Published On: Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Comox Valley Chamber 1919 to 1938: Building Bonds Between the Wars



In 1919, after five years of war, Courtenay-Comox was ready to get back to business. On March 22, riding a new-found sense of optimism, a group of businessmen officially chartered the Chamber of Commerce (then called the Board of Trade). Charging an annual $5 fee, the board stipulated members must be directly involved with tourism.

So began our 100-year journey advocating for tourism, trade and the Comox Valley. In this centennial year, we look back at our beginnings, celebrating the highs, looking at the lows and finding out about the in-betweens.

The Roaring Twenties – Valley-Style

Even with their mandate to expand tourism, the new Board quickly became involved in other matters, big and small, about town.

While discussions with the CPR to extend the railway past Courtenay and support for the creation of parks topped the agenda, the Board made sure to champion members’ causes.

Imagine the insults flying at the protest about higher express rates being charged – shipping 50 pounds of butter to Ladysmith had risen from 45 cents to 70 cents! Improving roads and boat, rail and mail service perennially took precedent, but they still found time to coordinate community dances, where fun was had by all – after all, prohibition ended in 1920!

It was well-known that “Courtenay’s future is on the river,” so the Board got involved in organizing dredging and straightening the channel to ease navigation. By 1929, they began pushing for an airport, and ferries between Comox and Powell River, and Buckley Bay and Denman Island.

The Dirty Thirties – A Time Of Expansion, Challenges

While little mention of the 1929 market crash made the local paper, some effects of the Depression started seeping in. The 1930 Klondike Dance wasn’t held, straining cash flow as the Board relied on that $250 profit.

Depression or not, the start of the decade saw plenty of activity, as well as cooperation with the Cumberland and Campbell River Boards. The Comox Airport was approved, and a daily Comox-Powell River ferry began running in 1931.

However, as the decade progressed, the world’s financial crisis and political tensions impacted with rising gas prices and employment issues. But by 1939, the Courtenay-Comox Board had been in existence for 20 years and showed no sign of stopping. It had established itself as a permanent and significant part of the community, then and into the future.

To see other articles celebrating our past, including the full version of this one, visit our website at


Dianne Hawkins, CEO of the Comox Valley Chamber: Building Good Business

For more information on the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, visit: or call 250-334-3234.