See What Tofino and Ucluelet Was Like in the 1960s

Have you ever wondered what it was like in Tofino and Ucluelet 50 years ago? If you’re already familiar with our photolog video series, you know how fascinating it is to tour British Columbia as it once was, frozen in the 1960s. (And if this is your first photolog… well, get your popcorn, because you’ve got some catching up to do!)

(If you do not see the video above, view it on YouTube.)

Our latest BC Time Machine takes our intrepid viewers on a journey to the West Coast of Vancouver Island during a time of significant transition for the area – 1966. Highway 4 from Port Alberni to the coast, also known as the Pacific Rim Highway, had been built just a few years prior, in 1959, as a logging access road. You’ll notice in the video that the highway was still dirt and gravel back in 1966, although the road between Ucluelet and Tofino is paved. It wasn’t until 1972 that Highway 4 was fully paved, making it Canada’s first paved road to the open waters of the Pacific Ocean.

This winding road takes you past many landmarks of the west coast of Vancouver Island. Bonus points for getting us a final count on how many Volkswagons you spot!

The “Junction” – 0:50

Long Beach – 1:18-2:28

Defunct entrance to 1993 Clayoquot Peace Camp – 4:51

Kennedy Lake – 5:16 – 7:00

Vintage West Coast Rain/Roadkill?/Stop the car/Clear the camera lens – 9:13-9:16

Port Alberni (Highway 4)– 14:22 – 15:15

Old Alberni Highway 15:14 – 15:50

Coombs (Sorry, no goats on the roof just yet!) – 19:35

Parksville – 20:30

The highway continues to change more than 50 years later. Highway 4 will experience a modern transition starting in 2018, with plans set to widen and straighten the 1.5-kilometre stretch at Kennedy Lake, located 14 kilometres east of the Ucluelet-Tofino junction. This section is known for its sharp curves and poor sight lines, which you can experience in the photolog starting at around 5:32.

What are Photologs?

“Photologs” were created to capture road condition information across the province and give our engineers the ability to study a particular stretch of road without having to travel into the field. The original photologs were collected by rigging a camera onto the dash of a car that took still images every 80 feet or so and then running them all together as a single film.

Looking back on these old reels reveals a lot more than just pavement condition. The camera installed onto the dash of a car and driven over 9,000 km of BC highways captured some incredible glimpses of our province during the heyday that was the 60’s. So sit back, relax and watch this glimpse of a world long gone by in the rear view mirror.

Are you patiently waiting to see footage of a particular BC highway that we haven’t shared yet? Let us know in the comments below.

Page 1 of 27 comments on “See What Tofino and Ucluelet Was Like in the 1960s”

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  1. Omg….. Every year we would camp on Long Beach….. And that road was quite the Experience to say the least…. Great Times….

  2. Long Beach was more than an annual holiday…most exciting to drive in the convoy with ambulances, food trucks and fire engines at both ends of the long queue of vehicles when the horrible fire occurred on the MacBoe property. Great memories, super flick!

  3. Great memories; remember driving on the gravel for what seemed to be an never ending day early 60s when I was a kid from Nanaimo. We could actually drive on long beach in those days.

    • Summer of 69; 59 Volkswagen, surfboard on the roof and three guys lookin for adventure. Meet up wth the locals living in driftwood and plastic shelters on the beach (surf all summer and work cutting cedar shakes all winter). Switchbacks, I remember the switchbacks. Did I miss them in the video?

      • Not so many switchbacks as there are sharp corners that we can see Ian. Might have been a local logging road?

        • Yes… the original Highway was a knitting together of the many logging roads between the West Coast and Port Alberni. The “Switchbacks” were above Sproat Lake and took you back and forth high up the mountain… then back and forth all the way back down to lake level again.
          It was not for many years that they cut the highway through along the lake and made going up and down the mountain unnecessary.