Visiting Brady’s Beach in Bamfield, B.C.

[From “Beauty and the Beach” in the Toronto Star, July 3, 2010]

BAMFIELD, B.C.—The perfect beach — far, far from crowds and close to heaven — is a traveller’s Holy Grail or Fountain of Youth, a thing of myth that sets us jetting over oceans to rummage around dots of rock and sand that belong to Thailand, or sailing about the Caribbean for the lone island that has escaped commerce.

Such extravagant explorations may not be necessary for Canadians, though. Brady’s Beach in Bamfield, a funny little place that Garrison Keillor or Richard Russo could go to town with, is a British Columbian beauty with many of the hallmarks of the legendary beach-to-end-all-beaches: It’s hard to reach and nearly unheard of; has not one café, chain hotel, Starbucks or McDonald’s near it; and possesses the ability to put your mind in a place you might only be able to reach with hard drugs.

To make it to the beach you first have to find your way to Bamfield. It has a population of not many and seems made for a fable.

Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, south of increasingly popular Tofino, Bamfield has no paved road leading into it. You can hike for days along the West Coast Trail or turn off the Trans-Canada Highway and drive 90 kilometres on a gravel road void of signposts, gas stations and anything else but logging trucks. Those trucks rumble at high speed and will let you know they believe the route is theirs. If you don’t set a pace they approve of, they’ll blow by, sending shrapnel in the form of pebbles into your vehicle’s windshield and frame.

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