As an inquisitive writer, I love discovering lesser-known places in British Columbia. I remember about fifteen years ago doing exactly that on a trip from Horseshoe Bay north to Powell River on the section of Highway 101 that is affectionately known as “the Sunshine Coast”.

This entire coastline is full of fascinating stretches of sandy beaches, “landings”, beautiful scenery, and restaurants serving mouth-watering fresh seafood delicacies.  It also abounds with legend and history, more than enough to satisfy the most discerning history buff like me looking for something a little different. 

It is hard to imagine why Captain Vancouver 1771 referred to the entire area as a “dreary aspect” when he viewed it from Harwood Island. One hundred years later, however, when Dr. Israel Powell, B.C.’s first Indian Affairs Superintendent, toured the coastline aboard HMS Rocket, he was more impressed with the lay of the land and eventually the city of Powell River was established and named in his honor

But this section of Highway 101 does not in fact end at Powell River.  Instead, it continues for another 14 miles where it meanders into the historic village of Lund (Klah ah men). Throughout history, Lund was considered the ‘last stop in civilization’ so it became an important place for stocking up on fuel and provisions.  Logging and fishing were its mainstays, but when I last visited most of Lund’s community life centered around the harbor..

A few miles north-west of the Historic Townsite of Powell River, a steel bridge crosses over the river Powell (dubbed the shortest in the world), and this bridge heralds the entrance to delightful Powell Lake.  The first bridge was constructed there in 1916 enabling vehicular traffic to continue north, but prior to that date, the only way to reach the small fishing community of Lund was on foot or by boat.

Some may argue that Lund is really the beginning of the Highway.  In any event, a visit there was rather like stepping back to the beginning of time. A quiet village, with a year-round residential population of around 1,000 at that time, Lund’s charm lies in its laid-back atmosphere and the panoramic beauty of the bay. Lund has defied time and change for over ten decades sitting as it does on the very edge of civilization

Lund was first settled in 1889 by the Thulin brothers from Sweden who came to the new world searching for a better life.  They arrived in Vancouver and then took a side-wheeler tug named the Mermaid and headed for the sunshine coast.  They named the area Lund for the University City of Lund in Sweden.  First, they built a wharf, piped in water, and then cleared and drained the land for farming, and by 1894 had built the Lund Hotel which today is at the center of everything and holds the distinction of being the first hotel to be issued a license north of Vancouver

By 1895 the Thulin brothers were doing so well that they were able to build a large store with additional space added to handle mail being brought along the coast every three to four weeks from Hastings Mill in Vancouver.  In 1901 they bought the first donkey engine seen on the coast and built a steamboat called “The City of Lund”.

By 1902, the Lund Post Office was officially in business and now forms part of the hotel complex.  In other sections of the old hotel tourists now find a scuba diving store, a bakery, and an ice cream parlor.  A stroll along the promenade on the hotel’s second floor reveals a native craft shop and a frame shop, but Lund does not parade its wares in a commercial ‘touristy’ fashion.  These stores are simply a part of life in Lund, and Lund is simply a part of a serene bay on the sunshine coastline.

We headed down towards the wharf where the delights of “Nancy’s Bakery” could be experienced before reaching the Lund Water Taxi service which runs between Lund and Savary Island, named by Captain Vancouver because he considered it to be a refreshing change from the rest of the rugged coastline.  He even described it as a replica of a south-sea island.  Today, the island offers delightful hiking trails and miles of white, sandy beaches. It is rumored, but not confirmed, that the world’s largest arbutus tree grows in the middle of the island.

Meanwhile, a leisurely stroll along a trail circling Lund’s harbor took us past “Lund Scapes”, Lund’s solitary gift shop. A rather quaint waterwheel points the way to “Lund Lubbers”, a unique restaurant nestled on the side of the cliff.  Continuing along the boardwalk, Carver’s Restaurant is found which boasts of being “the home of the greatest cheese cake in the world”. You may never reach it, however, because you will be side-tracked watching small, playful otters scampering across the slippery rocks, or seagulls fighting over the remains of a fish.  And, gazing seaward, you might even imagine you can still see the graceful sailing vessels of Captain Vancouver or Cortez as they pass by in their Tall Ships.

By 1907 work had already begun in nearby Powell River on what was to become the first pulp and paper mill in Western Canada. But, just as Powell River grew, Lund, its small neighbor 14 miles to the north, somehow got overlooked.  And therein lies its greatest charm.  Stuck in a time warp at the end (or maybe the beginning?) of Highway 101, the small fishing village of Lund has successfully managed to resist all outside influences and retain its own unique character from a bygone era.

At least it was that way when I last visited, and I hope it is still true. Maybe another visit there is needed to be sure.