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Tour Memorial Avenue

After you’ve enjoyed a visit to the Parksville Outdoor Theatre in the Community Park, it’s time to discover Memorial Avenue.

Memorial Avenue

Make a left turn onto Memorial Avenue, and you’ll find yourself on one of Parksville’s most storied and welcoming streets. In the wake of the First World War, the Parksville Women’s Institute made a poignant choice by designating this avenue as a memorial to the brave men from Parksville who lost their lives in service overseas during the war.

As a tribute to each fallen soldier, an elm tree was lovingly planted, and these trees stand tall and proud to this day, preserving the memory of these courageous individuals and their sacrifice. Walking along Memorial Avenue, you can’t help but feel the weight of history and the enduring spirit of remembrance that graces this remarkable street.

Memorial Plaza

Established in 2022, Memorial Plaza has quickly become a vibrant hub for a myriad of events that grace Parksville throughout the year. This inviting space offers a multitude of opportunities, whether you’re seeking a tranquil spot to enjoy takeout for a leisurely and shaded lunch or planning a rendezvous with a friend beneath the comforting canopy of the city’s historical elm trees.

Memorial Plaza stands as a testament to the town’s commitment to community and connection, serving as a welcoming place for residents and visitors alike. For a comprehensive overview of the exciting events happening in Parksville Downtown, be sure to click here to access the Parksville Downtown Calendar of Events.

Rod and Gun Bar & Grill

As your visit to Memorial Plaza ends, head towards Alberni Hwy. Cast your gaze to the right and you’ll come upon the historic Rod and Gun Bar and Grill. The roots of this establishment trace back to the early days of Parksville’s history.

In 1885, the pioneering spirit of John and Anne Hirst led them to be the first to settle at the mouth of the Englishman River. Here, John and his brothers embarked on farming endeavors and constructed their first hotel, the Seaview. Unfortunately, the Seaview met a fiery end, but this setback didn’t deter John Hirst. He purchased a wooded plot of land from Theodore Parks, the town’s inaugural postmaster and the source of Parksville’s name.

With determination and vision, John erected a new hotel in 1896, known as the Rod and Gun Hotel. The name was a reflection of the hotel’s popularity among the numerous hunters and fishermen who frequented the area. This landmark was among the very first structures to be built within the present town site, symbolizing the enduring spirit of Parksville’s past and its continuing commitment to hospitality.

Over the years, the hotel has undergone several renovations and transformations. While it may no longer offer accommodations as it did in its early days, the Rod & Gun has maintained its presence as a thriving pub and restaurant on the same historic site since 1998.

During the summer months, visitors and locals alike are drawn to the charming and shaded patio located on the side of the building. This delightful outdoor space serves as an ideal spot to enjoy a leisurely lunch or partake in a refreshing afternoon beverage, adding to the enduring allure of the Rod & Gun as a beloved gathering place in the heart of Parksville.


Ready for the last leg of our tour? Discover the heart of Parksville Downtown and Middleton Avenue.


Parksville Downtown

Once you have enjoyed the sights at the Island Hall and Old Beach Club resort, continue the tour towards Parksville Downtown.

Hwy 19A

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.

Parksville Downtown

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.

Vintage Shops

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.

Parksville Beach

Embark on a delightful stroll through the picturesque streets of Parksville Downtown, where history and charm converge on this leisurely walking tour.

Start your adventure amidst the serene beauty of the Parksville Community Park. The allure and promise of this place were not lost on the early settlers and, in 1922, they started discussions about establishing a waterfront park to preserve the area’s charm.

Driven by boundless enthusiasm, a dedicated group of citizens led the community in a fund-raising campaign that culminated in a momentous occasion – the grand opening of the park on July 1, 1923.

Upon entering the park, you’ll encounter the Parksville Lions Club Ventureland Playground and the adjacent Outdoor Gym. Continue your journey, heading towards the famous Parksville Beach Boardwalk. From this spot, you’ll have the opportunity to admire the breathtaking vistas of Parksville Bay from the blue-roofed gazebo. You’ve reached the official starting point of your Discover Parksville – Downtown Loop Tour.

The Beach

Depending on the time of day, the beachfront offers varying degrees of splendour. During high tide, gentle waves serenely lap at the edge of a sandy expanse adorned with driftwood, and occasionally revealing the coveted treasure of ‘sea glass’ waiting to be discovered. Enthusiastic paddleboarders and kayakers can be seen enjoying the calm waters of Parksville Bay.

When the tide recedes, an amazing seascape unfolds, stretching approximately a kilometre from the shoreline. A pristine sandy beach emerges, boasting delightfully warm waters that beckon waders, swimmers and thrill-seeking skimboarders.

The Salish Sea

As you make a left turn, saunter along the boardwalk savoring the awe-inspiring vistas of the Salish Sea and the magnificent silhouette of Mount Arrowsmith gracing the horizon.

Parksville Bay’s pristine waters host a diversity of wildlife, and provide a home to Pacific harbour seals, the seasonal sea lions, and salmon as well as majestic bald eagles perched above the shoreline watching for the salmon! The legendary sand dollars, known for their delicate beauty, are uncovered during low tide and capture the imagination of beach explorers.

The Salish Sea’s waters form an essential part of the marine ecosystem, boasting the largest Pacific herring spawning grounds along the BC Coast. These tiny fish lay an average of about 20,000 eggs, which adhere to the eelgrass or seaweed. These eggs provide crucial sustenance to the multitude of Brandt geese that visit the Parksville area each spring.

Coast Salish People

For thousands of years, the Coast Salish people called the area surrounding the Englishman River their home. The nearby sheltered bay served as a favourite location for fishing and harvesting shellfish. However, by the time the early settlers arrived, the population of the First Nations had tragically dwindled significantly, primarily due to the devastating massacres inflicted by marauding coastal tribes in the early 1800s.

The Coast Salish People constitute a vast and diverse collective, encompassing numerous distinct cultures and languages. Among them, the Snaw-naw-as people derive their name from the lone survivor of one of the tragic battles in the 1800s. Today, they are situated in the vicinity of Nanoose Bay, preserving their unique heritage and traditions. Similarly, the Qualicum First Nation resides at the mouth of the Big Qualicum River in Qualicum Bay, further enriching the rich tapestry of indigenous cultures that have shaped this coastal area of BC.

The Old Island Hall location.

As you approach another charming gazebo, the boardwalk path draws to an end, but your adventure carries on. You’ll find yourself adjacent to the Beach Club Resort, an establishment that now occupies the historic site of Parksville’s renowned Island Hall.

The Island Hall, a grand establishment that opened its doors in 1917, was a vision brought to life by British entrepreneurs Joan Foster and Winnifred Philpott. They arrived on Vancouver Island at the onset of World War One, and their ambitious project would go on to become one of Parksville’s premier accommodation destinations for an impressive span of 80 years.

If you like, take a moment to peruse the extensive memorabilia wall on the main floor of the Beach Club Resort. It pays homage to the legacy of Island Hall, preserving the memories and stories of this cherished piece of Parksville’s history.

Ready to continue to Parksville Downtown? We’ll see you there.