City of Bamfield:
Population: 155....and counting.
Located on the Barkley sound, west coast beautiful Vancouver Island.
Despite spending the better half of 20 years in Parksville, I am slightly ashamed to admit, that, aside from a high school biology field trip, (in which my girlfriends and I discovered jellyfish implants...(exactly what it sounds like, I am so, so, sorry)), I have not, until this past weekend had the joy of exploring this charming little fishing town. It was a first of what i hope to be many weekends away with my new fella.
Bamfield Marine Sciences Center BMSC, The Rix Centre
When a little bird told me that the BMSC was known for hosting high class events, and was looking to expand to corporate retreats and...yes....you guessed it...WEDDINGS! My many little brain gears began spinning faster and faster. I decided i needed to go check it out myself. I needed to get a better understanding of what high class events might look like in Bamfield. Albeit slightly doubtful, and moderately overwhelmed, I started fantasizing about corporate retreats overlooking the inlet, complete with caviar and Dom Perignon. Wedding ceremonies on Pachena Beach followed by a reception in the beautiful Rix Centre, and bride and groom photos on Standup Paddle Boards. I started imagining wine pairing dinners on the beach, or even better; ON A BOAT, whiskey tastings, and....ok, you get the picture. I got excited.
So, Dan and I loaded up his truck with what we thought was everything, and hit the road. Cross-fade 4 hours later; after multiple trips from one side of town to the other to pickup and drop off the many things we forgot, the tires finally hit that traitorous, gravelly, West Coast road.
A little under 2 hours later we arrived.
Taking in the tranquility and beauty of wild Bamfield, B.C, I realized that my teenage brain couldn't possibly have comprehended the magic within this tiny little piece of paradise. I was instantly grateful to have returned.
We were greeted by the financial manager, Lee. She was lovely, down to earth and very welcoming. We stayed in an adorable little rustic cabin at the University, and were invited for dinner at the Cafe. After dinner, we went back to our cute little wooden cabin and I tried on a million outfits before finally settling on the one I was originally wearing.
Fashionably-late, Dan and I headed out the door with what we thought was everything we needed. Cross-fade an hour later, after multiple trips to the market and the motel (those are literally the names the of the market and the motel!) in a slightly embarrassing effort to take out cash from two broken ATM's, we arrived an hour and half not-so fashionably late to this evenings event; Ales, Oysters and Authors...or some other variation of those three words.
Worried about our tardiness, Dan and I sheepishly waited in the doorway. To our delight and slight surprise, we quickly learnt that the term "Island Time" was likely derived after a weekend get-away in the town of Bamfield. not five minutes after we tip-toed in, another group marched right through and established themselves at the back of the hall. Phew. Crisis adverted.
The room was beautifully setup. the Rix Centre at the BMSC overlooks the inlet with huge floor to ceiling windows. Nestled in front of the windows was a sweet little platform stage where sat an author reading an excerpt from a novel she had recently written. Around 65 white folding chairs were setup in semi-circular rows in front of the stage, and around 6 hightop tables with 2-4 seats each behind them. All seating was taken, and there were maybe an additional 20 guests standing in the back. There were roughly 100 people in attendance. Considering the population of Bamfield, I was floored.
Right behind the seating was a silent auction; proceeds were dedicated to future community literacy initiatives. The donations were wonderful; a weekend get-a-way to Waters Edge (a beautiful resort in Ucluelet, B.C), the SoBo cookbook from Tofinos esteemed Sobo restaurant, Seasons tickets to Port Alberni's, Potal Player Dramatic Society, beautiful pieces of art donated by West Coast Vancouver Island artists, and many, many more.
At the far end of the room, I was delighted to find my friends from Effingham Oysters serving a variety of Barkley Sound Raw and baked deliciousness. I loaded up my plate with wasabi and mignonette seasoned #foodporn, and made my way to the bar.
My popularity ego skyrocketed when I realized that my friends from Tofino Brewing Co. were serving some of my favourite local West Coast Vancouver Island Craft Beers; including, my all time favourite; Tofino Kelp Stout. I introduced Dan to all my friends, and we began navigating the networking waters of the Rix Centre. Everyone was so friendly, welcoming, warm and approachable. I chatted with as many people as I could, to find out how they liked living in Bamfield, what brought them there, and the big question; what sort of events do they foresee in the future of their magical marine home.
Everyone was very receptive to my questions, and let me in on their stories. I noticed that most residents weren't originally from Bamfield, it seemed as though almost everyone I spoke with had moved from a city, or at the very least, a much larger town, and had fallen in love with the charm of this little gem. Nobody wants Bamfield to change, and I think that is beautiful. It doesn't need to change. Bamfield is a special place, and, coming someone who normally wants to help grow economies, trying to change this little piece of paradise would be a tragedy.
The next day we slept in and made a #glamping breakfast of poached eggs, english muffins and....canned beans.
We managed to pack everything up first try, waved goodbye to our woodland cabin and began our Bamfield beach tour. We made our way to the dock where a friendly local offered us a ride across the water. We docked in West Bam about 5 minutes later and began exploring the wild- only accessible by boat- dirt roads, forests and beaches of West Bamfield, British Columbia.
We explored the west side for most of the day, and took a water taxi back to the mainland. Our final stop was Pachena Bay. I hadn't been there since high school, and I wanted to see about the potential for beach front weddings. We didn't time the tides too well, so didn't get to see the vast kilometres of real estate available at low tide. still a beautiful spot to sit down and watch the relentless waves come crashing in.
I am so looking forward to another opportunity to escape reality, listen to the waves, meet interesting people and eat oysters. Bamfield, you haven't seen the last of me!