Located just a 40-minute ferry ride north of Vancouver, Gibsons is known as the home of the hit CBC TV series The Beachcombers, which ran for 19 seasons.
The quaint, quirky community has a rich history that goes back more than a century, and it all began in the hillside town's sheltered harbour facing Howe Sound.
First Nations and European Settlement
Before the coming of European settlers, modern-day Gibsons was part of the Squamish Nation's traditional territory. The local First Nations people inhabited a summer village east of the harbour, and engaged in traditional activities like fishing, hunting, and farming. Spanish and British ships explored the area in the 16th and 17th centuries, and Captain George Henry Richards of HMS Plumper named local islands circa 1859 and 1860.
Gibsons is named after George Gibson, the retired British naval officer who arrived here with his two sons aboard the sloop Swamp Angel in 1886. A farming-minded fellow, he claimed hectares/acres of local land, as did his sons, and began growing produce to sell in Vancouver. More settlers arrived at what was now known as Gibsons Landing as the 20th century approached. A school was opened in 1890, and Gibson served as the local judge and postmaster.
Gibsons in the 20th Century
Gibsons' got a boost in 1905 from an influx of Finnish settlers who had left behind the utopian socialist colony of Sointula on Malcolm Island. The Finns built community halls and planted succulent fruit crops. The opening of a pulp and paper mill at nearby Port Mellon in 1907 would prove to be another cornerstone of Gibsons' economy in the years to come. After undergoing several name changes, Gibsons settled on its current name in 1948. Gibsons was incorporated as a town in 1983.
The quiet fishing town received a major PR boost when The Beachcombers was shot here from 1972 to 1990, starring the late Bruno Gerussi as a salvager of loose logs in local ocean waters. Molly's Reach, the cafe depicted in the TV show, still exists today at Gibsons Landing, and its big yellow facade is impossible to miss.
Arts-minded and friendly, the people of Gibsons are happy to help visitors learn about local landmarks, waterfront shopping, artists and art galleries, festivals and events, and nearby natural getaways. The Gibsons area has lost none of its original natural beauty-ocean, mountains, forests, and wildlife – and chilling out is definitely on the list of things to do here.
Learn More about Gibsons
To learn more about the culture and history of Gibsons, check out area museums. An excellent starting point is the Sunshine Coast Museum in Gibsons Landing, featuring two floors of local historical artifacts and displays. Another option is to take a guided walking tour. Artwork Tours offers customized tours of Gibsons Landing, including historic landmarks, galleries, scenic lookout points, and more. The company also arranges visits to the studios of painters, potters, and other artists all along the Sunshine Coast.