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 series footer)

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 away the summer, we drove north along Pat Bay Highway (#17), intending to camp at McDonald National Park, five minutes north of Sidney. While on route we decided to stop at Island View Beach and have a peak 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, there is 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 oder 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 stationery 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 grass areas near the seashore searching for their next meal. With their little head plumes bobbing across their beaks, they followed in single file over and along 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 horse back 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 a 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

    November 19, 2018 |

    Thanks, Lynn. It appears there was a problem with the comment system. Cheers, Harold

  • lynnmcneill

    November 19, 2018 |

    Hi Harold – looks great!

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.

  • Valerie Heuman (Roddick)

    June 19, 2016 |

    Having just returned to the Okanagan Valley from a weekend in Pibroch, I am delighted to have stumbled on your blog to see the picture of the main street. My aunt and uncle Peggy & Gordon McGillvery owned and lived in the old Post Office on the North east corner of the main intersection and my brother Adrian currently lives south a bit backing on the School yard. We are Sheila’s cousins and still have a close connection to the town.

  • Sheila(Roddick) Allison

    May 19, 2016 |

    Hi. So fun to find your blog. I remember going to school with you and Louise. I loved my childhood in Pibroch which incidentally was named by my grandfather Aaron Roddick. I will never forget the night the garage burned down. Nice to see the landmark photo before the big fire!

  • George Dahl

    April 12, 2016 |

    What a great site. I’m trying to locate a woman named Sally Jennifer who was from the Cold Lake area back in the early sixties. I met her when I was stationed at Namao air base in Edmonton. I was serving with the USAF 3955 air refueling squadron from rhe fall 1963 till the spring of 64. Sally was 22 at the time I was 21. Sally was my first love. I had orders to ship out to South East Asia and we lost contact after that.
    If any of you know the where abouts of Sally I would like to get reacquainted with her. She is First Nation, Blackfoot I believe. She is Catholic and may have attended a Catholic school in Cold Lake.
    Thank You in advance, George Dahl

  • dave armit

    March 23, 2016 |

    good old fashioned police work done by good old fashioned policemen……….in regards to mr cain..i learned a few years ago that he was born on the same day in the same hospital that i father was a close friend of the cain family…!!! interesting..d a

  • Joyce McMenamon

    March 1, 2016 |

    Haha, love it! We should probably eat rats and rabbits rather than beef. Also I’ve noticed that there are a lot less pests where dogs are not kept on leashes.

  • Kari

    February 27, 2016 |

    Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane Dad!!! That was an amazing trip and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to share that experience together!

  • Ann and Herb

    January 17, 2016 |

    Love the new music – one of my most favourite ever- and love the story. Thank you for keeping us forever young in the photo! It is such a gift to know a person who writes so joyously and respectfully of his family and friends. It fills our hearts to know that you count us among them.

    A & H