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One of the weirdest places in Canada has got to be Coombs, B.C., a tiny town on Vancouver Island just inland of Qualicum Beach. Apparently Coombs was established around 1910 by the Salvation Army as a home for a small group of impoverished English and Welsh families who were part of the Army’s immigration program and in the early 70s it became a favourite hippy hangout.
These days Coombs is famous for the family of goats that live on the thatched roof of the “Country Market” (a rambling shop that sells gourmet food, colourful, mostly wooden, toys and a few home decorating items) and the overstuffed ice cream cones (for only $3.50) that are sold out of a kiosk around the corner.
Then there’s the tiny merry-go-round and the kid-sized digger that are plugged in to electrical outlets embedded in the pavement. Each one has it’s own meter that takes loonies and its own hand-lettered sign: the sign on the digger says to ask for change at the ice cream store and the sign on the merry-go-round says to ask for change at the fudge shop. Scattered around the edges of the courtyard with no apparent plan are a veggie market, a rubber stamp store, a pottery store, "Stairway to Heaven" (the hemp store) and a bunch of souvenir shops selling Indonesian sarongs.
Or maybe it’s because, after walking around for a bit, you’ll end up laughing out loud.