Another Island Drive

One of the great drives on Vancouver Island is a road trip to Port Renfrew on the West Coast. From the Oceanside area where we are it is 179 kilometres and will take you 3 hours. Take the Island Highway to Duncan and make a right turn at #18, the Cowichan Valley Highway. Continue through Lake Cowichan to Mesachie Lake and then turn left on the Pacific Marine Road. This road is a logging road, now fully paved. It is windy and twisty, a drivers delight. There are still some single lane bridges and on week days you will encounter logging trucks which seem to favour the middle of road, adding to the excitement.   There is no centre line, by the way.

The scenery is spectacular through one of the great logging areas of the province. You will see old growth, new reforested growth and clear cuts too.

There is not much in Port Renfrew as the full time population is only 140 or so. But there are a few resorts if you choose to stay over. Big Fish Lodge or Wild Renfrew Seaside Cottages look interesting. If you are stopping for lunch check out the eateries on Trip Advisor before you go. There are 5 spots for lunch but I’d likely choose the Pub.

On our last two trips on this route we took a picnic and enjoyed a beach near Jordan River watching Surfers whilst sipping on a chilled bottle of Rosé.

The best option would be to continue to Point No Point, 58 kilometres further down the coast, just south of Jordan River. It is wonderful spot overlooking Juan De Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. You might want to overnight here or at least stop for lunch.The rooms look charming and cosy. The menu looks inviting. We spend a romantic afternoon there years ago when I was courting my favourite girl. I think we need to go back and stay over.

Why not make it a round trip through Victoria. You can do it in one long day if you are a driving nut like me but a sleepover in Port Renfrew, Point no Point, Sooke, or Victoria is probably more prudent. On Day two you could visit the KINSOL Trestle or a couple of wineries on the way home.

Just saying…





Found Another Pub

Just when I was running out of eateries on which to report, my friend Tim suggested I meet him for lunch in Nanaimo at CARLOS O’BRYANS Pub today. I’m glad he did because this pub is right on the water overlooking a marina and sitting beside Stones Boatyard. So there is lots to see.


CARLOS O’BRYANS is a chain with pubs in several BC cities. A sister chain, Kelly O’Bryans is a neighbourhood restaurant in some other locations.  I had not heard of them before.  Based in Kelowna, the the boss man is Reg Henry.

The Nanaimo property is a Pub and a nice one, too. Formerly it was known as Muddy Waters, a joint I never frequented, but it has been completely redone. It has a cosy interior with a big brick fireplace, a big bar, mostly high tables and a great Maritime view. At least 12 big flat screens were on without sound so it could be a goto place for sports fans. In warm weather there is a big deck hanging over the water. I will be trying it out this summer for sure.IMG_5916

The menu is very much Pub food. PACHOS are the featured appetizer. Lattice style fries with a variety of toppings. From burgers to seafood to Prime Rib, the menu is pretty inviting. We opted for the special today, Prime Rib, rice and bean Burrito. Mine arrived with a Caesar salad, Tim’s with lattice fries. Very tasty indeed.

Of course there is a wide range of beer available.

If you are in Nanaimo and looking for a pub lunch or dinner, CARLOS O’BRYANS could be the place for you. I liked it and will be back.

It is located at 1724 Stewart Street just east of the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal. Lots of free parking too.

Just saying…

Island Destinations




With the Spring Weather finally improving, one begins to think of driving destinations on Vancouver Island. Interesting destinations are plentiful up and down the island and future blogs will elaborate on ones we have visited. But let’s start the season with a visit to the KINSOL TRESTLE.

Train buffs may already know about the KINSOL Trestle but I had not heard of it until moving back to the island. Located near Shawnigan Lake, the Trestle is now a regional Park. Started in 1911 but not finished until 1920 the KINSOL is a fine example of the engineering and construction of wood beam trestles. It is 614 feet long and 145 feet above the Koksilah River. Although abandoned and vandalized over the years, the Trestle has been fully restored and is now a spectacular sight. The tracks have been removed and you stroll across the entire span. It is a pleasant 1.2 kilometre walk from the parking lot to the trestle. Picnic tables are available too, if you are in a picnic mood.

If you are not into lunchtime self sufficiency, then you may want to dine at the Merridale Cidery or at Unsworth Vinyards, both in nearby Cobble Hill. Check their websites to make sure they are open for lunch. We suggest you go on a weekday when it is less busy.

If you are into walking or hiking, consider a hike along the Cowichan Valley Trail which extends from the trestle.

To get to the KINSOL Trestle drive south past Duncan on Highway 1 and turn west on the Cobble Hill/Shawnigan Lake road into Shawnigan Lake. Turn right on Renfrew Road and continue to Glen Eagles Road. Turn right and you will find the parking lot.

From Parksville/Qualicum Beach it’s a 90 minute drive each way. Make a day of the drive. Enjoy some history and perhaps some wine tasting too.

If you want to see a Trestle but don’t want to drive far, turn on to Drew Road off of 19A between Parksville and Qualicum Beach, drive up to the tracks and park.  Walk south by the tracks about 100 yards and you are at the French Creek Trestle, the longest on the Island. Quite spectacular.

For more info go to

Just saying…


Prior to moving to the island we were spoiled with the wide selection of fine Chinese Restaurants in the lower mainland. Our go to place in North Vancouver is RED CHILLI Szechuan Restaurant at 741 Lonsdale. If you are in Vancouver you must try it. Choose the Ginger Beef, Singapore Noodles and Prawns in Black Bean Sauce with peanuts. You will not be disappointed.

On the Island, alas, the choices are few and far between. Tan’s in Parksville apparently has a good Buffett but we have not tried it. Not crazy about buffets. We have heard negative reports on China Kitchen so will give it a pass.

However, on two occasions we have enjoyed, with a large group of friends, take out from the NEW CANTON RESTAURANT in Qualicum Beach. This week the take out included about 10 different items and the food was enthusiastically attacked by the gang. We all thought it was pretty good and would most certainly order from the New Canton again. None of us have dined in the joint so I will make an attempt to do so and report back.

There are several Chinese places in Nanaimo and Ping Hui, the lady at The Winery, told me that Shanghai City is quite good. From two other sources I have heard that DA TANG in Beban Plaza on Bowen Road is very good. It’s Szechuan so it’s spicy. It is well rated on Trip Advisor. I’m going to give it a try. Will it compare to my beloved RED CHILLI? We will see.

If any readers have good things to report on Chinese Food, please let me know by email.

Just saying…

Our Favourite Pub

Since moving to Paradise, aka Vancouver Island, we have developed a fondness for pubs, particularly for lunch. There are many fine establishments including Comox’s Black Fin, Qualicum’s Shady Rest, the Rocking Horse in Nanoose, the Lantzville Pub, Spinnaker’s and the Penny Farthing in Victoria, and many more. All unique, all good, all serving great beers and generally good, reasonably priced food.

However there is one pub that, in our opinion, is a step above. In Cedar, south of Nanaimo is our favourite, the CROW AND GATE PUB! Opened in 1972, this great spot was build by a refugee from Sussex, England,  Jack Nash, and it was the first neighbourhood pub in BC.

Constructed in traditional British style with great attention to detail, including Pegged beam & plaster, exposed beams, massive stonework open fireplaces, heavy wood trestle tables. Low ceilings. A real British watering hole.

In the traditional way, you must order both drink and food at the bar. The food is then delivered to your table and it is not just good…it is excellent. My favourite girl always has the Crab Cakes which she proclaims amongst the best anywhere. And she knows crab cakes. I almost always order the Beef Dip. Both are served with fresh crisp salads with a very tasty dressing. Need the dressing recipe? I have it. Not too hungry? Ask for a half order and they are happy to comply.


These are the Crab Cakes.

No deep fryer here, so if you are looking for Fish & Chips, you are in the wrong place.
Here is just some of the other pub fare.

Pan fried oysters
Bratwurst Pub plate
Steak and Mushroom or a Steak & Kidney Pie ( made in house)
Scotch egg pub plate
Stilton & Leek quiche
Ploughmans plate.
Clam chowder
Curried Mac & Cheese

Like Irish Stew? They serve it all day on Friday. Roast Beef? Every Wednesday and Saturday night. We have had it. It is excellent and generous in size.

Libations? The CROW & GATE PUB has a wide range of beers and ales and a wine selection too. Not a drinker? Have a pot of tea in a pot with a knitted tea cozy.

In the summer, this pub has, not a patio, but a fabulous outdoor garden area with picnic tables. It is simply a charming place to enjoy lunch in the sun.


The CROW & GATE PUB is a very popular destination pub so it is always really busy. My recommendation to avoid waiting is to Arrive before 11:45 or after 2:00. Weekends are even busier. Why? Because it is just possibly the best pub on the Island.

If you have not already been, you MUST go. It is just south of Cedar on the road to Yellow Point.

Good thing the CROW & GATE PUB is a 50 minute drive from home, otherwise I would be lunching there several times a week!
Check out their web site at

Just saying…