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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Lewis Park is a 17.39 acre municipally-owned park located immediately to the east of the Courtenay River bridge, across from Simms Millennium Park on the Old Island Highway. The park is naturally bounded by the Courtenay, Puntledge and Tsolum Rivers and features several mature trees, open play fields, trails, tennis courts, skateboard park and four notable buildings.
The significance of Lewis Park lies in its historic, aesthetic, spiritual and social values, particularly for the site’s historic uses, exceptional design, link to the Comox Valley’s First Nations people and its on-going use as a community park.
The historic value of Lewis Park is associated with its link to Courtenay’s early agricultural roots. From 1893 to 1957 the grounds were used for the annual Fall Fair, an important legacy that continues today.
The park is valued for its association with Courtenay’s role in World War Two, when the park served as temporary barracks for the ‘Fisherman’s Reserve’, who were the crews of the Assault Craft which were moored at the Courtenay River Slough. The site was one of only two areas in Canada used for combined operations training and played a key role in the preparation for the defense of the west coast of Vancouver Island and future operations in Europe.
The spiritual value of Lewis Park is exemplified in the park’s two totem poles, which stand prominently at the park entrance, serving to grant peace to those who enter. A series of three totem poles have been erected here, the first placed in 1928, purchased from Chief Joe Wallace of the Greenpoint Rapids reserve. These were replaced in 1956 by two new poles carved by internationally-renowned aboriginal artist Mungo Martin and raised in a traditional ceremony by K’omoks Chief Andy Frank. The third pair of poles were placed in 2002, carved by Calvin Hunt, Mungo Martin’s step-grandson. These totems remain an important link to the area’s First Nations people.
Lewis Park is also valued for its picturesque setting and exceptional design. The park is uniquely configured to facilitate views of the Courtenay, Puntledge and Tsolum Rivers, which border the property. Initially owned by the Lewis family, the site was acquired by the City of Courtenay in 1928. Designed as a recreational park, the site featured open playfields park and a perimeter trail which maximized picturesque views of the Courtenay, Puntledge and Tsolum Rivers. Mature trees, including species of Sitka Spruce, Big-Leaf and Japanese Maples, Cyprus, Cedar and Silver-Leafed Poplar greatly add to the natural beauty of the historic place.
There are two historically significant buildings within the park grounds, including the Lewis Center building situated on the former site of the Comox District’s Agricultural Hall, which was the hub of social activity in Courtenay and area for over half a century. The Courtenay and District Memorial Pool, built in 1949, is an important landmark which serves as a memorial to the military Service Personnel who gave their lives in World War Two.
Actively used for a variety of sporting and leisure activities over a period of 80 years, Lewis Park is a prominent City landmark which reflects the importance of recreation to the social development of the community.
Source: City of Courtenay Planning Department
Key elements which define the heritage character of Lewis Park include its:
- picturesque setting overlooking the Courtenay, Puntledge and Tsolum Rivers
- proximity to Simms Millennium Park
- open spatial qualities
- tree-lined configuration of the trail that extends around portions of the park
- mature specimen trees, including species of Sitka Spruce, Big-Leaf Maple, Japanese Maple, Cyprus, several varieties of Cedar and Silver-Leafed Poplar
- First Nations totem poles
- Memorial pool, Lewis Center, and Tsolum and Salish buildings
- ongoing use as a community park
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
- People and the Environment
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Courtenay Planning Department
Cross-Reference to Collection