Nanoose Bay Elementary uses Moorecroft Regional Park as a prime location for many class field trips. Each time I joined one of these excursions as a parent chaperone, I would say to my child “Do you know how lucky you are?”.
The class would walk the trails to try and spot owls, eagles and many other birds. They would climb the rocks and draw pictures of the beautiful ocean scenery and search for butterflies in the rocky knolls. And, of course, beachcombing for little crabs and other sea creatures was ever the popular sport followed by squeals of delight when found. The day would end with a picnic in the meadow under the shade of arbutus, oak and maple trees while watching dragonflies flit about.
Yes, Moorecroft Regional Park is truly a wonderment for all ages. And the absolute perfect place to while away the day.
A Bit of History
In partnership with The Nature Trust of BC, the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) acquired Moorecrfot Regional Park in 2011 from the United Church of Canada. Prior to that time, it was operated as a camp by both the United Church as well as its original owner, Miss Gertrude Moore.
Miss Moore, originally from Toronto, came out west in 1927 to become a PE director at the Vancouver Y.M.C.A. and was later in charge of women’s physical education at UBC. It was during her time at UBC that Moore also purchased and operated a girls camp in Nanoose Bay. The camp was named Moorecroft after her family’s homestead in Ontario.
Moore operated the all-girls camp for 20 successful years. By the end of summer 1954, Moore’s health was beginning to fail. She decided to contact Rev. Moses to discuss the future of her property. In 1955 the United Church of Canada bought the property and “Camp Moorecroft” ran first as a summer camp, then as a year-round camp for retreats, schools and community groups.
Of the 27 buildings that made up Camp Moorecroft, today, all that’s left is the boathouse; and, of course, a beautiful 35-hectare oceanfront park for all to enjoy.
For a deep dive into the history of Moorecroft, I encourage you to read:
Highlights of Moorecroft Regional Park
The park is popular for many active and passive outdoor recreational activities ranging from walking and nature appreciation to paddling, hiking, and scuba diving.
Here are a few not to be missed spots and activities:
Vesper Point – a beautiful trail leads out this rocky point giving you an unobstructed view of the snow-capped coastal mountains. During spring the trees lining the trail are in bloom, adding even more to your surroundings.
Cook’s Point – Follow the rocky beach out past the boathouse building to find the perfect spot to look out over Second Bay, and…watch the world go by. Often you’ll see Great Blue Heron perched way out on the rocks in front of Second Bay.
Wildlife Viewing – The park provides habitat for many species. Common species include Eagles, Blacktail deer, hummingbirds, Heron, ducks and other waterfowl. Out on the ocean, it’s not uncommon to see harbour seals and sea lions as well.
The Meadow – provides a lovely spot to picnic. There are 3-4 picnic benches available, but it’s also a great spot for a large blanket, and the perfect space to play field games.
Skipsey Lake – Follow the trail to this small lake (more of a swampy pond) and you may find a few of Moorecrofts rare species: the Northern Red-Legged Frog and the Western Painted Turtle. Look in the water and you’ll most definitely see a few salamanders.
Walk the Trails – Each time I go to Moorecroft Regional Park I seem to discover something new (and I have been there a lot). So enjoy the many stroller-friendly paths the park provides to see what you can see!
Moorecroft Regional Park is located at 1563 Stewart Road in Nanoose Bay. Stewart Road is accessed off of Northwest Bay Road. If you are coming from Highway 19, take the Northwest Bay Road exit off the highway (at the Petro Canada in Nanoose).
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