Every four years, millions of sockeye salmon traverse thousands of kilometers of sea and freshwater to die for their babies—this is the severity of mother nature’s laws.
Sometimes it’s hard to understand the rules of nature, but that’s just how it is, whether you like it or not. Baby salmon are born in freshwater, mountainous rivers when their parents are already dead after the extremely gruelling upstream migration from the ocean up into the mountains.
Some salmons can’t manage to achieve the final destination and die on the way. Only 4 out of 4,000 manage to reach their birthplace, and every female deposits 4,000 eggs. The young soon return to the ocean, but they are doomed to the same destiny. Their carefree life is unfortunately too short-lasting, and in four years they will face the same deadly challenge.
Following is the most popular salmon run watching spots on Viancouver Island.
Goldsteam Provincial Park, Victoria
Directions: Drive north 19 km from Victoria on Highway 1; the park is located at beginning of Malahat Drive.
Species: Chum salmon, with some coho, chinook and steelhead
Best Times: Adult chum spawn in November; coho in November and December; chinook in late October and early November; steelhead spawn early in February.
Contact: Goldstream Park Nature House, 2930 Trans-Canada Highway, Victoria, BC, V8X 3X2 Phone: 250-478-9414
San Juan Hatchery, Port Renfrew
Directions: Drive 8 km north on Port Renfrew/Lake Cowichan Rd. about 2 km east of Fairy Lake campsite.
Species: Chinook and coho with some chum, sockeye and pink
Best Times: Adult chinook and coho October to December; juvenile chinook and coho March to May.
Contact: San Juan Enhancement Society, 4 Queesto Dr., Port Renfrew, BC, V0S 1K0 Phone: 250-647-5568
Nitinat River Hatchery, Nitinat Lake
Directions: The hatchery is near Nitinat Lake, 70 km southeast of Port Alberni. Leaving Port Alberni, follow the gravel road towards Bamfield. At Franklin Camp, follow signs to left towards Nitinat Lake. Hatchery is located on the right hand side of the road, at the confluence of the Big and Little Nitinat Rivers. Watch for hatchery signs. Access also by logging road from Lake Cowichan.
Species: Chum, chinook, coho
Best Times: Adult salmon during October and November; juvenile rearing April and May.
Contact: PO Box 369, Port Alberni, BC, V9Y 7M8 Phone: 250-745-3321
Stamp Falls Fishway, Stamp River, Port Alberni
Directions: Drive west on Highway 4 out of Port Alberni and turn right on Beaver Creek Road; proceed for about 12 km and turn left into Stamp Falls Provincial Park.
Species: Sockeye, coho and chinook and steelhead
Best Times: Adult sockeye in mid-July; coho in August and October; chinook in September and October.
Contact: Fisheries and Oceans, 3019 – 4th Ave., Port Alberni, BC, V9Y 2B8 Phone: 250-723-2612
Robertson Creek Hatchery, Port Alberni
Directions: Drive through Port Alberni on Highway 4 and turn right on Great Central Lake Road; follow the signs to the hatchery.
Species: Coho, chinook and steelhead
Best Times: Adult coho and chinook September to November; steelhead spawn in February; juvenile coho and steelhead year-round; chinook fry April and May.
Contact: Box 1100, Port Alberni, BC, V9Y 7L9 Phone: 250-724-6521
Cowichan River Hatchery, Cowichan River, Duncan
Directions: Turn east on Boys Road after first bridge south of Duncan; follow Boys Road to its end and keep right on gravel road. There are signs for the hatchery.
Species: Chinook, coho and chum salmon
Best Times: Juvenile chinook April-May; juvenile coho February-June.
Contact: 2380 Hatchery Rd., Duncan, BC, V9L 3Y2 Phone: 250-746-5741
Nanaimo Community Hatchery, Nanaimo
Directions: Turn off at Cassidy Hotel and follow signs to hatchery, 10 km south of Nanaimo.
Species: Coho, chinook and chum
Best Times: Adults: October-January; juveniles; May-June.
Contact: Nanaimo River Salmonid Enhancement Program, 271 Pine St., Nanaimo, BC, V9R 2B7 Open 9 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. daily. Phone: 250-245-7780
Little Qualicum River Project, Qualicum Beach
Directions: From Nanaimo, take the Parksville cutoff towards Port Alberni, turn right on Melrose Road and follow signs to site. From new Island Highway, follow signs from Qualicum Beach exit.
Species: Chum and chinook salmon and steelhead trout
Best Times: Adult chinook in early October; chum, late November; adult steelhead in February and March. Juvenile chum April and May; chinook fry February-June; juvenile steelhead October-May.
Contact: 4745 Melrose Rd., Qualicum Beach, BC, V0R 1V3 Phone: 250-752-3231
Big Qualicum River Project, Qualicum Beach
Directions: Drive north from Nanaimo, take the Island Highway through Parksville and Qualicum Beach; 12 km past Qualicum Beach a sign on the west side of the highway indicates the road to the site.
Species: Chum, coho and chinook salmon, and steelhead trout
Best Times: Adult chum and coho spawn November-December; chinook, October-November; steelhead, February-March. Juvenile coho year-round; chum fry in April-May; juvenile chinook February-June; steelhead June-May.
Contact: 215 Fisheries Rd., Qualicum Beach, BC, V9K 1Z5 Phone: 250-757-8412
Puntledge River Hatchery, Courtenay
Directions: From Courtenay take Lake Trail Road; turn right at Powerhouse Road and follow signs.
Best Times: Adult chum in November; coho, October-November; chinook, September-October. Spawning steelhead in February-March. Juvenile coho and steelhead year-round; chum fry March-April; pink fry February-April; juvenile chinook February-June.
Contact: Box 3111, Courtenay, BC, V9N 5N3 Phone: 250-703-0907
Quinsam River Hatchery, Campbell River
Directions: Five km west of downtown Campbell River. Take Hwy. 28 west from its junction with Hwy. 19, turn left on Quinsam Road (one block past junction) and follow the signs.
Species: Pink, coho, chinook and steelhead
Best Times: Pinks in September; coho and chinook, October- November; steelhead, November-April. Juvenile coho and steelhead year-round; chinook fry, March-May.
Contact: 4217 Argonaut Rd., Campbell River, BC, V9G 1B3 Phone: 250-287-9564
Spectacular views abound as we follow the Malahat drive overlooking the Salish Sea heading north along the Trans Canada Highway to the Cowichan Valley region. Identified as the Warm land by local first nations peoples the Cowichan valley is sheltered by a ridge of high mountains on the west side and warmed by the ocean to the east.
Sharing similar growing conditions as the northern regions of Germany & France our warm summers, temperate mild winters and gravelly soils suit some recognizable grape varietals like Pinot Gris, Pint Noir, Ortega, Marechal Foch as well as some fabulous blackberry dessert wines. Experience the traditional grape varieties of Europe handcrafted from a new world terroir.
Each winery has its own unique style; the welcoming staff is always happy to share tastings of their favourite wines. Blue Grouse Winery, Rocky Creek Winery, Zanatta Winery, Cherry Point Estate Vineyards, Glenterra Vineyards, Silverside Fruit Winery, Venturi-Schulze Vineyard & Merridale Cidery are some of the wineries we visit.
Start the day with a wine tasting to get your tastebuds ready for the day. Afterwards, nourish yourself with a locally sourced lunch in the countryside at an amazing local restaurant. After lunch, you’ll continue tasting the afternoon away throughout the valley’s numerous vineyards and learn firsthand why Cowichan’s burgeoning wine industry has earned a well-deserved reputation for award-winning wines. From land to hand, find out how your favorite wines are made and why specific grapes thrive on Vancouver Island.
Afternoon – $109.00-$140.00
Day Tour – $119.00-$150
Owner/Operator: Leslie Goodall
A family-friendly farm full of fun Fall festivities!
McNab’s Corn Maze:
The Corn Maze is now OPEN on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
A little later on in the season, from September 27th until October 31st, we will be open 7 days a week.
With our 7-acre Corn Maze, massive Pumpkin Patch (complete with Hayrides), and roadside Produce Stand, we have something for everyone to enjoy.
Located at 4613 Yellow Point Road, just a quick drive outside of Nanaimo. Come out for a visit and experience some real “Family Fun in the Country”!
Address: 2276 Anderton Rd., Comox
Hours: October 1st – 31st, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The kids’ corn/hay maze isn’t the only reason you’ll want to visit Shamrock Farm! In addition to a giant pumpkin patch and every variety of pumpkin you can think of, there’s an indoor pumpkin barn, farm animals, hayrides, pumpkin contests and a farm shop that sells garlic, lavender, herbs, vegetables, apples, goat milk soap and so much more!
Other information and amenities: Shamrock Farm prides itself on sustainable, organic farming practices, and showing off the farm to interested visitors.
Galey Farms Corn Maze
Address: 4150 Blenkinsop Rd., Victoria V8X 2C4
Make your way through this six-acre corn maze, and you’ll find exciting exhibits and surprises! You can climb the trellis to better get your bearings, and there’s also a fully animated ghost town and haunted mansion.
Other information and amenities: While you’re at Galey Farms, be sure to stop by the petting zoo, take a hayride, hop on the farm train and visit the farm market!
Address: 9537 West Saanich Rd., North Saanich V8L 5H1
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
With 14 acres to navigate, you won’t be bored at Corn Maze of the Pendray Farms!
Other information and amenities: Bring a flashlight, wear boots and leave puppy at home.