Active Pass

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Active Pass from Galiano Island

Active Pass (Saanich: sqθeq)[1] is a narrow passage separating Mayne Island and Galiano Island in British Columbia, Canada's Southern Gulf Islands. It is one of three passes leading from the Gulf Islands into the Strait of Georgia. The pass stretches 5.5 km from northeast to southwest with two roughly right angle bends.

It was named for the USCS Active, a United States Navy survey vessel, the first steamer to navigate the pass in 1855.[2][3]

Active Pass from the Ferry Deck

Currently, the pass is used by BC Ferries' passenger and vehicle ferry runs between B.C.'s Lower Mainland, the southern Gulf Islands and Swartz Bay on southern Vancouver Island. Because the Pass is so narrow, the ferries pass very close to the sides. It is also used by pleasure craft, fishing boats, freighters and freight ferries, making it very 'active' commercially as well. However, strong eddies and rip currents are always present in the pass, making it a hazardous corridor for smaller vessels to transit. A variety of wildlife may be seen in the pass, including harbour seals, sea lions, bald eagles, and orcas.

The Queen of Saanich navigates Active Pass

Accidents in Active Pass[edit]

  • On August 2, 1970, three people aboard the BC Ferry Queen of Victoria perished and the ship itself suffered close to $1 million damage when a Russian freighter, the Sergey Yesenin, struck it in Active Pass.[4]
  • On August 9, 1979, the BC Ferry Queen of Alberni ran aground at Collinson Reef in Active Pass, causing the vessel to tip dramatically to one side. Extensive vehicle and ship damage occurred, as well as the casualty of a racehorse.[4]


  1. ^ "Saanich Place Names". Saanich Classified Word List. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  2. ^ "Active Pass". BC Geographical Names. 
  3. ^ "Active Pass". Encyclopedia of British Columbia. Harbour Publishing. 2000.
  4. ^ a b Bannerman, Gary and Patricia. The Ships of British Columbia. pp.109–110. Hancock House. 1985

Coordinates: 48°51′35″N 123°18′43″W / 48.85972°N 123.31194°W / 48.85972; -123.31194

External links[edit]