Bowen Island and BC Ferry, viewed looking southwest from the Cypress Mountain ski area.
Location of Bowen Island in Greater Vancouver
|Regional District||Greater Vancouver Regional District|
|• Mayor||Jack Adelaar|
|• MP||John Weston (Conservative)|
|• MLA||Jordan Sturdy (BC Liberal Party)|
|• Land||50.14 km2 (19.36 sq mi)|
|• Density||67.9/km2 (176/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC−8)|
|• Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC−7)|
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Bowen Island, British Columbia, is an island municipality in Howe Sound, is part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and is an island included within the jurisdiction of the Islands Trust. Approximately 6 km wide by 12 km long, the island at its closest point is about 3 km west of the mainland. There is regular ferry service from Horseshoe Bay, as well as three water taxi services. The population of 3,402 is supplemented in the summer by roughly 1,500 visitors, as Bowen Island is a popular vacation home location for British Columbians. About 500 workers and over 200 students commute to offices and schools on the mainland each day. The island has a land area of 49.94 km2 (19.28 sq mi).
- 1 Indigenous people
- 2 Post-colonization
- 3 21st century
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Films shot entirely or partly on Bowen Island
- 6 References
- 7 External links
- 8 Further reading
- 9 Surrounding municipalities
The indigenous people of this land are known as Squamish (or Sḵwxwú7mesh in their language). Their territory covers Howe Sound, including Bowen Island. They are part of the Coast Salish cultural and linguistic group. Their language is separate and distinct from their Halkomelem-speaking relatives to the south, but more closely connected to their Shishalh kinship from Sechelt.
Areas such as Snug Cove and a few other parts of the island were used as camp sites for hunting and gathering trips. In their Squamish language, the name for Snug Cove is Xwilil Xhwm, which means "Cove". Historically they would use the warmer spring and summer months to travel to resource gathering sites and move from their permanent winter villages. The strip of land between Bowen and Finisterre Islands has a name that translates to "Fast Drumming Ground". The tide rushing in and out is reminiscent of the sound of drums beating quickly. The name "kwemshem" is used for Hood Point. Bowen is still used by people from Sḵwxwú7mesh and Musqueam for deer hunting.
Into the 20th century Bowen Island was actively used by Squamish people for deer and duck hunting, fishing and, later, wage jobs. In conversations with Vancouver archivist Major Matthews in the 1950s, August Jack Khatsahlano recalls knowing several Squamish who worked for whalers on the island at the turn of the 20th century. In a conversation with City of Vancouver archivist JA Matthews, Khatsahlano himself recalls deer hunting on Bowen, saying that at one time he took the biggest deer in British Columbia from the island, weighing in at 195 pounds.
When Spanish explorers arrived on the west coast of Canada, they named many of the features of what is now the Strait of Georgia. Bowen Island was called Isla de Apodaca (after the Mexican town of Apodaca, in north-east Nuevo León province - itself named after a benevolent bishop, Salvador de Apodaca y Loreto) by the Spanish Captain José María Narváez in July, 1791. In 1860 Cpt. George Henry Richards renamed the island after Rear Admiral James Bowen master of the HMS Queen Charlotte.:58
Bowen remained a wilderness until 1871 when homesteaders built houses and started a brickworks, which supplied bricks to the expanding city of Vancouver. Over the years, local industry has included an explosives factory, logging, mining, and milling, although there is no heavy industry on the island at present.
In the first half of the 20th century, life on Bowen was dominated by a resort operated by the Terminal Steamship Company (1900 - 1920) and the Union Steamship Company (1920 - 1962). These companies provided steamer service to Vancouver, and the Horseshoe Bay - Bowen Island Ferry began in 1921. When the Union Steamship resort closed in the 1960s the island returned to a quiet period of slow growth. In the 1940s and 1950s, the artists' colony called Lieben was a retreat for many famous Canadian authors, artists, and intellectuals including Earle Birney, Alice Munro, Dorothy Livesay, Margaret Laurence, A.J.M. Smith, Jack Shadbolt, Eric Nicol and Malcolm Lowry, who finished his last book, October Ferry to Gabriola, there. It is now a National Historic Site of Canada. In the 1980s, real estate pressures in Vancouver accelerated growth on Bowen and currently the local economy is largely dependent on commuters who work on the mainland in Greater Vancouver. Prior to becoming a municipality, Bowen Island was part of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, made up of small communities and municipalities. However, in the 1980s the island transferred to the Greater Vancouver Regional District after a campaign organized by developers and realtors. A campaign to make the island an autonomous municipality was successful after two referendum attempts.
In 1999 the Bowen Island Municipality was incorporated, becoming the second "island municipality" in BC. The first was Saltspring Island which was incorporated in 1873 and dissolved by the BC legislature 10 years later.
The Island has several small businesses including marinas, cafes, gift shops, grocery stores, a pharmacy, restaurants, garden and flower shops, a building supply shop and a Chamber of Commerce. In June 2007, First Credit Union, a full-service bank, opened its doors in Snug Cove. There is also a North Shore Credit Union automated banking machine. Groceries are available at the Snug Cove General Store and the Ruddy Potato Whole Foods Market. Shops are concentrated around Snug Cove and, further into the island, Artisan Square. The Ruddy Potato now also has a small kitchen on the west side of Bowen Island, going up towards the golf course on sunset.  There are also several restaurants, including The Snug, Miksa, Tuscany, and the Lime and Moon Pie Company. Bowen Island has a high proportion of artists and artisans, and the Bowen Island Pub on Trunk Road regularly features live music. There is also a 2,746 metre (3,003 yard) 130 Slope rated 9-hole golf course.
Bowen Island is served by two scheduled water-transportation operators:
- BC Ferries, a de facto Provincial Crown corporation, serves the island with the Queen of Capilano car ferry, which travels between Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver and Snug Cove on Bowen Island.
- English Bay Launch  runs a commuter service from Snug Cove to Granville Island and Coal Harbour during the week and in the summer months, runs a tourist service on the weekends.
- Cormorant Marine runs a late-night passenger-only water taxi between the government docks in Horseshoe Bay and in Snug Cove.
Public roads are maintained by the Bowen Island Municipality. There are roadside walking trails in only a few places and the terrain is hilly and winding. Private vehicles are the primary form of transportation and hitchhiking is commonplace.
- Route C10 - Bluewater/Snug Cove
- Route C11 - EagleCliff/Snug Cove
The Island is in the West Vancouver School district and has an award winning public elementary school Bowen Island Community School. High school students living in Bowen Island (grades 8 to 12) travel to West Vancouver to attend West Vancouver Secondary School, Sentinel Secondary School, or Rockridge. Other education options are Daycare and Preschool programs run by the Bowen Children's Centre a private Montessori preschool / and the Island Pacific School, an international baccalaureate middle school for grades 6 through 9. Some students also travel to West Vancouver to attend French Immersion at Ecole Pauline Johnson. There is a public supported home learning program The Learning Centre and a growing number of families also unschool.
Particularly for a small community, Bowen Island has an extensive cultural life. Notably, Bowen Island boasts four different choral ensembles; an extensive theatre school for children; and a public gallery which showcases local artists. The Bowen Island Museum and Archive features regularly changing exhibits documenting Bowen Island's history, as well as a restored logger's cabin from 1948.
Bowen has a long history as a day-trip destination from Vancouver. Today, the island offers a number of popular swimming beaches, including Sandy Beach, Tunstall Bay, Cates Bay and Bowen Bay. There is a kayak rental operation in Snug Cove. Crippen Regional Park features maintained trails and picnic areas. A popular hike leads from the ferry dock to Killarney Lake, and from there up Mount Gardner, the island's highest point. The island hosts annual sailing and kayaking races. There are work out facilities and a tennis court operated by the Recreation department of the municipality at the elementary school as well as private gym facilities and yoga classes. The baseball diamond In Snug Cove is home to the popular men's fastpitch league. The artificial turf field at the elementary school is home to Bowen Island FC.
Places of worship
There are a number of Christian churches on the Island. St Gerard's Catholic Church is located on Miller Road. The United Church is situated in a timber building erected in 1932 a little further along on the same road. Also on Miller Road, nearer to Snug Cove, and meeting in Bowen Court, is Bowen Island Community Church, an affiliate of the Congregational Christian Churches in Canada. Lastly, Cates Hill Chapel is a Christian Brethren church founded in 1991. Its present building on Carter Road was opened in 1999. There are also regular meetings held by Unitarians and Quakers. Bowen Island is home to the Canadian branch of L'Abri, a communal Christian retreat centre where visitors come for self-directed study. Finally, Camp Bow-Isle is a summer camp for Christian Scientists.
There are regular Buddhist meditation sittings in both the Zen and Vipassana traditions.
Bowen's Jewish community celebrates Shabbat and high holidays, and acquired a Torah in 2006.
|Canada 2006 Census||Population||% of Total Population|
|Visible minority group
|Other visible minority||10||0.3%|
|Mixed visible minority||40||1.2%|
|Total visible minority population||185||5.5%|
|Total Aboriginal population||130||3.9%|
Films shot entirely or partly on Bowen Island
- 1966 The Trap
- 1976 The Food of the Gods
- 1986 Clan of the Cave Bear
- 1988 People Across the Lake
- 1988 American Gothic
- 1989 Cousins
- 1989 Look Who's Talking
- 1990 Bird on a Wire
- 1990 The Russia House
- 1993 Another Stakeout
- 1994 Intersection
- 1995 Hideaway
- 1997 All the Winters That Have Been
- 1998 Disturbing Behavior
- 1999 Double Jeopardy
- 2001 Antitrust
- 2004 Rugged Rich and the Ona Ona
- 2005 The Fog
- 2005 Paper Moon Affair
- 2006 The Hitchhiker
- 2006 The Wicker Man
- 2008 Are We Still the Ugly American?
- 2008 River
- 2009 The Uninvited
- 2009 Harper's Island, CBS 13-episode miniseries.
- "Council Members". Bowen Island Municipal Website. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
- Bowen Island population - 2011 Census
- "Bowen Island". BC Geographical Names. http://apps.gov.bc.ca/pub/bcgnws/names/456.html.
- Walbran, Captain John T. (1971). British Columbia Place Names, Their Origin and History (Facsimile reprint of 1909 ed.). Vancouver/Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre. ISBN 0-88894-143-9.
- Hill Strategies Research. "Artists in Small and Rural Municipalities in Canada".
- "Bowen Island Golf Course". Retrieved 2008-03-08.
- Island&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=All&Custom=, Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision
- , Aboriginal Peoples - Data table
- Weblink to some great photos of the village on the Rita Tushingham homepage: http://members.cox.net/rjd0309/tush/1964.htm#trap
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bowen Island.|
- Bowen Island Municipality - official site for municipal government
- Bowen Island Chamber of Commerce
- Community Profile: Bowen Island Island Municipality, Greater Vancouver Regional District, British Columbia; Statistics Canada
- Hanen, Edythe Anstey (2004). Bowen Island Reflections. Bowen Island Historians, 160 pp.
- Howard, Irene (1973). Bowen Island 1872-1972. Bowen Island Historians, 190 pp.
- Ommundsen, Peter D. (1997). Bowen Island Passenger Ferries. The Sannie Transportation Company 1921-1956. Cape West Publishing, 64 pp.
(via ferry from West Vancouver)
|Howe Sound||North Shore Mountains
Lions Bay (via West Vancouver)
|Howe Sound||West Vancouver
(ferry to Horseshoe Bay)
|Strait of Georgia||Strait of Georgia||Vancouver
(via West Vancouver)