Alistair Taylor’s Daily Walk in the Park is a look at Campbell River’s city parks in celebration of Recreation and Parks Month.
Dick Murphy Park is probably one of Campbell River’s most spectacular parks.
Located on the Tyee Spit it’s surround by water on three sides (it being a spit and all) – Discovery Passage on the east side, the entrance to the Campbell River estuary on the north end and the estuary itself on the west side.
The Tyee Spit is like a retaining wall or barrier pushed up against the tidal currents of Discovery Passage rolling north and south twice a day with the tides. The spit protects the mouth of the Campbell River and creates a sheltered estuary that is vitally important to salmon.
The spit and Dick Murphy Park are virtually one and the same, not exactly but virtually. The park comprises the end of the spit itself starting from about halfway while the base or first half of the spit retains its longstanding industrial/commercial nature.
The Tyee Spit has a long and less than steller history. Of course, it was the jumping off point, literally, for early salmon fishing in the estuary and on the famous Tyee Pool from which the famed Tyee (a Chinook salmon larger than 30 lbs.) were hooked and hauled out, bringing early fame to the Campbell River area as sportfishing mecca.
Later in the 20th Century, the spit became a logging hub and the estuary itself was torn apart as a booming ground for logs being taken to mills in the Vancouver area and elsewhere. Luckily, it was later restored through a massive community effort.
I love this video which shows the restoration of Baikie Island which is just across the estuary from Tyee Spit and comprises the clean up of the estuary:
The spit also became the perfect setting for a floatplane and helicopter base as well as the east side and north end becoming home to two or three RV Parks.
In the end, the spit had become totally alienated from any public use. When I first moved here in 1989, I learned of the spit and thought I’d love to walk along it and maybe go out to the end of it. It’s a thing I like to do when I’m at the sea.
Well, the first time I went down there, I parked my car and started walking but I didn’t get very far. Access to the end of the spit was prohibited by the presence of the RV parks. Unless you go along the beach but I didn’t realize that at the time.
But I was annoyed, thinking what a lost opportunity for public access.
But later, part of the Tyee Spit would come into the City of Campbell River’s hands and the RV Parks on the end had to move on. The space became a public park with walking paths, benches, a playground and viewing platforms out onto the estuary (one being a bird blind). It’s a gorgeous place.
It’s a lovely walking space allowing you to do a circuit (or many if you’re aiming to improve your fitness). It’s like a walking track but with one of the greatest views you can ask for.
The floatplane base is still there as is the helicopter landing pad but the Tyee Spit, through the creation of Dick Murphy Park is a wonderful place to walk and explore. Launch your canoe or kayak and explore the estuary at a high tide, you can’t beat it.
Meanwhile, in case you missed my visit to Cambridge Park (one of many I’ve been visiting every day or Recreation and Parks Month):