Many Canadians (of a certain age) will recognize the community of Gibsons as the location where the iconic and long-running CBC series "The Beachcombers" was filmed. Gibsons is one of bigger towns along British Columbia's Sunshine Coast. The Sunshine Coast is part of the mainland of BC but is only accessible by ferry, boat, water taxi, or on small regional airlines. The entire region attracts many artists, cyclists, wildlife enthusiasts, boaters, bikers, musicians, campers, hikers, and divers. I have been visiting small towns and villages in this area since I was a young child, usually staying at marinas on my father's beloved sail boat. Almost every small cove has a marina and small community, each with their unique vibe.
Gibsons is known for its ever-expanding group of craft beverages offering unique cider, spirits, and beer. Gibsons is also gaining a reputation for excellent food with many specialty food stores, bakeries, and coffee shops and roasters. I enjoyed a breakfast of cheese croissants and coffee from Sandy's Bake Shop.
Gibsons offers a wide range of lodgings at every budget level including camping at nearby Roberts Creek Provincial Park (see last week's post) cottages, hotels, guesthouses, a public marina for boaters, and more luxurious spas and hotels. Check out a list of places to stay from the Sunshine Coast tourist site for an idea of what is available.
Long before George Gibson's boat went off course in 1886 and he and his sons landed in this area, the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations people had a summer village near Armours Beach. It is an ideal location with fresh water, a sheltered shoreline and an abundance of wildlife. Captain George Vancouver explored the area in the 1790s and came ashore a few kilometres west at Gower's Point.
Gibson's Landing (now simply called Gibsons) became a village in 1929 with a business area established around the main wharf, built by George and his sons. That wharf has been expanded many times and now includes recreational and working boats as well as floating homes. The business hub with most of the shops lining the main streets running parallel above the waterfront. Farms were established in the area known as "Gibsons Heights" or "Upper Gibsons". Visitors without cars can travel between the two parts of town as well as other popular areas in the region via bus service or taxis. Scooter rentals are available near the Marina.
In the 1960s, the forestry industry was booming but a decade later, the industry was struggling. The film industry was welcomed and provided an economic boost when CBC decided to shoot "The Beachcombers" here on location for almost twenty years.
The general store depicting "Molly's Reach" in the series became a sound stage. It wasn't until after the series ended that locals renovated the building and turned it into a casual restaurant.
Along the waterfront is the Gibsons Seawalk which stretches from the Gibsons Public Market to Armours Beach. The walk is an easy paved trail. I joined the trail along Marine Drive but it can be accessed at several different points along the way, including the stairs at the bottom of Schoolhouse Road and Gower's Point.
For lunch, I had the bowl of chowder outside of the Maritimes while sitting at the long tables on the pier of the award-winning Smitty’s Oyster Bar. The convivial atmosphere and chatter amongst all the guests was easy and it was a nice opportunity to socialize after a couple days of solo camping.
The charming former tourist center is located at the wharf in Pioneer Park at School Road and Marine Drive surrounding by some lovely plantings.
Beside this center is the Gibson family cemetery. The new Visitor's Centre is located on Fletcher Street, about a block south.
The artisan store that I found most interesting is the Daffadown Dilly Gallery on Marine Drive. This artisan/craft store features the works of more than 100 local crafters and makers. It takes up the entire heritage building that appears to have originally been workers' housing. It is well-worth your time to enjoy a stroll through the gallery and gardens.
Over the many years that I have visited Gibsons, there remains a timeless quality. The beauty and charm remains. The stunning scenery and natural beauty has been protected and celebrated and has attracted residents who value and advocate for that natural environment. The picturesque ferry route is a magical 40-minute ride that transports you from the metropolitan area of Vancouver to an area of spectacular coastlines, incredible natural wilderness, and funky little towns worthy of exploration.
Thanks for meandering with me! Have you explored the Sunshine Coast? What's your favourite place to explore? Share your thoughts, ideas, and questions in the comments section. Share the link with a friend. Become a member to get notified of new content, access to our members' only forum, and a monthly newsletter full of chatty behind-the-scenes news, useful travel hints and links, plus more!