Comox First Nations people called this area Tle-Tla-Tay. It was used to smoke herring and herring roe. William Roy and his family purchased the land from James Dunsmuir in 1890 and established the townsite that they named Royston. In case you think that this is rather arrogant, Roy came from a town in Great Briton with the same name. Roy, with a real estate promoter named Frederick Warren, created village lots and by 1912 thirty settlers had moved in. The Royston Community Club purchased the machine shop (constructed in 1925 at the corner of the Island Highway and Royston Road) in 1952 and turned it into a community hall. The building is now nearly 100 years old.
In the early 1900s, Royston was the major port for the Comox Valley logging industry. Logs were shipped here by rail, boomed in the harbour, then taken to the Fraser Mills on the mainland. A breakwater was built from the sunken hulks of old Canadian warships and freighters to protect the log booms. These hulks can still be seen from the Royston Seaside Trail, a lovely half hour stroll along the shoreline. Oil companies took over the government wharf in 1940. The wharf was transferred to the Comox Valley Regional District in November 2000, was removed, and a viewing platform was built from the timbers.
There are two things especially worth noting about Royston and the area. The first is the Royston Pub that features local musicians that just come down and play for the joy of it every Saturday evening (hopefully we can get back at it after this damn Covid thing is over), a joy they pass on to those of us who like to wine and dine here. They have an excellent assortment of local beers and ales on tap. The atmosphere is special as you can sit on the patio covered with grape vines, enjoy a good meal, listen to the music, buy a second round, and chat with the friendly people around your table. The second feature is the Trent River Trail located just south along the banks above the Trent River. If you are lucky (or perhaps unlucky, depending on your comfort level with bears and cougars), you may encountered a huge black bear that might just take one look at you and then casually wander off into the forest.
The Royston Pub
The old ways and the old days
still come back to life here,
with friendly smiles and small talk
from smiling waiters and waitresses.
We dine on simple but tasty pub treats,
washed down by good home brewed beer,
while we listen to music created my musicians
with long gray beards and checkered flannel shirts.
They create a comfortable feeling of yesterday,
playing favorite songs from the glorious past,
some with a folksy thread,
some with a twangy country flavor.
Smiles and laughter go back and forth
travelling between the singer and the audience
who respectfully stop the chat for a while and listen
to honest lyrics sung by honest singers.
The air is fresh and clean.
Air currents loaded with salty air
waft up from the sea just a few steps away
and settle into our nostalgic hearts.
We delight in the smiles given by those near.
We grasp the hands reaching across the isles.
We share the essentials of who we are,
as a steady hum of happiness invades tired thoughts.
We celebrate a moment in time free of time,
a place to be just ourselves and enjoy our roots
when good beer and a smile was all you really needed.
We commemorate the lost communities of being and doing.