Saturna Island

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Saturna Island
South-facing aerial view of Saturna Island
South-facing aerial view of Saturna Island
The Southern Gulf Islands, including Saturna.
The Southern Gulf Islands, including Saturna.
Country Canada Canada
Province British Columbia British Columbia
Regional District Capital Regional District
 • MP Elizabeth May (Green)
 • MLA Gary Holman (BC NDP)
 • Land 31 km2 (12 sq mi)
 • Total 350
Time zone PST (UTC−8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
Flag of Canada.svg

Saturna Island is a mountainous island, about 31 km² (12 sq. miles) in size, in the Southern Gulf Islands chain of British Columbia. It is situated approximately midway between the Lower Mainland of B.C. and Vancouver Island, and is the most easterly of the Gulf Islands. It is surrounded on three sides by the Canada/USA border. To the north is Point Roberts, Washington, and to the east and south are the San Juan Islands. Saturna has a permanent population of around 350, although that number increases significantly during the busy summer season. Approximately half of the island is in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (GINPR) that was formed in 2003 from existing provincial parks, an Ecological Reserve, and other Crown land [1].


The island was first used by indigenous people who called the island "Long Nose," due to the island's long north-eastern tapering shoreline that ends at East Point. The name Saturna comes from the Spanish naval schooner Santa Saturnina ("St. Saturnina") captained by pilot (piloto) José María Narváez, which together with the longboat of the Spanish naval packet ship San Carlos, explored the island's coast in an excursion under the overall command of Pilot Juan Pantoja y Arriaga in 1791.[1] The name was initially applied only to East Point. The contraction to "Saturna" applied to the whole island was first made by Dionisio Alcalá Galiano in 1792.[2] The name is not a corruption. Galiano was familiar with the role of the "Santa Saturnina" in the early exploration of the coast. Why he made the change is not known. The first European settlers came in the 1800s, but the island was slower to develop than the neighbouring Southern Gulf Islands due to its relative isolation and mountainous topography.


  • January: Robbie Burns Night Dinner
  • May: Spring Pig BBQ
  • July: Canada Day Lamb Barbecue
  • September: Vineyard Harvest Festival
  • November: Fall Pig BBQ

Parks and beaches[edit]

  • Gulf Islands National Park Reserve provides opportunities for boating, kayaking, hiking, camping and wildlife viewing.[3] At Narvaez Bay, there is a 2.5 km (approx. 1.5hr) trail to the viewpoint at Monarch Head. At Monarch Head there are views of Boundary Pass and the American San Juan Islands.[4] At East Point there is a local visitor's centre, Foghorn Alarm Building (FAB), which is run by the Saturna Island Heritage Committee.[5] There are also marine wildlife viewing opportunities at East Point, where one can see harbour seals and sea lions on Boiling Reef, and Dall's porpoise and resident orcas feeding in Boundary Pass.[3] The Lyall Creek trail (2 km; approx. 40 mins 1 way) cuts through second growth Douglas-fir forest to a waterfall that feeds into one of the Southern Gulf Island's only salmon-bearing creeks.[6] Scheduled Interpretive Programs provide an opportunity to learn about the flora and fauna of Lyall Creek, and about past and present efforts to restore this watershed.[7] At 397 metres (1,303 feet) Mt. Warburton Pike is Saturna Island's highest point. At Mt. Warburton Pike there are panoramic views of Vancouver Island, the Southern Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands. At Mt. Warburton Pike one can see feral goats, bald eagles, turkey vultures and falcons.[8] At Winter Cove, the 1.5 km loop trail travels through skunk cabbage wetland, spruce-salal upland and salt marsh, before arriving at the turbulent waters of Boat Pass.[4]
  • Thompson Park. This Community Park has a sand-and-pebble beach. Amenities at Thompson Park include ample parking, picnic tables and a pit toilet.


  • Gulf Islands National Park Reserve offers 7 walk-in (or kayak-in) backcountry campsites at Narvaez Bay. The trailhead to Narvaez Bay is located at the parking lot at the end of Narvaez Bay Road. There is also a bike rack available for cyclists to lock up their bikes. There is no potable water at Narvaez Bay, and no campfires are permitted, regardless of season.[4]

Arts and culture[edit]


  1. ^ Blumenthal, Richard W. (2004). The early exploration of inland Washington waters: journals and logs from six expeditions, 1786–1792. McFarland. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-7864-1879-4. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Réserve de parc national du Canada des Îles-Gulf | Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada". September 23, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "Parks Canada – Gulf Islands National Park Reserve – Brochures". May 11, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  5. ^ Saturna Heritage. "Welcome To The Saturna Heritage Centre | Saturna Heritage". Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Parks Canada – Gulf Islands National Park Reserve – Background". August 28, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Parks Canada – Gulf Islands National Park Reserve – Interpretive Programs". October 12, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Parks Canada – Gulf Islands National Park Reserve – Map". August 10, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°47′N 123°09′W / 48.783°N 123.150°W / 48.783; -123.150