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These are the five smallest towns on Vancouver Island

From rugged coastlines and lush rainforests to serene beaches and vibrant cities, Vancouver Island is home to a wide range of communities.

While many are familiar with the island’s major hubs like Victoria and Nanaimo, it’s the quaint, lesser-known towns that often hold the most enchanting surprises.

These small communities, often overshadowed by their larger neighbours, boast unique histories, rich cultural tapestries, and a slower pace of life that invites visitors to pause and appreciate the island’s natural beauty.

Without further ado, here are five of the smallest towns on Vancouver Island, according data from Statistics Canada census 2021:


(Istvan Hernadi Photography)

Zeballos is a quaint village located on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. Known for its rich history in gold mining, Zeballos is nestled within rugged terrain and surrounded by breathtaking wilderness, making it a haven for adventurers and nature enthusiasts.

Earlier this year, the town gained notoriety when a female killer whale, stranded on a beach while teaching her calf to hunt, died, despite the valiant effort of community attempting to save the stranded mammal. Following that, community members spent over a month attempting to rescue the calf after it became stuck in the lagoon.

  • Population: Approximately 107 (2021 Census)
  • Location: West coast of Vancouver Island


Tahsis is a small, picturesque village located on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Nestled in the heart of the rugged coastal rainforest and surrounded by majestic mountains, this remote community is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Known for its rich Indigenous heritage and vibrant history as a logging and fishing hub, Tahsis offers a unique blend of cultural experiences and natural beauty.

The village is a gateway to world-class kayaking, hiking, and wildlife viewing opportunities, making it an ideal destination for those seeking adventure or tranquility in a pristine wilderness setting.

  • Population: Approximately 316 (2021 Census)
  • Location: Northern Vancouver Island, at the head of Tahsis Inlet


This small village is a gateway to the rich biodiversity of the Sayward Forest and is popular among hikers, wildlife enthusiasts, and those seeking a quiet retreat.

  • Population: Approximately 331 (2021 Census)
  • Location: Northeast coast of Vancouver Island

Gold River

Gold River, established in the 1960s as a logging hub with the nearby river facilitating timber transport, has since shifted its economic focus to tourism and outdoor activities. Visitors can engage in hiking, fishing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing amidst its scenic landscapes.

The village’s proximity to historic Nootka Island, where Captain James Cook first encountered Indigenous peoples in the late 18th century, adds to its cultural significance. Gold River boasts a welcoming community deeply connected to its natural surroundings, making it a serene retreat from urban life for nature enthusiasts.

  • Population: Approximately 1,272 (2021 Census)
  • Location: West-central part of Vancouver Island

 Alert Bay

This small community is rich in Indigenous culture and heritage, home to the ‘Namgis First Nation, and features attractions like the U’mista Cultural Centre and the world’s tallest totem pole.

  • Population: Approximately 489 (2021 Census)
  • Location: Cormorant Island, off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island


Have you visited any of these communities? Let us know in the comment section.

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