Comox is a town of about 15,000 people on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Along with several other communities, it is situated in the Comox Valley. The nearby Comox Glacier is visible from many parts of the town and is the area’s signature landmark.
The Pentlatch were among the first people who lived on the land. By the 19th century, the K’ómoks had also settled there. In 1861, Governor James Douglas issued a land and settlement proclamation for the Koumox Valley to divert new settlers away from the Victoria area as well as from the newly discovered Cariboo gold fields. In 1862, the smallpox epidemic that swept across Vancouver Island killed an estimated 30 percent of First Nations people.
In 1864, seams of coal were discovered in nearby foothills, but it wasn’t until 1888 that mines opened in the neighbouring village of Cumberland. The area eventually became known for its agriculture, lumber, and fishing industries as well. However the Comox Valley remained isolated from the outside world until the First World War, when roads and a railway were built into the area. In 1940, the Royal Navy built a training facility on Goose Spit. The building of an air force base near the village during the Second World War brought new prosperity.
In recent years, Comox has become a popular tourist attraction due to its fishing, wildlife, year-round golf, proximity to the Mount Washington ski area, and Strathcona Provincial Park. The town is also home to a Royal Canadian Air Force base CFB Comox, an airport for military and commercial airline use and the Sea Cadet training facility HMCS Quadra.
In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II briefly toured the town during her visit to Canada.
The mild climate has attracted many retirees to the area, resulting in a high rate of growth and a sharp increase in the median age of residents.
Some notable people who either grew up in, or spent a significant portion of their life, in Comox include actress/model Pamela Anderson; NHL players Byron Dafoe, Adin Hill, Brett McLean,
Cam Neely, and Ty Wishart; and Olympians Cassie Sharpe, Carle Brenneman, Thomas Herschmiller, and Roy Sharplin.
In 1922, ornithologist and naturalist Hamilton Mack Laing moved to Comox. The naturalist became an influential voice in the nascent conservation movement over the next 50 years.
In July 2020, the average price of a single-family home in the Comox Valley was $614,406. This marked an increase of 7 percent from the previous year.
According to the federal 2016 census, Comox had a population of 14,028, with a median age of 51.8 years old. Average after-tax household income was just over $69,000.
The Comox Golf Course opened as a private course in 1928 and later as a public course in 1934. Located in downtown Comox, the nine-hole course continues to this day.
In 1983, naturalist Hamilton Laing died, leaving his house Shakesides and undeveloped land along the shore of Comox Bay to the town on the condition that the land be left in its natural state. The result is the Mack Laing Nature Park, with a trail that runs from the last untouched section of the Great Comox Midden up through three hectares (7.4 acres) of second-growth forest.
Other activities in and around Comox include sailing (there are three marinas), canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and road biking.
Two-and-a-half km from downtown Comox, Goose Spit Park features beachfront on both sides with views to the south, east and west. Goose Spit is a popular place for kite-boarding in the fall and winter season and a paddling, beach-fire and swimming destination in the summer.
Thirty minutes from Comox, Mount Washington offers spectacular views, hiking and zip-lining during the summer and skiing during the winter. Further up the highway, Strathcona Provincial Park offers hiking in Paradise Meadows.
The Filberg Festival is an arts and crafts fair that takes place each summer on the BC Day long weekend. On the same weekend, Comox also holds Nautical Days in Comox Marina Park. Nautical Days includes a parade, a classic car show, an amateur boat-building competition, and live music.
Comox hosts two of the nine museums in the Valley. Comox Archives and Museum offers a glimpse into the history of the town. The Comox Air Force Museum commemorates the role and history of the Air Force, and documents significant achievements in coastal military aviation history.
Popular eateries include Comox Soup Shack, Church Street Woodfired Bakery, and Martine’s Bistro. Breweries include New Tradition and Gladstone Brewing.
The Artist’s Eye is an eight-stop tour that includes several gift shops, including Island Affair Giftwear, Blue Heron Books, and Pearl Ellis Gallery (the latter features original Vancouver Island and local art), as well as stops for gelato and heritage parks. The Comox Centre Mall is a popular shopping spot.