About Vancouver Island

Learn More About Vancouver Island

Climate and Weather

The Island’s climate is envied by the rest of Canada due to its mild winters and moderate summers. In fact, Parksville Qualicum Beach has been called “Canada’s Riveria” by the Globe and Mail newspaper. Temperatures on the coast, even in January, are usually above 0 °C (32 °F). During the summer season, maximum temperatures average 21-24 °C (70-75 °F).

The rain shadow effect of local mountains (including Mount Arrowsmith, southwest of Parksville and Qualicum Beach), as well as the mountains of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, creates wide variation in precipitation.

The rain shadow effect means the west coast of the Island is much wetter than the east coast. The average yearly precipitation ranges from 6,650 millimetres (260 in) at Henderson Lake on the west coast (the wettest place in North America) to only 635 millimetres (25 in) at the Saanich Peninsula in Greater Victoria. Rainfall is heaviest in the autumn and winter and snow is rare at low altitudes.

A weather feature to note is the Mediterranean-like dryness that residents and visitors alike enjoy in latitudes as high as 50°N. This is part of the reason why Parksville Qualicum Beach is known as “Canada’s Riviera”. Only in the extreme northern part of the Island near Port Hardy is the driest summer month’s rainfall as much as 20% of the wet winter months. The west coast regions of other continents at similar latitudes normally have even rainfall distribution throughout the year.


Other than in the urban centre of Victoria, the Island's economy is made up largely by forestry, with tourism and fishing also playing major roles.

The Island also has a vineyard industry that is expanding rapidly and produces wines that have outscored French counterparts in blind tasting tests.

The Island also has an information technology industry that is developing strongly. Broadband internet service is provided by Shaw, Telus, CRTV and CRCable.Net. Wireless internet can be found throughout the Island and many allow free access. Post-secondary education is an economic driver in Greater Victoria with over 50,000 students and staff. The University of Victoria, Royal Roads University, and Camosun College are the main post-secondary institutions in the Greater Victoria region. Vancouver Island University, formerly known as Malaspina University-College, has its main campus in Nanaimo and other campuses in Duncan, Parksville, and Powell River.

The favourable climate and beautiful setting has also made the Island an attractive retirement destination. The town of Qualicum Beach may be the best example as its residents have the highest average age in Canada. The “retirement industry” fuels real estate and assisted care developments that drive the strong construction economy.


Vancouver Island (coordinates), is located along the south west coast of British Columbia, Canada. The Island is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west, Queen Charlotte Strait on the north, Johnstone Strait on the northwest, Georgia Strait on the west, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the south that separates it from Washington state, USA.

The Vancouver Island Ranges make for a wet and rugged west coast and a dry, more rolling east coast. The Golden Hinde, at 2195 m or 7200’ is the highest point and is located near the Island's centre in Strathcona Provincial Park. The Golden Hinde is part of a group of peaks that include the only glaciers on the Island, the largest of which is the Comox Glacier.

The rugged, and in many places mountainous, west coast is characterized by fjords, bays, and inlets. It is also known for beaches such as Long Beach and Wickaninnish Beach in Pacific Rim National Park, between Ucluelet and Tofino BC. The Island’s interior has many lakes (including Kennedy Lake, Lake Cowichan, Cameron Lake, Horne Lake) and rivers (including the Nanaimo, Englishman, Little Qualicum, Campbell).

The Island formed when volcanic and sedimentary rock scraped off the ancient Kula Plate and plastered against the continental margin when it was subducting under North America 55 million years ago.


BC Ferries allows vehicle traffic from the British Columbia mainland to the Island from:

Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) to Departure Bay (Nanaimo)
Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay (Victoria)
Tsawwassen to Duke Point (Nanaimo)
Powell River to Comox
Prince Rupert to Port Hardy

Washington State Ferries serve the Anacortes to Sidney route. The M.V. Coho allows vehicle traffic from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria, BC.

Passenger only service includes the Victoria Clipper from Seattle to Victoria. The Victoria Express serves Port Angeles to Victoria (May through September) and Victoria San Juan Cruises serve Bellingham to Victoria BC (May through October).

Trans Canada Highway 1 follows the eastern shores of the Island beginning at “mile zero” at Victoria through Chemainus and Duncan to Nanaimo where it continues at the Departure Bay ferry terminal over the Georgia Strait to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver.

British Columbia Highway 19 runs between the Duke Point ferry terminal south of Nanaimo all the way up to Port Hardy. The scenic “Oceanside Route” Highway 19A (also known as the “Old Island Highway”) begins just south of Parksville and winds through Qualicum Beach, Fanny Bay, Courtenay, and up to Campbell River.

BC Highway 4 starts in both Parksville and Qualicum Beach through Coombs and Port Alberni to the west coast at Ucluelet and Tofino.

The E and N Railway (E&N) runs from Victoria to Courtenay, with branch lines from Parksville to Port Alberni. The E&N line is owned by the Island Corridor Foundation and operated under contract by Southern Railway of Vancouver Island.

Air travellers have many options to choose from with regional airports in Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox, and Campbell River. Many Island communities, such as Qualicum Beach and Tofino, have local airports that offer small aircraft travel to downtown Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport.

The above text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License - learn more at Wikipedia's Vancouver Island and E&N Railway pages.

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