Ports of Call: Port Moody // Photo by Eva Seelye

Ports of Call: Port Moody, British Columbia

Eva Seelye Features Ports of Call

Port Moody, BC

NNestled in the Canadian Cascades at the eastern end of the shallow-sided Burrard Inlet is Port Moody, just 45 minutes from Vancouver, deemed the City of the Arts. While surrounded by nature, Port Moody offers an intriguing mix of commercial, industrial, natural, and residential elements. Seals sunbathe on log booms, high rises are incorporated into the mountain skyline, and an oil refinery sits across from beaches rich with shellfish. Here, development meets wilderness.

Port Moody was once in the running to be British Columbia’s capital when it became the original Pacific terminus of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The first passenger train plowed through the mountains in 1885, loaded with passengers from Montreal who were eager to buy up the profitable land. It was a great investment for a short time until CPR President William Cornelius Van Horne decided Port Moody was insufficient for expansion due to its narrow inlet, and continued the CPR line farther west to Vancouver. A handful of unsuccessful lawsuits from the heartbroken and angry community followed, but throughout the turmoil, the citizens of Port Moody found other ways to keep their economy alive, though not without difficulty. Its population remained stagnant until the early 1900s when the first oil refineries popped up.

Today, Port Moody is home to roughly 34,000 people and is the smallest of the Canadian Tri-Cities, which also includes Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam. It’s seen oil, steel, fur trading, shellfish, lumber, marine trade, and more come through town, but through the hustle and bustle of modern-day life, art, culture, and the environment remain top priorities. Boaters can stay in the largest marina in British Columbia, Reed Point Marina, or cruise up and anchor off Rocky Point State Park in the Designated Anchor Area (DAA) to experience this historic town and surroundings by foot, bike, boat, or all the above.

STAY AWHILE

PORT MOODY HIGHLIGHTS

Port Moody Nature

Nature Please

With 35 percent of its land dedicated to green spaces, Port Moody has a good work/play balance. Rocky Point Park is among Port Moody’s most popular spots. Take advantage of the boat launch, keep your kids entertained at the water-focused playground and indulge in a scoop from Rocky Point Ice Cream before venturing down the popular Shoreline Trail, which will guide you through most of the Port’s nearly 35 miles of park.
Across the inlet at the north end of the Shoreline Trail lies Old Mill State Park, resurrected out of the remnants of a fire-destroyed cedar mill. Orchard Park lies just beyond Old Mill, sandy beach and all. Bert Flinn Park is for the hikers, bikers, and wildlife connoisseurs thanks to its wetlands, but you can’t leave without taking a stroll along the longest recreational trail in the world; the Trans Canada Trail is a system consisting of hundreds of trails stretching coast to coast to coast (that’s right, from east to west to north) and a portion of it cuts through downtown Port Moody. You don’t want to miss it!

Port Moody Art Centre

City of the Arts

“Port Moody, City of the Arts” greets you in blue and green upon entering, complementing the tones of its surroundings. Here, art is not only accessible, but celebrated. Over 50 public art pieces of many mediums are splattered throughout the city limits. From murals and mosaics to street furniture and mobile art, there’s much to experience. Download the Public Art Map at portmoody.ca to guide you through the town’s colorful and creative culture.

Port Moody Arts Centre is a must-see activity for the creative types. It’s a non-profit dedicated to the development of literary, performing, and visual arts in Port Moody and committed to bringing positive art experiences to the community. Feast your eyes on the contemporary gallery showcasing local, national, and international artists, and check out their website to see if you’ll be around for one of their many community and fundraising events. Staying for a while? Take one of their 380 classes for those itching to try their hand in practically any artform imaginable. From ceramics and theater to media and music, art is at your fingertips.

Port Moody  Waterfront

On Water Fun

Land exploration is definitely a hoot, but some of Port Moody’s best kept secrets lie on the watery surface of its coastal fjord, so take advantage of your vessel and/or employ a kayak, stand up paddleboard, or dinghy of your own to discover this adventure-rich area. Don’t have a personal watercraft? Rent one from Rocky Point Kayak in the summer months. Paddle Rocky Point Park’s shallows, keeping an eye out for eagles and other local wildlife before exploring the Belcarra Regional Park’s Admiralty Point. Gaze upon the plentiful sea stars that dot the shore, hop in for a swim, or beach your ride and embark on one of the park’s many hikes. If you’re feeling bold, paddle up to Indian Arm, explore the nearby park islands, and spend the afternoon on Jug Island Beach. Then, circle around to catch the sunset at Barnet Marine Park before returning to Port Moody, but make sure to keep an eye out for residential wildlife along the way; bears, bobcats, cougars, coyotes, deer, duck, geese, raccoons, and skunks are common in these parts!

Parkside Brewery

The Ale Trail

The Ale Trail, or Brewer’s Row, is a full day’s activity all by itself in this hoppin’ town (pun intended). How’d this beer-lovers attraction come to be? Two breweries opened on the same street back in 2014, so why stop there? Today, Murray Street is home to four breweries within three short blocks.

Moody Ales sits farthest to the west and features a well-rounded variety of local ales for you to enjoy. Indulge in a craft brew in the tasting room or take it outside in the summer. Newest on the block and just east of Moody Ales is Parkside Brewery. Enjoy craft brews that celebrate the great Pacific Northwest while playing shuffleboard in the basement; try a flight in the tasting room or on the patio on a sunny day. Next up is the OG (original) Port Moody brewer, a legend if you will, and a decorated one at that. The award-winning Yellow Dog Brewing won BC Beer of the Year for its “Shake a Paw Smoked Porter” in 2014 and silvers in the Canadian Brewery Awards for its “Sit and Stay Belgian ISA” and its “Go Fetch West Coast Happy Saison.” Farthest east and closest to Rocky Point State Park is Twin Sails Brewing, named after its twin founders.

Train exhibit

Brinnon and Dosewallips

No trip to Port Moody is complete without a visit to the Port Moody Station Museum. The building itself is a historic artifact, built in 1908 to be the second CPR station in the area, and today it houses artifacts and photographs dating back to the town’s beginnings. Walk inside to discover a telegraph office with original CPR artifacts. The former station mailroom now exhibits Port Moody’s early history. Stroll through time as you discover relics from First Nations, evidence of early fur traders, and discover how the CPR affected Port Moody’s livelihood. Out back, discover the hardships faced by WWI soldiers fighting from the depth of the trenches as you navigate an exact trench replica complete with sandbag walls and dirt-ridden wooden shelters. Out front you can tour railcars from the golden age of the Canadian Pacific. The Station Museum is well loved by the community and is certainly worth a visit to get your local history fix!

Lake Sasamat

Sasamat and Bluntzen Lake

From Bedwell Bay at the edge of Port Moody’s city limits, hikers can climb through second-generation Douglas Fir and Western Cedar trees on a well-maintained trail to the popular alpine lake known as Sasamat. Its White Pine Beach to the north is a popular city escape in the warmer months for swimming, BBQ, and picnics, or venture south to the floating bridge to cast a line. If you have a bike handy, peddle up to Bluntzen Lake to experience a network of walkable and bikeable trails that circumnavigate the lake, guiding you through stunning forests and across a suspension bridge with scenic views every peddle or step of the way.

PORT MOODY, BRITISH COLUMBIA

GASTRONOMY

Burger & Fries

Though small, Port Moody offers an impressive selection of cuisine from all over the world. From tacos to sushi and steak to pad thai, no craving will go unsatisfied. The Boathouse Restaurant sits just feet from Port Moody’s boat launch and dock, teasing those who arrive by boat with the delectable smell of surf and turf. Grab a seat in this dining establishment for a view of the bay through massive windows; a fireplace can be found in the heated porch. I chowed down on the Grilled Wild Sockeye Salmon Burger and fries ($18.99 CAD), quenching my thirst with an ice-cold local brew. The Ahi Tuna ($26.99 CAD), West Coast Benny Trio ($22.99 CAD), and Grilled CAB Sirloin ($27.99 CAD) also caught my eye off the lunch menu.

For solid fish and chips, stop by Pajo’s Restaurant in the park, then pick up a cup or cone of handmade small batch ice cream made with local ingredients next door at Rocky Point Ice Cream. The highly rated fine dining establishment, Saint St. Grill, is a possibility for those wanting a romantic night out, or for a casual eating experience with a little bit of flair, pick up a pair of scissors at Spacca Napoli Pizzeria and cut into your own woodfired pizza. If you’re looking to extend the evening, walk the Shoreline Trail to the east side of Port Moody for a late-night beverage at Browns Socialhouse Newport and live music at St. James Well Pub.

Read our full Port Moody Guide on Issuu

Eva Seelye

Written by

Raised in the Marshall Islands but with Washington as her second home, Eva Seelye is an independent writer and former assistant editor at Northwest Yachting. Her on-water enthusiasm surfaces in every aspect of her life. Read up on her adventures at wanderinraw.com

One Comment

  1. Great article and a great place to boat!!

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