Kristian Graaten, the original owner of the Old Country Market longed to have the familiarity of his homeland, so he designed the roof of his market resembling the grassy hillside of Norway. One day he had the creative idea to put goats on his grassy roof, whether this was in jest or in seriousness, it turned out to be a big hit among tourists and residents alike. Unexpectedly, Kristian noticed that many people stopped at his market to take a look (and picture) at this interesting spectacle. It quickly grew to be a popular tourist attraction where visitors can grab a bite to eat and take pictures of the resident goats on the roof.
In addition to the goats, the old fashion country market also sells international groceries and collectable gifts from around the world. The owner has carefully selected trinkets from around the world and imports something new every year. He also handpicks selected refurbished Chinese antique furniture from Asia. This market has a huge selection of exotic groceries, homemade sandwiches, finest cheese and meat from Europe, mouthwatering home baked goods, endless flavors of local homemade ice cream, a one of a kind gift shop, a restaurant and a plant nursery.
If you are hungry, they have an array of sweet and savory snacks and meals. Although this market has been serving its quaint community since 1910, millions of visitors and passers-by have stopped here. The Old Country Market in Coombs is best known for its’ resident goats on the roof of the market. These goats are probably one of the most photographed animals here in BC. In the spring, these adorable creatures are airlifted to roof, where there is a mini stable, rooftop grass and lots of room for them to roam around on. They are curious creatures and will look down at the tourists taking pictures.
The Old Country Market was born out of humble beginnings from a fruit stand. Over the years, through faithful patrons the market has expanded with a hamburger stand next to the fruit stand. Today, this market has grown into an international grocery store. Never underestimate how small beginnings can transform into inspirational ideas and in turn touch the lives of many people who come in contact with it.
2326 Alberni Hwy
Coombs, BC V0R 1M0
As early as the 1920s, the Grove was a popular tourist stop for travelers en route to the west coast of Vancouver Island. Governor Viscount Willingdon allegedly gave this area its name when he visited in 1928. Despite its unique natural beauty and public petitioning to preserve the land, it was not until 1944 when well-known forester, H.R. MacMillan, donated the 136 hectares of land making up Cathedral Grove to the province in an effort to protect the area. Shortly afterwards the area was established as an official provincial park by advocates. It is because of their efforts that visitors are able to enjoy these majestic trees today.
When I stood beneath the towering trees, I began to understand why they called this park “Cathedral Grove.” It was easy for me to feel dwarfed amongst these giants. This unique area is home to some of the tallest Douglas fir trees in Canada, the largest of which is over 25 stories high. Not only that, but many of these trees have been around for more than 800 years. What a gem to have in our own backyard of British Columbia!
Not to worry: this is not a hard-core hikers trail. People of all ages, can enjoy this park’s beauty. There are 10-20 minute loop trails within MacMillan Provincial Park: super easy strolls along wide bark mulch paths winding through some of the biggest trees in Canada.
To be inspired by the grandeur of these old growth trees, take the time to stop over at the Cathedral Grove while visiting the area.
As I walked around, I felt a sense of wonder and serenity. All the worries of the day just vanished into the trees. The sights, the sounds and the smells of the outdoors soothed my senses. There is something inexplicable and magical that draws us humans back to nature,
To sum of this adventure in one word: MAJESTIC.
MacMillan Park (Cathedral Grove) is located on central Vancouver Island, 25 km west of Qualicum Beach and 16 km east of Port Alberni on Hwy #4, which runs right through the park. From Hwy #19 and Hwy #19a take the exit heading west on Hwy #4 toward Port Alberni.