire broke out bringing the pavilion to the ground in minutes, never to be replaced.
Royston Community Hall The Royston Community Club purchased the machine shop at the corner of the Island Highway and Royston Road in 1952 for a community hall. The building is now nearly 100 years old having been constructed in 1925.
Waterfront Oil Tanks & Wharf Shell and Imperial Oil took over the government wharf in 1940. The Royston wharf handled a heavy tonnage in oil products through the years. Initially barrels of oil were rolled to shore on the wharf. Fuel was later pumped from barges to tanks on the Royston waterfront. Oil tanks were located on the northwest corner of Royston Road and Marine Drive from 1916 until 1997. The wharf head was 12m x 30m (40 x 100ft) with an approach that was just 1.1m (3.6ft) wide but 400m (1,320ft) long. The viewing stand at the end of Royston Road is built with timbers and decking from the wharf which was removed in 2003.
History of Royston. by Jean Feely and Margery Corrigall. Published by the Royston Centennial Committee. Undated.
A Garden for Life: Mary Greig & the Royston Rhododendrons by Judith Walker. Published May 2015.
Watershed Moments: A Pictorial History of Courtenay and District by Christine Dickinson & Deborah Griffiths & Judy Hagen & Catherine Siba. October 2015