Bowen Island
BC Canada

Bowen Island - Accommodations - Activities - Attractions - Shopping - Real Estate

Welcome to Bowen Island

bowen-islandBowen Island (population: 2,957) is an enchanting retreat located 20 minutes by ferry from West Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay. Known as a recreational retreat for Vancouver residents, the island is home to several wonderful B&Bs. Almost half the island is treed, with 2,072 ha (5,120 ac) of Cedar, Hemlock, Douglas Fir and Arbutus. The island is a popular destination for vacationers as well as kayakers and boaters seeking sheltered bays and safe anchorage.

Also many artists call Bowen home, their work displayed and sold in galleries and markets on the island. Bowen Island offers some of the best sailing and kayaking on BC's south soast. Situated at the mouth of Howe Sound, Bowen Island is the nearest large island to Vancouver. No overnight camping or trailer parks are allowed anywhere on the island.

A power boat can go around Bowen Island in 3 hours and given the right winds and tides, a sailboat can make the round trip in 5 hours. Recreational paddlers usually can make the trip in 6 or 7 hours. Boaters can choose from two marinas for short and long-term moorage. Space is at a premium on weekends. Boaters can also stay at Columbine Bay and Smugglers Cove on the northeast corner, at the small public float at Galbraith Bay, at Bowen Bay and Tunstall Bay. Kayak, swim, scuba dive or beachcomb.

The village of Snug Cove is in the main harbour. Browse the shops and galleries or have lunch at a cozy cafe. Head for the 2343-hectare (600 acre) Crippen Regional Park for an easy hike around Killarney Lake or take the Killarney Lake loop through marshland and flooded forest rich with birdlife.

A brief History:

early-settlersThe first mention of Bowen Island was by Spanish explorer Narvaez who was on a 22 day exploration of the Strait of Georgia in July of 1791. Narvaez sailed across the entrance of Howe Sound only charting the outlines of Passage Island, the Pasley Island Group and Bowen Island. Bowen Island was originally inhabited by the Squamish Indians who used it as their hunting and fishing grounds. Early settlers say the Indians had some shake dwellings and a smoke house in Snug Cove. Bowen was also apparently a neutral meeting ground for the Squamish and other Indians, as well as a stopping place on the way up or down the coast.

The first preemption of land by a white settler was in 1874 by William Eaton, who claimed 160 acres south of Killarney Lake. As early as the 1880’s there were already tourists coming to camp at the tent camps, rent boats and ride the merry-go-round at Picnic Grounds. The tent camps were sites on Snug Point. It was the colourful Captain Jack Cates who first opened up Bowen Island as a resort for the day excursionist. He started by purchasing the 320 acre Mannion estate on Bowen’s Deep Bay in 1900. After some twenty years, Cates sold his thriving resort and company to the long established Union Steamship Company. They started making runs with “Lady Alexandra”, “Lady Cecilia” and “Lady Cynthia”. The new owners made immediate changes to the Terminal Resort. They built a store, one hundred and fifty summer cottages were either renovated or newly built, new trails were built and six well equipped picnic grounds were established to handle the growing business. In 1921 the Sannie Transportation Company (a subsidiary of the Union Steamship Company) began operating three steam launches between Horseshoe Bay and Bowen. 1984 saw the dedication of Crippen Regional Park, a 600 acre day use park.

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