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Tofino Area History

First Nations

The Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples have called the Long Beach area home for thousands of years, respecting the land and finding spiritual strength and renewal in its quiet forests and pounding surf. Today, many renowned First Nations artists live and work here, continuing age old traditions and producing outstanding artwork that is in demand the world over.

Settlement

Captain Cook was the first European to explore the area in 1778. The first outpost built by the British was Fort Defiance, in 1791, on Meares Island. However, it was for the famed Spanish hydrographer, Don Vincent Tofino, that Tofino was given its name in 1792. Early settlers fished for salmon, harvested trees, breathed the crisp pacific air and built a strong community here on the western edge of North America.

The Village of Tofino was accessible only by boat until the early 1960’s, when it became possible to drive from Port Alberni.

Tofino has long been a haven for those who love the outdoors – surfers, artists, fishermen, and naturalists. Their influence has helped make the town what it is today – an eclectic mix of small shops and galleries, cafes and restaurants.