Island View Beach – Camping Close to Home

Written by Harold McNeill on August 24th, 2011. Posted in Travelogue

7 sunrise crow 3

Crow at Sunrise (more in the series footer)
Island View Beach

Over the years, Lynn and I, along with various friends, have camped in all manner of locations in the Capital Region.  Most times we found very scenic campsites, but sometimes, just out a sense of adventure, we would set up camp for dinner and an evening of cards in places such as Beacon Hill Park, Clover Point, Oak Bay Marina and other spots.  No one ever bothered us as we were respectful of where we were and what we were doing.

The article was reprinted along with photographs in September/October 2011 issue of the Island RV Guide (p. 37ff)

 Keeping with our plan to camp close to home over the summer, we drove north along Pat Bay Highway (#17), intending to camp at McDonald National Park, five minutes north of Sidney. While enroute, we decided to stop at Island View Beach and have a peek at the final resting place Lynn’s Mom’s ashes (story previously posted on FB).  While we have often visited the Island View, we had not realized the Capital Regional District (CRD) had established a Campground just north of the public picnic area. It was a serendipitous find and we ended up camping right next to the beach for ten days.  McDonald Park will have to wait until another day.

View from our CampsiteSince setting out on our summer trek on June 28, we have travelled just over 5000 km, camped at fifteen or more sites across the Interior, and on Vancouver Island as far north as Campbell River and Elk Falls. While each of the many camping areas offers a unique experience, Island View Beach clearly ranks with the very best.

While services at the site (now in its second year of operation) are limited, that only adds to the ‘get-a-way’ flavour. Not only does one get to camp next to the incredibly beautiful driftwood and sand-covered beach, but there is also an ever-changing view of James Island (a short distance across Cordova Channel) and numerous other Islands that extend all the way to the Washington State shoreline.

The ever stately, snow-covered, Mount Baker, a mountain well known to residents of the region, stands majestically in the distance. With the amount of white still displayed on the west and south slopes, this late August, one can only imagine how deep the winter’s pack must have been just a few months back.

Each day after being up early and with all that West Coast fresh air, going to bed early is a given. By being up at six each morning, we were greeted with an ever-changing spectacle as the morning light spread across the eastern skyline and the sun climbed up a few degrees north of Mount Baker. On slightly cloudy mornings, the endless blends of blue, gray, red and orange filled the entire skyline as far as the eye could see to the north and south.  One morning, I was able to complete a photo session with a friendly crow that had perched on one of the many log fortresses built by kids during the summer.

On the dead-still, fog-filled mornings the air was filled with the pungent odor of rottingFog over Campground seaweed and dead grass made making it abundantly clear that fall was not far off.  By climbing a nearby hill that divides the waterfront from Mitchel Farms, we were able to gain a perspective of the fog from above as it shrouded the waterfront to the east, and the valleys and maturing vegetable fields to the west.  It will not be long before thousands of ripening pumpkins will greet the daily commuters along the Pat Bay Highway.

Photo: Looking back across towards the beach, our campsite was just left of centre by the trees.

One evening, after going to bed at 8:30 pm, I woke briefly at 12:30 am with a bright light shining on the Eastern horizon. At first, I thought it was an aircraft collision beacon, but after several minutes it remained stationary while the moon slowly rose. I decided to get up and captured a picture with my small Panasonic Lumix.  The next day I learned the light was, in fact, the closest of our planetary neighbours – Venus.  I don’t ever recall having seen it shine so brightly. The handheld photo did not produce a sufficiently interesting result to post so I grabbed one from the web to demonstrate how amazing close that planet seems under certain lighting conditions (web photo left)

Each day a family of Quayle, made up of Mom, Dad, Uncle, Aunt and about fifteen rapidly growing chicks, foraged among the logs and in the grassy areas near the seashore searching for their next meal. With their little head plumes bobbing across their beaks, they followed mom in single file over and under the logs, down little valleys and across the parking lot. Strangely, I don’t believe I have ever seen these lovely little birds fly.

It was a great week during which we met a number of local and long-distance travellers and where the CRD staff was friendly, professional and ever willing to help out campers and park visitors alike. While the expansive beach never seemed full, the sun did bring out dozens of families and school groups. It was also clear that many regular ‘day-trippers’ use the gravel paths for their exercise routines. As well, groups of horseback riders headed to and from unknown locations.

Without any hesitation, Lynn and I give Island View Beach and the CRD campsite “four thumbs up” as a destination for local and long-distance campers, as well as those who wish to simply wile away a few precious hours of late summer at the beach.

Harold McNeill

Mount Baker Dominates the Washington State Skyline

Mount Baker

When Mount Baker is viewed in certain weather conditions from the Oak Bay waterfront around the area of Cattle Point, it seems to nearly touch Vancouver Island. Trivia: For many years Mount Baker was prominently displayed on the crest of the Oak Bay Police Department.

Going to Seed

Early Morning Sunrise


Photo Session with Crow

Photo Session with Crow

“Ok, now curl up and look down. Great, great, let’s take a break before the next session.” This crow moved in while I was taking shots of the sunrise.  We worked together for the next fifteen minutes. On command he quickly moved into different poses. See a few more in the series in the photo album.

Red Sky in the Morning, Sailor Take Warning

Sailor Beware

This omen proved out as later that morning the wind picked up, the clouds closed in to a dull gray by early afternoon and the rain began to fall. This only changed the beauty of the beach from one scene to the next.

Fog Over Campground

Fog over Campground

Shooting from the hill overlooking the campground provided a good perspective on the low lying fog. As the sun rose it provided a mauve tinge in the background. Our campsite was just below the tall tree on the right.  The only thing I very much miss when the fog rolls in is the forlorn sound of a foghorn.  When I first moved to Victoria in the fall of 1963 and lived in James Bay, the sound of nearby fog horns on the Strait of Juan de Fuca was part of everyday life that I came to cherish as fall rolled around.

Fog Hangs over Mitchel Farms

Fog over Mitchel Farms

Looking west over the ripening crops toward the Pat Bay Highway (#17) that runs between the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal and Victoria.



This young lady clearly had the same idea as I, as she sought to capture a few early morning scenes as the sun rose through the fog.

Mitchel Farms

Mitchel Farms

The fog has gone but the skies remain gray across the valley. This valley provides a constantly changing view as we move from one season to the next. It has been a struggle for more than thirty years to keep agricultural land along the peninsula from being gobbled up for development.  Will the battle eventually be lost?  I think not, as more and more Chef-Farm Collaborative Associations open, to make the use of ‘home-grown’ our first choice rather than our last.

Gone Swimming

Gone Swimming

The two young ladies and their horses spent the better part of half an hour in the water.  The one horse, who clearly loved going for a swim, was being used to help the other horse overcome his fear of the water. At times they were in water that nearly reached the backs of the horses.  Now, remember, that water is extremely cold. I imagine they had trouble getting their legs to move after they returned to shore.


Trail Ride

Trail Ride

I missed the best shots of these riders just a short way back on the beach.  My battery went dead and by the time I changed, they had moved on.


Our Campsite

Island View Beach Campsite

For the first couple of days we were the only unit on this end of the site.  By Friday the whole campground was full.

More Photos – The Crow Series included below











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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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    September 18, 2019 |

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