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Texada Island's History

Texada’s colorful history abounds with whalers, prospectors and miners. Texada Island was first discovered and named by Europeans in 1791 by Spanish explorers. It was soon used as a base by the whaling industry. In 1876 a whaler named Harry Tim discovered iron ore which precipitated a boom of mineral discovery on Texada Island.

In 1886 the first iron mine was opened, in 1890 copper was found and in 1898 copper and gold were mined at Marble bay. The population quickly boomed with two main communities of Van Anda and Gilles Bay. By 1878 the residents of Van Anda prided themselves having the only opera house north of San Francisco. There were also three Hotels With Saloon’s, a hospital and several Stores And Businesses.

Powell River at the time was the province of trappers and early loggers. Powell River’s residents would row an hour or more across Malaspina strait to Van Anda, for supplies, or to catch the Union steamship to Vancouver.

In 1910 the first of three serious fires completely destroyed the major buildings of Van Anda in only 40 minutes. The optimism of the boom town led to rebuilding larger, more imposing structures. Fire Destroyed These Again In 1912. The Third Fire Struck In 1917 Leaving Only Al Deighton’s Store which was saved by a bucket brigade.

Later on, during prohibition, the largest moonshining still north of San Francisco flourished near Pocahontas Bay, on the east cost of the island. The illegal booze quenched thirst of a kind in the United States.

Sandcastle Weekend Texada Island

The festivities kick off on a Friday night at Shelter Point Park with the colorful moonbag ceremony. Smoke from lit candles placed in moonbags on the outgoing tide carry wishes up to the moon. Fireworks follow this popular activity. Other activities for the weekend include live entertainment, a lip-sync contest, slow-pitch ball games, a bike race, a beer garden, bingo, a barbecue, a pancake breakfast, a dance, a pigroast, games for the children and more. All fun culminates on Sunday with the Sandcastle competition, a display of architectural brilliance. There are three categories of adult, family and children.

Texada Island

Texada Island captures you and hugs you like a friend. From Crescent Bay to Shelter Point it’s beauty never ends Like Spanish Gold, a treasure, a jewel in the sea Texada will always shine it’s harbor lights for me” Within the chorus of a song, this songwriter penned his Texada experience.

Perhaps the artist within you will emerge to express your own island experiences as you browse through Texada’s shops and galleries, hike the trails or camp beside the sea. The friendly islanders are willing to point you in the right direction. If you lend an ear, they may even relate one of their own island tales for you.

Texada Island, “Jewel in the sea”, is not to be missed as one explores the Sunshine Coast.

About Texada Island

Texada Island lies in the Strait of Georgia, with its northern most point near Powell River. The island is about 30 miles long and 5 miles wide. The year round population is approximately 1200 people. There are two major communities, Gillies Bay and Van Anda. BC Ferry Corporation provides ferry service from Powell River on a Daily Schedule. In 1998 trial runs were introduced to provide direct service to Comox on Vancouver Island.

Combining splendid isolation, historical landmarks and varied recreational activities, Texada Island transport visitors to a timeless place prefect for get-away vacations.

Accommodation options on Texada range from hotels, bed and breakfasts, campsites at Shelter Point (with hot showers), to primitive forestry campsites at Bob’s Lake and the another campground at Shingle Beach.

Once on Texada you can enjoy a variety of out door recreation. There are numerous dirt roads and trails to explore by foot or mountain bike. Hiking to the top of Mount Pocahontas, the third tallest peak on the island at 1,745 feet affords spectacular 360° views of the Coast Mountain range on the mainland, Vancouver Island to the west and Georgia Strait.

Bird watchers flock to Gilles Bay to spot the many different kinds of finches perching along the fence of the airport. Hundreds of Brant geese stop over in Gilles Bay for a few weeks in March and April each year on their long migration back to northern Alaska and the Yukon. Osprey dive into the coastal waters to catch fish and Bald Eagles can be seen trying to steal their catch. The Great Blue Heron and Kingfisher also frequent the bays of the island. Rufous Hummingbirds abound from April to August.

Rock hunters will find all sorts of treasures on the island, from fossilized sea creatures to the famed “flower rock” that is abundant on some of the local beaches.

Of course on an island you can also enjoy all of the water sports from fishing, boating, swimming and scuba diving. In fact Nation Geographic and Jacques Cousteau rated the waters in BC as the No. 2 dive spot in the world second only to the Red Sea.

From June through October the Gilles Bay Ball Field hosts a farmers market every Sunday. It features bake sales, organic produce and gift items.

The highlight of the summer activities can be experienced at the “Sandcastle Weekend“.

The Sliammon Village Powell River

The Sliammon Village is situated between Powell River and Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park. It is home to about 800 band members of the First Nation’s People called The Sliammon. This band belongs within The Coast Salish who inhabited the coastal regions of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest about four thousand years ago. Approximately 20 bands belong to the Coast Salish with each band having their own individual language and culture.

The Sliammon have constructed a salmon hatchery on the grassy banks of Sliammon Creek. To allow visitors to see salmon spawning naturally, a shallow channel has been dug around a tree-covered island and the bottom filled with the size of gravel in which salmon prefer to lay their eggs. The hatchery is open daily and visitors are welcome.

Sliammon Culture

The Family - In traditional Sliammon society, parents, their children, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all lived together in the same house. This “extended family” was much larger than the “nuclear family” of today’s society. Therefore, more people shared the responsibilities for the successful operation of the household. Aunts and uncles were as responsible for the upbringing of the children as the parents themselves were.

Indian Healing Years and years of experience had taught the Sliammon which substances would cure sickness or ease pain. When conditions were beyond the healing power of the household remedies, the shamans or Indian doctors were called upon.

Most Sliammon people were able to heal their own common disorders. Plants were used to cure all kinds of ailments. Sometimes herbs were chewed and the juice swallowed. A sore throat was cured this way by using the roots of the licorice fern. A well-known medicine was to use the cascara bark steeped in water and drunk as a laxative. Yet not all cures for illness involved medicines. Some Sliammon women had the power to heal people by massage. It is said that these women could diagnose an illness simply by holding a person’s hand. The knowledge necessary for this kind of healing was carefully guarded and passed down from one generation to the next.

Raiding  - Warfare was not central to the Sliammon way of life. Instead, they stayed near home and defended themselves against attacks from Lekwiltok and Haida who came from the north to raid for slaves. Or they defended their homes from the Chilcotin who came from the Interior to raid the rich stocks of coastal salmon.

Fishing -The Sliammon people treated the salmon with special respect because the salmon were so important to them. Most of their food came from the sea. To catch the salmon they built tidal weirs and traps near the mouths of spawning rivers in order to take advantage of the rising and falling of the tide. They used harpoons, dip nets and gaff hooks in the streams and rivers. In the open water, they trolled for salmon and used gill nets. A celebration was held with the arrival of the first spring (chinook) salmon. The first man to catch the first salmon of the new season would hold the salmon up in the air and thank it for coming to help his people fill their stomachs. Then a messenger was sent to invite the people to a feast of boiled salmon. This ritual was repeated each year as well as other rituals associated with salmon. For example, the spring salmon bones were thrown back into the water where it was believed they would come alive again.

Today, chum salmon is by far the Slaimmon people’s favorite fish for smoking and it still forms an important part of their winter diet.

Sliammon Language

The Sliammon Indians speak a dialect of the language “Comox”. Two main dialects of the Comox language are comprised of Mainland Comox and Island Comox. About one half of the 850 people who are of the Homalco, Klahoose and Sliammon bands now living on the Sliammon Indian Reserve, speak their native language.

Sue Pielle is a teacher who was involved in the education field for 22 years. She was concerned that the culture was changing and their native language was disappearing. She first began to teach the Slimmmon language by opening an alternate school on the reserve. Later the Sliammon language classes where moved to the old Brooks Junior High School. In September 1991, she approached the school district and started working with students at James Thomson School. She ran the language program there for 8 years. Marion Harry has replaced Sue as the Sliammon language instructor while Sue continues to work on the Sliammon reserve with the kindergarten students.

Savary Island

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.

Savory Island Beaches

Jumping off from Lund, via the Savory Water Taxi, Vacationers and Residents alike approach some of the best beaches on the West Coast. White sand, protected coves, and shallow beaches of emerald waters provide for good swimming during the summer months. Often boaters will anchor out from shore and take a dingy in to enjoy an afternoon picnic, though the exposure to the prevailing weather usually precludes water camping. Experience teaches that if it is windy on one side of the island a 15 minute walk can land one on a calm far side.

While development continues to provide challenges for sound use of ground water and waste water, the islanders have addressed their garbage disposal. A private business provides weekly pickup and disposal to the Powell River Waste Transfer Site. A narrow runway lies mid-island, though it is now officially closed.

Lund Powell River

Famous for its prestigious location at the start of Hwy. 101, Lund is a quiet village about 17 miles north of Powell River. While there are approximately 800 year round residents, this number increases dramatically in the summer months with vacationers using Lund as a Jumping Off Point to Savary island, Desolation Sound and points further north up the rugged BC coast.

It’s focal point is it’s well sheltered harbor and the beautiful old Hotel that over looks it. This is where most of the action around Lund takes place. Here you can find accommodation in the Hotel, camp in RV parks, or at the nearby Okeover Provincial Park or Dinner Rock Campground. Various recreational companies are located in Lund that offer kayak, cycling, hiking, and diving rentals and guided tours.

History of Lund

Although Lund is now part of the Powell River Regional District, it had a far more independent beginning.

Lund was established in 1889 by the Thulin brothers, immigrants from Sweden who came to British Columbia in order to stake a claim for the good life. The name comes from the university city of Lund in Sweden were the brothers were born.

The brothers arrived in the area in 1889 from Vancouver via a side-wheeler tug named the Mermaid. They built a wharf, piped water, cleared and drained land for farming. By 1894 they had built the First Lund Hotel , the first hotel to be issued a license north of Vancouver.

In 1895 their operation had grown to the point that they had to build a larger store, and extra space was provided to handle mail that was brought up the coast on tugs every three or four weeks from Hastings Mill in Vancouver.

By 1901 the Thulin brothers had started to expand their business.
They bought the first donkey engine seen up the coast.

That same year they built their first steamboat, “City of Lund”, and expanded their chain of stores to Sliammon Village and another were the present day Townsite is.

In 1902 the Lund Post Office was officially established, being only one of two north of Vancouver, the other at Gibsons on the Sechelt Peninsula.

Through the years Lund was the last stop in civilization for many heading north. It was an important stopping off point for fuel and provisions. Logging and fishing kept the community going over the years, to the present time where most of the life in the community still revolves around the harbour. Today instead of some rugged men looking to carve out a home from the bush, you will find those adventurous souls looking to discover something about themselves and nature, using Lund as a staging point to their holidays.

Cranberry Lake

The Cranberry Lake District is located a mile south east of Powell River’s Westview District, and just up the hill back from the ocean above the Townsite.

Early in 1911 George Smarge, Magnus P. Olson and George McFall filed a fifty two-acre mineral claim near Cranberry Lake. They built their own private road through the virgin forest. The mineral claim was later cancelled but the settlement of Cranberry had begun. The McFalls were among the first to establish a Farm In Cranberry. They raised pigs, planted an orchard and operated a dairy.

In 1921 the Government subdivided the Cranberry Lake district into lots. At a drawing at the old Patricia Theater, the lots were given to returned soldiers for the sum of one dollar each. Cranberry really began to grow as the veterans built homes or sold their property to folks who did.

Cranberry Lake was incorporated as a village in 1942. As a self-contained village, Cranberry Lake prospered and in 1955 was amalgamated with the other outlying districts to form The Corporation of the Powell River District.

Today Cranberry sports a thriving grocery store, a general store, a famous potter shop and a handful of store front service businesses.

As throughout Powell River, many home-based businesses provide services for the residents and businesses of the area and beyond.