Qualicum Beach: Canada’s Most Elderly Community
It is a cool fall day when I first drive down Memorial Avenue in Qualicum Beach, a town of 8,943 people on Vancouver Island’s eastern shore. I’m watching closely for anything on the main street that might corroborate this British Columbia enclave’s claim to fame: it is Canada’s most elderly community.
Then, the quintessential scene materializes before me: a half-dozen seniors pushing their four-wheeled mobility walkers in single file along Second Avenue.
They slip into the rear-view mirror as I head toward the water’s edge along the Strait of Georgia. But it leaves me wondering: could this town, with a whopping median age of 65.9 and a chart-topping 52.1 per cent of its population over 65, provide a glimpse into Canada’s greying future?
My demographic group, the children of the postwar baby boom, is aging. Across Canada, that generational bulge has already raised the proportion of people aged 65 and older from eight per cent in 1956 to 17 per cent today. By 2031, that over-65 crowd will make up almost a quarter of the population. To get a sense of what life may look like in the wake of the demographic tidal wave that’s been dubbed the “silver tsunami,” my wife, Jocelyn, and I visited Qualicum Beach for two weeks.