Southern Gulf Island Vancouver Island area information

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Introduction to the Southern Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island area.
From Meadow Valley properties - real estate on beautiful Thetis Island.

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Meadow Valley properties is a high quality 206 Acre planned bare land strata real estate development on tranquil Thetis Island,
visit our "properties" page for more information on our acreages / lots for sale.

For specific details on Thetis Island see our "Thetis" page.

This page is intended to provide a tourist tourism and travel information. and general orientation, to the region. In addition to the information on our "Thetis" page, there are many fine guides (print and on line) to specific parts of the area and to specific recreation, cultural and economic activities, visit our "Links" page for links to further information. Includes real estate links. ( this link will open the "Links" page in a new window so you can keep it for reference while reading this page). There are also links to sites with more detailed information on each major Gulf Island.

For an introduction to outdoor recreation opportunities, with links, in the southern gulf islands Vancouver Island area see our "outdoor recreation" page.
For details on our acreages - lots for sale and general information please start at our "Home" page.

Navigation Index for Southern Gulf Islands and area page

Southern Gulf and San Juan Islands

The Gulf Islands, situated off the east coast of southern Vancouver Island (see map, below), are normally divided into northern and southern sections, the southern group consists of 11 major islands ( North to South: Gabriola, Valdes, Thetis, Kuper, Galiano, Saltspring (Salt Spring), Prevost, Mayne, North and South Pender and Saturna) plus several smaller islands. The southern Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands to the south are part of the same archipeligo, despite the national boundary. The saanich peninsula also shares some of the same characteristics, although heavily modified by agriculture and urban development.

The San Juan Islandsare located just to the south of the southern Gulf Islands in the northern reaches of Puget Sound. There are five main islands in the group; San Juan Island which is the Saltspring of the San Juans and has an area of 55.3 square miles and population of 7000, Lopez with an area of 29.5 square miles and population of 2100, Orcas with an area of 56.9 square miles and population of 4500 and Shaw Island which is most similar to Thetis and has no amenities but is served by ferry. Shaw has an area of 7.7 square miles. Population is 231. As with the Gulf Islands there are numerous small islands, the largest being Blakely Island.

The Gulf and San Juan islands have been seasonally occupied by central coast Salish tribes from approximately 5000 years ago through the eighteenth century. According to tradition, the Songhees, Saanich, Lummi, and Samish all had winter villages in the southern Gulf and San Juan islands, as well as many permanent structures for other seasons.

The Haida and other tribes raided these tribes for slaves on a regular basis, which may account for Thetis Island having no native population at the time Europeans first arrived.

The seasonal and local availability of fishery resources had a great impact on population movements and settlement patterns of local Indian tribes. During summer months, populations commonly disbanded and dispersed to locations where resources were seasonally available. Small units of people left their winter villages and migrated to optimal fishing and plant gathering areas, where they resided in temporary lodges. It is thought that Native Americans encouraged native grasslands and oak woodlands through the use of fire, in addition to natural fires and wildlife pressure.

Vancouver Island was first surveyed by Captain Cook, but there is some contention that Francis Drake actually explored the British Columbia coast in 1579 and sailed through the Straight of Georgia.

The main settlement of the islands by Europeans began in the 1870's. Early settlers also included escaped slaves from the US.

All the islands are known for their peaceful, rural character, despite their proximity to the major urban centres on Vancouver Island as well as the cities of Vancouver, Tacoma and Seattle. These centres, located within a radius of 100 miles, have a combined population of over four million.

The Gulf Islands are administered by various regional districts (Cowichan Valley Regional District-CVRD for Thetis Island), and also fall under the Islands Trust, which is intended to preserve and protect the islands. The San Juans fall under the administration of San Juan County. See our "Links" page for links. See our "Thetis" page for more details on governance on Thetis and on the Islands Trust.

Southern Gulf Islands

There are several good online guides to the Gulf and San Juan Islands, see our "Links" page for details. Here is an outline of the characteristics of the main southern gulf islands. Population estimates are of full time residents.

Thetis Island

The smallest, least populated of the islands served by a vehicle ferry. See our "Thetis" page for details.

Gabriola Island

Just east of Nanaimo, Gabriola is about 14 km long and 4 km wide. With a Population of about 3000, with many commuters, it is quite developed. Has three provincial waterfront parks and is well known for its interesting shoreline sandstone formations..

Saltspring Island

saltspring island is the largest and most developed of the Gulf Islands. This leads to the lifestyle being more like that on the lower mainland or the saanich peninsula than on an island like Thetis. Salt spring island is about 27 km long and 13 km wide, about 180 sq km. With a Population of 11,000. The main town of Ganges is located centrally and is quite developed, with all services and an interesting Saturday market. The south end of the island includes the agricultural valley of Fulford, the village of Fulford Harbor and the hilly/mountainous Mt Tuam/Musgrave area in the southwest, which is sparsely developed. The north end of the island is fairly densely developed and has the village of Fernwood. Named after the salt springs found on the northern part of the island.

Galiano Island

Galiano is long and thin, about 25 km long and mostly about 2 km wide (with a larger landmass at the southern end), about 57 sq km. With a Population of about 1,000. Off the northern end is Porlier Pass (visible from Thetis) and Valdes Island, a large but relatively uninhabited island not served by ferry and mainly owned by a forestry company. Named after Dionisio Galiano the commander of a Spanish schooner, exploring the area in 1792.

Mayne Island

Separated from Galiano by Active Pass (where the Tswassen - Swartz Bay ferries go between the islands) Mayne is about 7 km long by about 4 km wide, about 21 sq km. With a Population of 900. Mayne was settled early, with the earliest homesteaders registering land claims in the Miners Bay area in 1859.

Saturna Island

Saturna is the southwesternmost of the Gulf Islands. About 8 km long by 4 km wide, 31 sq km. With a Population of 350. It consists of two lines of hills trending east west with a valley between, somewhat like a larger version of Thetis. Saturna also shares with Thetis many of the relatively undiscovered tranquil rural attributes that we value, however, getting there by ferry can take a few hours. Notable for the recently developed Saturna Island vineyards and the annual Canada day lamb barbecue. Named after a Spanish schooner, the Saturnina.

North and South Pender Islands

As with Thetis and Kuper, a dredged channel separates these islands. Unlike Thetis and Kuper, they are joined by a bridge. The area of the two islands combined is about 34 sqkm. With a Population of about 2,000. The northern island is quite densely developed.

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Maps and images of the southern Gulf Islands and area

Map of Vancouver Island area for orientation See our 'Detail maps" page for a better image and credits. (Please scroll down and read on if this map hasn't loaded yet).
Orientation map of southern gulf islands, vancouver island, vancouver, victoria, seattle and area

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Map of southern Gulf Islands, San Juans, Southern Vancouver Island and area, showing location of Thetis Island. See our 'Detail maps" page for a better image of this map. (Please scroll down and read on if this map hasn't loaded yet).
sothern gulf islands vancouver island san juan islands and vancouver island sattelite image map

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Vancouver Island and area

The largest of North America's west coast islands stretches from southeast to northwest along the western coast of British Columbia. It is almost 500 km from north to south, about 100 km from east to west, approximately 3.35 million hectares in size, representing 3.5% of the land area of British Columbia. The population on Vancouver Island in 1997 was 702,000, representing about 18% of the total BC population. The majority of its residents are located along the south-eastern coast, with over half concentrated in the urban centres of Victoria, Nanaimo, and Campbell River. The economy of Vancouver Island reflects its geographic and ecological diversity. See our "Links" page for more information.

Vancouver Island is a world leader in ecotourism, adventure tourism and cultural tourism. Vancouver Island’s natural and cultural resources are the key to the tourism industry. The Island’s east and west coasts provide contrasting opportunities – wild storms primeval rain forests and remoteness on the west coast- open to the Pacific Ocean, with protected waters and the amenities of larger urban centres on the sheltered eastern side. Inland, stands of old-growth forests attract nature-lovers from around the world, with rugged mountains and cave-riddled karst topographies each offering unique attractions. Tourism and recreational opportunities include saltwater and freshwater fishing, marine cruising and sailing, resorts and backcountry lodges, kayak touring, whitewater kayaking, windsurfing and surfing, camping, natural history and scenic/wildlife viewing, hiking, bicycling, climbing, beach combing, scuba diving, caving, and cultural tours to wineries, farms, museums, galleries and other attractions. See our "Recreation" page for more information and links

These resources also make the region a great place to live.

Local towns and cities

Please see our "Links" page for more information on these towns and the area.


The Thetis island ferry terminal is located in Chemainus.

Well known for it's murals, this freindly and tidy small town offers banks, shopping, hospital, library, seniors drop in center, various churches, schools, legion and a theatre. Population 3,900.


About 10 mins by road from the Thetis ferry.

Named after the English victory during the Boer war by its founder Coal baron James Dunsmuir when surveying for the new town in 1899. It is situated directly on the 49th parallel.

Ladysmith offers shopping and banking services in one mall and an attractive restored main street that has won national awards. Population (area) about 6,800.


About 15 mins by road from the Thetis ferry.

Duncan is the Cowichan Valley's largest community, town population about 4,700 area population about 8,000, and offers a wide range of shopping, cultural (including a large library, community center and theatre- which attracts fairly large acts and has good sports facilities, and a cinema), administrative (including the CVRD- Cowichan Valley Regional District offices) and other services.


About 35 mins by road from the Thetis ferry.

The first white settlers adapted a Coast Salish word to name Nanaimo. The Coast Salish people called themselves "Sneneymexw", which means "great and mighty people". With a fast-growing population of about 72,000 Nanaimo is Vancouver Island's second biggest city. It is noteworthy as a hub for central Vancouver Island, with more area of shopping mall per capita than any other North American city. Recently the city has greatly improved its waterfront with the 3 km Harbourfront Walkway and the Swyalana Lagoon, an artificial tidal lagoon built on a renovated stretch of the downtown harbor in Maffeo Sutton Park.


About 55 mins by road from the Thetis ferry.

Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia. Condé Nast Traveler recently voted it one of the world's top ten cities to visit. With a population of around 330,000 it has a compact, colonial-style downtown and is a pleasantly sophisticated place where you can see the mountains and ocean from the main downtown street. At the same time it offers good cultural variety and provides a full range of shopping and services.


About 15 mins from Thetis by air, about 4 hours by road and ferry.

Famed as the city where you can swim and ski on the same day only a few miles apart, Vancouver lies cradled between the ocean and snowcapped mountains. It's downtown district occupies a narrow peninsula bounded by Burrard Inlet to the north, English Bay to the west and False Creek to the south, with greater Vancouver south to the Fraser River. Beyond the comfortable suburbs of Nrth Vancouver on the north shore of Burrard Inlet, the Coast Mountains rise in steep, forested slopes to form a dramatic counterpoint to the downtown skyline and the most stunning of the city's many outdoor playgrounds.

With 1.8 million residents the city offers all the business, shopping and cultural services you could require.


Seattle is one of America's most likeable and vibrant cities, commercial and cultural star of the Pacific Northwest. Surrounded by water, densely packed with scenic hills and tree-lined streets, and snow-capped mountains visible in almost every direction, it's a rare urban environment, in which outdoor-style living has not been sacrificed for cosmopolitan culture. Its central core, narrowly saved from the wrecking ball by popular outcry, has been converted to colorful historic districts that also happen to hold the best in the city's arts, shopping and nightlife.

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Geology and landforms

Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island's physical features are characterized as coastal plains in the east, long fjords on the western coast, and a chain of glaciated mountains running along its northwest-southeast axis. Numerous large rivers flow to the coast through broad glacial valleys and terminate in extensive deltas and estuary complexes. Many of the Island’s smaller streams are contained in steep and narrow valleys, reflecting rugged topography, particularly on the western side of the Island. The cities and farmland are concentrated on the southeast coastal plain.

The southeast part of the Island is dominated by two geographic regions: the Nanaimo Lowlands along the coastline and the Vancouver Island Range inland. The various islands and peninsulas along the coastline also contribute to the varied geographic forms of the area.

The Gulf Island-San Juan island archipeligo

The southern gulf islands lie within the Nanaimo Lowland physiographic region. Topography of the lowland exhibits moderate relief up to 600 m and is primarily controlled by northwesterly trending bedrock structures.

Bedrock geology also dominates the San Juan's landscape. Elevations range from sea level to 745m at the summit of Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island.

Prior to glaciation, this region of the coastline was augmented by small micro-continents traveling eastward on the Juan de Fuca plate. As these landmasses impacted the main north American continent, they were squeezed onto the coastline. The resulting structural geology is a complex combination of overlapping thrust faults along tectonic lenses and plates.

Repeated glaciations during the last ice age shaped the bedrock and developed the rugged landscape of the islands. The region was scoured by a blanket of ice as much as a mile thick which carved out marine channels, creating the scenic beauty for which the southern Gulf islands and San Juan islands are renowned.

As the glaciers advanced from north to south they created numerous bays and waterways. Higher elevations of bedrock were carved, scraped, and rounded.

Deglaciation was progressive and relatively rapid with the area becoming free of ice about 12,000 years ago. When the glaciers began melting the resulting debris was left behind, blanketing low-lying areas with unconsolidated glacial deposits of clay, silt, sand, gravel, and boulders. In the Gulf islands and San Juans, glacial and interglacial deposits are relatively thin (less than 18 m in thickness).

During deglaciation, sea level reached a maximum of 75 m above present levels near Victoria and 150 m near Courtenay. Following deglaciation, isostatic uplift and eustatic changes caused a relative lowering of sea level to its present position. Fossil beaches are to be found on the islands in many places.

The bedrock in the region is deeply fractured, with deep faulting having occurred during the differential uplift of Vancouver Island and the simultaneous depression of the Georgia Basin. Later faulting and cracking during isostatic rebound following glacial unloading and stress relief add to the fracturing of the bedrock. Rock porosity is generally low, so secondary porosity from these fractures and bedding planes form the most important aquifers in the area.

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Vegetation, ecosystems and conservation

Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island has been classified by ecologists into five separate ecosections that represent its varying physical features and climatic conditions. Eleven of British Columbia's biogeoclimatic subzone variants are found on the Island. See map on our "Detail maps" page.

Forests cover about 91% of the Island. Just under half of this cover is original old growth forest. Second growth forests are concentrated in the easily accessible southeastern and other low elevation areas of the Island, while old growth forests are mainly in the higher elevations and the more remote western and northern parts of the Island. About 4% of the forest is of the Douglas fir type common on the Gulf Islands, the majority is Coastal Western Hemlock type.

The island archipeligo

Many first coming here see "ocean, trees and rocks", but the longer you live here the more you come to appreciate the depth and complexitiy of this diverse bioregion.

We all have heard of efforts to "save the trees" but many are seemingly unaware of the importance of Uderstorey in forests and of the fragile herbaceous and sparsley vegetated dry ecosystems that are found on the islands. Similarly, while it is easy for people to identify with whales, they should not overlook the ecologically important biodiverse and productive intertidal zones of the many inlets and shallow bays of the islands. An increased awareness of the whole ecosystem is key to responsible land use in the islands.

The dominant ecosystem of the southern gulf islands is Douglas Fir-Balsam-Red Cedar.
Since logging at the beginning of the 20th century the island's forest mainly consist of medium and older second growth, either mainly coniferous, or, as in the case of Thetis, the more biodiverse mixture with deciduous trees.

These forests, as found in Meadow Valley are ecologically diverse, with, for example, as many as fifteen tree species. The most significant areas of older second growth forest at Meadow Valley are kept covenanted within common property.

Terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems are open wildflower meadows and grassy hilltops, usually interspersed with moss covered rock outcrops. These are one of the most special feature of the islands and are usually associated with the Garry Oak- Arbutus- Douglas Fir woodland community. They are host to a variety of highly specialized micro-habitats including hummocks, hollows and seasonal pools, that meet the requirements of many different plant and animal species. Some of these species, such as Bremner's Silverspot Fritillary or Edith's Checkerspot butterfly, are rare and are only known to occur in these ecosystems. These ecosystems are very easily damaged and repair very slowly, they are also open, when damaged, to incursion by aggressive non native species such as Scotch Broom.

At Meadow Valley these areas are protected by careful siting of houses and by covenant areas on private lots and common property.

The islands have many small wetlands that are an important part of their ecosystem. These can often be negatively impacted by development.

At Meadow Valley Properties we have kept the wetlands in the common property areas and also have expanded and enhanced Apple Marsh with open water areas in the Meadow Valley lakes. The excavated lake was not constructed in a wetland but rather extended downstream from the existing marsh. These lakes and shallow water areas will increase the variety of habitats available to plants and animals, and thus increase biodiversity.

During the earlier part of the century the islands had many cleared areas used as farms and market gardens. Many farms reverted to forest after the Great Depression of the 1930's and the Second World War. Some still continue, mainly as pastureland which contributes to the overall diversity of ecosystem and viewscape.

Complexity of wildlife habitat is in direct correlation to the complexity of vegetative cover. Complex and varied vegetative land covers support a wide variety of native species of animals, insects, and birds. Simple systems of land cover support only a narrow variety of animals, insects, and birds, many of which are introduced to the area.

Marginal, or "boundary", ecosystems where two complex vegetation communities or ecotypes meet are the most productive and diverse, which is why the islands with their many intersecting communities and landforms are particularly diverse.

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The ocean and marine habitat

Located at a juncture of the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the Straits of Georgia, the archipelago of the San Juans and southern Gulf Islands forms a complex tidal region where many different landforms offer feeding, spawning, and resting areas for diverse resident and migrating marine life. The area supports a vast number of baitfish, salmon, marine birds, and marine mammals, including porpoise and several species of whales. Over 100 Orca whale live in the archipelago. The Strait of Georgia is a deep, productive, inland sea that supports a significant fishery. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a deep, glacially scoured trough, where cold, nutrient-rich ocean water travels at depth towards the Strait of Georgia, while surface freshwater plumes flow out to sea. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is also an important transportation and migratory corridor. The extensive fisheries along the west coast of Vancouver Island are driven by one of the largest upwelling systems in the Pacific.

The coastal zone contains a diverse array of marine habitats, which range from the nutrient-rich inlets and rocky shores of the west coast, to the extensive beaches of the Strait of Georgia. The northern and southern ends of the Island are highly variable environments where the inshore and offshore marine waters meet. This variability is responsible for the diverse biological communities in these boundary areas.

Rocky shores are subject to strong wave action during storms and many animals and seaweeds thrive in this turbulent intertidal zone. Varying rock formations provide barriers that create protected ledges, crevices and tide pools offering a rocky intertidal zone where an abundance of marine organisms thrives. These rock pools are a great window onto the life of the shore.

Kelp reefs along these shores are highly productive and the strong tidal currents provide nutrient rich waters that support many marine organisms and feeding areas for birds.

Offshore islets and rocks are used by large numbers of harbor seals and a many seabirds breed and roost here.

Sandy, gravelly beaches of the area, with their breaking waves and shifting sands, do not offer extensive intertidal habitat, but the associated accretion shoreforms and marshes provide abundant seabird nesting and feeding areas. These beaches also provide extremely valuable offshore marine habitat, including eelgrass beds, where smelt and sand lance breed, providing prey for larger fish, such as salmon, and birds.

Protected bays provide a rich intertidal zone where fresh (from seasonal streams and discharge seepage of groundwater) and marine waters mix. The character of the substrate in bays ranges from fine sand to mud and hard-packed clay, with gravel and rocks scattered about. This encourages diverse fauna and flora in the same way that variations in boundary ecosystems do on land. The sandy substrate provides shallow pools at low tide which may have extensive colonies of eelgrass. Eelgrass supports a wealth of marine organisms, including important spawning ground for baitfish, such as herring. Mud and muddy sand support large populations of astonishing diversity, from the microscopic level up to the shellfish and crustaceans so popular for commercial and recreational harvesting. These bays also provide a fascinating place to observe and study marine life.

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Weather and water


The islands have a "cool mediterranean" type of climate, characterized by mild temperatures and a dry spring and summer. Precipitation falls primarily as rainfall during the period September to May, snowfall is infrequent and snow seldom lingers more than a few days. Mean total annual precipitation ranges from 811 mm at Victoria to 1506 mm at Courtenay with the southern Gulf Islands being in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island and the Olympic peninsula and thus trending toward the low end of the precipitation range. Average annual rainfall on Thetis, from local records, is 850 mm (33 inches).

The Gulf Islands benefit from the rain shadow affect also in the area of sunshine, with more than 2000 hours of sunshine annually.

Winter temperatures are usually mild, except when cold, arctic air funnels (outflow winds) down the coastal inlets from the interior and lowers temperatures.

The closest WMO station that represents the southern Gulf Islands climate best is Victoria International Airport (WMO # 7179900). The images below give an overview of monthly means over a period of 50 years and also examples of average and extreme years. If the images haven't loaded, please scroll down and read on while they load.

Monthly mean temperature at Victoria Airport
monthly mean temperature victoria airport british columbia canada
Example of an average year
monthly mean temperature victoria airport british columbia canada average year
Coldest year on record, extreme outflow.
monthly mean temperature victoria airport british columbia canada extreme year
Mean monthly precipitation at Victoria Airport.
monthly mean precipitation victoria airport british columbia canada
Example of an average year
monthly mean precipitation victoria airport british columbia canada average year
Wettest year on record
monthly mean precipitation victoria airport british columbia canada wettest year


The islands have small seasonal streams and freshwater lakes, some natural and some man made. Runoff occurs chiefly from December through March when soils are more saturated and most rainfall occurs. Runoff estimates developed in Washington State and British Columbia using runoff modeling programs indicate that 28 percent of average annual precipitation is not captured and becomes runoff. This amount can vary from 11 percent to 45 percent depending on the impact of evapotranspiration (evaporation and use of water by plants) combined with variations in rainfall. The Thetis Water Allocation plan recommends yield for surface storage to be in the order of 2.4 daM3 per Ha per annum for an average 100 Ha catchment, or 24% of an 800mm precipitation year.

Most domestic water is extracted from bedrock groundwater stored in the above mentioned ("Geology") fractures. The lack of thick alluvial deposits means that there are relatively few shallow wells, and many of these exploit water from springs arising from bedrock aquifers. Research suggests that there is significant hydraulic continuity within the fractured flow systems regionally and thus that recharge occurs over a wide area. Generally groundwater recharge appears to occur in upland areas, with discharge in lower and coastal areas which have been the most attractive for residential use.

Research has demonstrated that aquifer capacity is more of a controlling factor than recharge in most cases, and certainly in the case of Thetis Island. Generally, groundwater flows radially outward from the centers of the islands toward the shorelines. The critical task in groundwater conservation is to reduce impact through control of useage in discharge areas.

In these dry areas it is important to conserve groundwater and to enhance surface water reserves, which is part of the reason why we have built the Meadow Valley lakes and are providing a secondary water system for outdoor uses to the properties. It also points to the value of good water supply on a lot, which we can provide due to the water system (which provides water for irrigation etc) and the fact that we have had our wells tested and modelled for production by a hydrogeologist.

Vancouver Island

vancouver island offers extreme weather contrasts. The Island’s climate is maritime, with warm, dry summers and wet, mild winters. The average annual temperatures range from 3°C to 14°C, with a mean annual temperature of 9°C. Average annual precipitation ranges from greater than 3500 mm on the western side of the Windward Island Mountains to less than 750 mm near Victoria. The majority of precipitation occurs in the fall and winter, which at higher elevations creates a snow pack that feeds the Island's stream network. The Island's west coast is one of the wettest places in North America.

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Parks and the National Park reserve


Vancouver Island and area has many parks, including the large Strathcona park and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Follow links on our "Recreation" and "Links" pages for detailed information and maps. There are also many protected reserve areas, local parks and the excellent BC Forest Service recreation areas.

Strathcona Provincial Park

strathcona park vancouver island british columbia canada, .gifLocated almost in the centre of Vancouver Island, Strathcona is a rugged mountain wilderness comprising more than 250,000 hectares. Designated in 1911 it is the oldest provincial park in British Columbia. Mountain peaks, dominate the park. Lakes and alpine tarns dot a landscape laced with rivers, creeks and streams. Summer in Strathcona is usually pleasantly warm, while winters are fairly mild except for the higher levels where heavy snowfalls and good winter sports opportunities are the norm. From November through March, snowfalls are general on the mountain slopes and alpine plateaus. Snow remains all year on the mountain peaks and may linger into July at higher elevations.

Two areas - Buttle Lake and vicinity, and Forbidden Plateau - have some visitor-oriented developments. The rest of the park is largely undeveloped and appeals primarily to people seeking wilderness surroundings. To see and enjoy much of the scenic splendor requires hiking or backpacking into the alpine regions.

The island's highest point, Golden Hinde (2220m) is here, and it's also a place where there's a good chance of seeing rare indigenous wildlife (the Roosevelt elk, marmot and black-tailed deer are the most notable examples). There are no grizzly bears in the park!

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Hugging the west coast of Vancouver Island is the Pacific Rim National Park. It is broken into three general areas: the northern Long Beach (famous wild wind-blown beaches backed by lush rainforest) area, the Broken Group Islands area off Barkley Sound (about 100 islands in Barkley Sound) and the southern West Coast Trail area which surrounds the 72 kilometer West Coast Trail.

The National Park Reserve in the southern Gulf Islands

In 1993 Parks Canada's goal was to represent and protect examples of Canada's 39 natural regions within a national park system. The Strait of Georgia Lowlands, which includes the southern Gulf Islands, was one of the 14 natural regions that had yet to be represented in a national park.

In 1995 the Governments of Canada and British Columbia jointly established the Pacific Marine Heritage Legacy (" PMHL"). It was contemplated at that time that sufficient private land would be purchased to enable a National Park in the southern Gulf Islands, and equivalent additional lands for Provincial Parks outside of the National Park core area. To date approximately $32 million has been expended ($ 26.5 million from Canada, $5.5 million from BC). BC has further identified 10 existing provincial parks or ecological reserves within the core area (722 hectares of land) for contribution, as well as four large parcels Crown Land (on Saturna and North Pender Islands) and a number of small Crown islets within the area (totaling 404 hectares).

Since that time there has been a process of consultation on the management and planning of the park or reserve, and, recently (June 2000) the production of a final report which recommends "that the governments of B.C. and Canada proceed with dispatch in the creation of the new park, and that the proposed provincial lands be included".

The park core area will mainly affect the southernmost islands, particularly Saturna and North Pender, together with some smaller islands and waterfront areas in those islands.

Marine Parks

Existing marine parks (see map on our "Detail Maps" or "Thetis" page) in the southern Gulf Islands include:
Cabbage Island
Discovery Island
D'Arcy Island
Montague Harbour
Newcastle Island
Pirates Cove
Portland Island
Rum Island
Sandy Island
Sidney Spit
Wallace Island
Winter Cove

The San Juan Islands also have many marine parks, see our "Links" page for details. Marine State Parks are accessible by private or chartered boat only. The island parks are Blind, Clark, Doe, James, Jones, Matia, Patos, Posey, Stuart, Sucia, and Turn. All have a few campsites. There are no docks at Blind, Clark, Patos, Posey or Turn Islands.

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See our "Links" page for links to local and area transportation providers.

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Sources, links and Other stuff.

The information on this page has come from a variety of sources, any information from a web source is recognized by a link, on our "Links" page, to the site where the information was obtained, although we can not guarantee that that was the original source of the information.

If we are missing an important link or area of information please let us know. This is not an exhaustive directory, but we do strive to include good general, introductory, information and links to the best quality sites for each area of interest.

We are happy to offer reciprocal links to quality websites that have content in areas relevant to our site. Please let us know if you are interested in this,

We will always be building on our website, so check back often. If you don't find what you need, or you want more details about something, just e-mail us.

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Site Guide, help and search

Realtors wishing to contact us with respect to our real estate and lots for sale are encouraged to refer to our "Realtor Contact" page.

We will frequently update and enhance our website, so check back often. We are happy to respond promptly to any specific question, just e-mail us.

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Contact us

Please contact us to let us know about area information, dead links or sites that we are missing, e mail

To view our properties or for more information
Email us at or call Ian at 250-246-4774

Meadow Valley Properties, quality planned real estate by Trax Developments Ltd., Box 9-6, Thetis Island, B.C., V0R 2Y0, Canada.

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