Stepping ashore Savary Island imparts to you a south sea sensation. It’s crescent shape, warm water and white sandy beaches summon visitors and residents to rest, relax and relish a slower pace.
The island rhythm will surround you as one can meander down the shore and circle the entire island at low tide. Savary’s lush vegetation of fir, cedar, hemlock, maple and arbutus trees are home to the island’s wildlife. Deer, squirrels, otter, mink, and a larger variety of bird life, including bald eagles, inhabit this tropical locale.
Savary Island has a restaurant and two general stores to serve you. A lodge on the island provides overnight accommodation for those who can’t help but stay more than a day.
Savary Island History
The shores of Savary Island were first seen by Captain George Vancouver on June 25th in the year 1792 and named after it after a French Admiral, Daniel Savary. The earliest inhabitants however were the Coast Salish people. Their occupation dates back 2000 years, and one can still see evidence of the years of living on the island. The Salish people would live in the winter on the mainland around the Powell River area, at the site of the present day mill, and canoe to Savary Island in May and June. They would set up summer camps around the island in order to gather the clams that are very plentiful.
There are a number of claming and camping sites that dot Savary, all of them protected by the Heritage Conservation Act.
At Indian Springs for example there is a midden of discarded shells at least 2 meters deep indicating many years of seasonal occupation on the same site.
The islands first permanent resident was John Green, who chose the island as a semi- retirement home. He had been trading up and down the BC coast with the Indians.
In 1886, at the age of 69 Green decided to set up a permanent trading post on the island near Mace Point (once named Green Point).
In 1888 he applied to the British Columbia Government for a 160 acre parcel of land that he bought for 1 dollar an acre. He soon built a One Room Home that he later added on to for his store, later adding shelters for animals and a small log cabin for his customers that might wish to stay the night. He subsequently applied for more land on the island, first a 317 acre parcel then a 316 acre parcel, both bought for 1 dollar an acre. The government approved of the purchase in 1892.
In 1893 he applied for a further parcel of 151 acres that had become available next to his homestead. He however didn’t live to own that property. He was found dead in his store with a friend, both the victims of a deadly robbery. The island was was empty for several years. The native Salish People, confined to their reservations, no longer spent their summers on Savary. The next permanent residents were the Anderson family who Built A Home on the island in 1905.
In 1910 a newspaper reporter from Vancouver came to the island investigating the murder of John Green. After returning to the city he started dreaming of the vacation potential that Savary Island had to offer. He approached Harry Jenkins, who now owned all of Savary and proposed to Sell Off The Island In Lots to wealthy Vancouverites as a summer getaway. A plan was agreed upon and the island was subsequently subdivided into 50′ wide lots, and an advertisement campaign was set out to sell the island as the “Catalina of the North”
By 1913 The Savary Inn was completed allowing more to enjoy the island. It had eight bedrooms above the ground floor public rooms. In one room the first store since John Green’s was operated.
By 1914 the island had about 25 Cabins Along Its Shore Front. Some years went by with more cabins and road building going on. In 1927 the Royal Savary Hotel was started. The hotel was to have 28 double rooms and house up to 50 guests at the height of the summer. All the local men on the island (6 to 8 of them) worked on the hotel from the fall until the spring when some carpenters from Vancouver joined them in order to help finish the hotel in time for the summer tourist season.
The Hotel’s first guest arrived on June 15th 1928.
The island continues to be a summer destination for many, being a perfect getaway from the worries of modern life.