Hamilton Marsh, the largest wetland between Nanaimo and Cumberland, is worth a drive by visit or a stop on your next Oceanside weekend tour. It’s near the junction of highways 19 and 4, where the road from Qualicum Beach to Port Alberni crosses the Island Highway. Turn off Highway 19 toward Port Alberni and drive just over a kilometer south to Hilliers Road. Turn right and proceed 1.4 km to the second parking area on the left. A broad trail leads straight down to the marsh where you’ll find a long wooden pier. If the sun is shining, bring along a folding chair and enjoy the afternoon.
Many of the 130 species of birds observed here nest locally. Salmon ply these waters and unique species of dragonflies and amphibians dwell among the reeds. Hamilton Marsh is owned by Island Timberlands which has rejected attempts by the Regional District of Nanaimo and others to preserve it as a park. The strategic location near the corner of two important highways makes this a valuable development property and mammon rules in corporate boardrooms. Nearly three-quarters of the wetlands in British Columbia have already been lost to logging or development, which makes saving the Hamilton Marshes which remain all the more important. Save Hamilton Marsh!