Once you have enjoyed the sights at the Island Hall and Old Beach Club resort, continue the tour towards Parksville Downtown.
Climb the small road up to Hwy 19A – affectionately known to the locals as the old Island Highway. This historic route has woven itself into the local memories since its inception in 1912. Originally a rugged gravel road, the Island Hwy underwent several progressive expansions to accommodate the burgeoning growth of this region throughout the 20th century.
During the late 1990s through the early 2000s, a significant construction effort gave birth to the ‘Inland Island Highway,’ designed to modernize travel routes on Vancouver Island. While the new Island Highway replaced Hwy 19A as the primary choice for most island travelers, the old Island Hwy remains a beloved choice for those seeking a picturesque and relaxing journey along the coast.
As you cross the old Island Hwy, you will be entering the heart of our downtown business district – Parksville Downtown. Greeting you as you cross is a captivating public art installation that eloquently conveys the three fundamental layers of our biosphere: the sky, the land, and the sea. It’s a testament to the deep connection between this community and its natural surroundings.
You will also see one of several information kiosks placed throughout the Parksville Downtown area to assist in your exploration.
Heading up McMillan Street you will pass by Morison Street, the home of eclectic restaurants and vintage shops. Morison Street is just the beginning of your culinary and shopping adventure in Parksville Downtown. Throughout the area, a treasure trove of restaurants, vintage shops and locally-owned businesses eagerly await your exploration. Each of these establishments adds its own unique charm and character, personifying the way of life in Parksville, and promising a delightful and diverse experience for all who visit.
As you draw near to Memorial Avenue, you will discover the home of the McMillan Arts Centre (The MAC) on the right side of McMillan Street. Once Parksville’s McMillan School, it originally constructed in 1914 to accommodate the area’s growing student population. For decades, it served as an educational cornerstone for the community. With the opening of the new Parksville Elementary School in 1977, the McMillan School bid a farewell to its last generation of students. But its story was far from over.
Thanks to the determined efforts of the local arts community, the old McMillan School underwent a remarkable transformation. In 1986, it reopened its doors as The MAC – a vibrant community art center. Today, The MAC serves as a cherished venue for art exhibitions, captivating music performances, and a variety of other arts and culture events. It proudly functions as the ticket office for performances at the Parksville Outdoor Theatre in the Community Park, embodying its commitment to fostering creativity and culture within the city.
Continue to make memories down Memorial Avenue on this leisurely walking tour.