Galiano Island

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Galiano Island

Galiano Island and the Salish Sea (facing Northwest)
Galiano Island and the Salish Sea (facing Northwest)
Confiamos en Nosotros ("We trust in ourselves")
A map of the island
A map of the island
ProvinceBritish Columbia
RegionSouthern Gulf Islands
Regional DistrictCapital Regional District
Islands TrustGaliano Island Local Trust Area
 • MPElizabeth May (Green)
 • MLAAdam Olsen (Green)
 • Land60.15 km2 (23.22 sq mi)
 • Total1,044
 • Density17.4/km2 (45/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
Postal Code
V0N 1P0
Area code(s)250

Galiano Island is one of the Southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. Located on the west side of the Strait of Georgia, it is 27.5 km (17.1 mi) long, 6 km (3.7 mi) at its widest point, and 1.6 km (1.0 mi) across at its narrowest point and is separated from Saltspring Island by Trincomali Channel. On the western side of the island there are a series of sandstone caves. The island is northwest of Mayne Island, northeast of Saltspring Island and southeast of Valdes Island. It is part of the Capital Regional District Electoral Area G, and has a population of 1044 inhabitants.[2]

Named after the Spanish explorer Dionisio Alcalá Galiano, who explored the area in 1792,[3] (the island is twinned with his home city - Cabra in Córdoba province, Spain[4]). Galiano was long inhabited by aboriginal people from the Penelakut First Nation and used by other Coast Salish nations. Midden pits at Montague Harbour suggest 3000 years of habitation. Today there is only one Indian Reserve on the island, Galiano Indian Reserve No. 9, located at the northern tip of the island and under Penelakut administration.[5][6] Industries of the past were logging, fishing and charcoal-burning, although today tourism and the arts are the most common methods of employment.


Government bodies that oversee the island include Federal, Provincial and the Capital Regional District as well as the Islands Trust whose mandate is to establish land-use bylaws to "preserve and protect" the island, most notably in terms of development. For most of the twentieth century roughly half of the land on Galiano was owned by the logging firm MacMillan Bloedel. As a result, Galiano was not as extensively developed as neighboring islands. When the firm sold its holdings on Galiano, debate about development issues sharpened, and the Islands Trust set minimum lot sizes to limit development.

Local elections are held every three years to determine who will be the island's two Trustees.


Sturdies Bay, the BC Ferries terminal

Galiano Island is accessible by vehicle via BC Ferries; the terminal is situated adjacent to the Village Sturdies Bay, in the southeast corner of the island, at the entrance to Active Pass. This vehicle and passenger scheduled ferry service runs from Tsawwassen (Vancouver) on the mainland and Swartz Bay (Victoria) on Vancouver Island. There are numerous inter-island ferries that connect the Gulf Islands.

Moorage is available at several public wharves for boat traffic: Sturdies Bay, (walking distance to the Village), Montague Harbour, Whalers Bay and Retreat Cove. Private moorage is available at Montague Harbour Marina and the Galiano Oceanfront Inn (Sturdies Bay)

Daily, regularly scheduled floatplane service is offered from Downtown Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport through Seair Seaplanes to Montague Harbour. There is regularly scheduled floatplane service from Seattle daily through Kenmore Air, either through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Kenmore Air Harbor and Seattle Lake Union.

Parks and wildlife[edit]

Bodega Ridge offers views over Trincomali Channel

Galiano Island has a large variety of animals and plants. In a major flight path for migrating birds, Galiano has hundreds of bird species.[7] Commonly sighted are eagles, herons and cormorants. Off its shores are resident and transient orca whales, seals, otters, sea lions and many varieties of sea life. The Galiano Trails Society[8] has been providing trails to access many of these areas.

The view north along the shores of Shell Beach. The white of the shells can be seen in the distance.

Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park is one of the most popular parks in the Gulf Islands. It is unique for its Shell Beach, which is a west-facing beach with worn shells covering the whole expanse of the beach instead of sand. For thousands of years, it was the location of a midden used by Coast Salish people.[9]

Montague Harbour is popular with the recreational boating community; the harbour is often crowded with yachts and sailboats during the warmer months of June, July, and August. The Park's mooring buoys are in limited supply and cannot be reserved, but the harbour is well sheltered if one chooses to anchor. A marina with moorage, gas dock, several small stores, and a cafe (summer only) is located at the southern end of the harbour. A public dock is near the marina.

Dionisio Point Provincial Park is a boat-access, rugged natural park at the north end of the island with beautiful beaches that the local islanders call Coon Bay. Here you will find a unique shoreline with artistically sculpted sandstone formations, a sand beach for swimming, tidal pools, and colourful wildflowers and forests that fill this beautiful provincial park. Cyclists are not permitted to access the park through the private road.

Bluffs Park is Galiano's oldest wilderness park, established by community subscription in 1948. With 130 ha (320 acres), it extends far inland into virgin forest, as well having high cliffs and a long sandy beach.

Mount Galiano from the south

Mount Galiano is Galiano’s highest point of land. It rises 314 meters (1030 feet) above sea level. The top provides hikers with views over the Gulf Islands, the U.S. San Juan Islands and the distant mainland mountains as well.

Sutil Mountain in the southeastern part of the island is an Ecological Reserve 290 meters (951 feet) above sea level, named after Capt. Galiano's flagship.

Collinson Point Provincial Park is essentially the shoreline of Mount Galiano, and is important in protecting the marine life of the approaches to Active Pass.

Bodega Ridge Provincial Park consists of a ridge rising several hundred metres above sea level, with views over many of the Gulf Islands' hundreds of islands and islets and beyond to the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. High cliffs are home to raptors like peregrine falcons and bald eagles, as well as trees like cedars and Douglas fir.

Tapovan Peace Park is a Tapovan of some 200 acres in the middle of the Island, dedicated to Sri Chinmoy. It features many hiking trails named by the word "peace", each in a different language, and a veritable stairway to heaven ascending the high cliff.

Matthews Point Park is a 25-hectare Capital Regional District Park that preserves over a kilometre of waterfront on Active Pass, of which 300 metres are broad sandy beach. It was named after a pioneer family whose descendants in England later contributed towards the Park purchase. There is also a hiking loop along the clifftops.[10] It adjoins and is connected to Bluffs Park.

The Trincomali Nature Sanctuary is an area of sheer cliffs that has been set aside by the Islands Trust for the preservation of Double-crested cormorants and Peregrine Falcons, among other species.


Climate data for Galiano Island
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.4
Average low °C (°F) 0.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 153


Due to the minimal development of Galiano, tourism on the island has remained limited and sustainable. There are two proper hotels and several cabin resorts, but most accommodation comes in the form of Bed and Breakfasts, the Montague Provincial Park Campsite or holiday rentals. Activities on Galiano Island include hiking, boating, visiting art galleries, golfing and exploring beaches, as well as frequent musical events.


While most of the Island can be accessed by paved road, some logging roads remain in use in the less traveled sections of the Island.

The powerline HVDC Vancouver-Island crosses Galiano Island in southwestly direction as overhead powerline section, which ends at a cable terminal on Parker Island.

Notable people[edit]


Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Census Profile, 2016 Census - Galiano Island Trust Area, Island trust Designated place, British Columbia and Alberta Province
  2. ^ "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and designated places, 2016 census". 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  3. ^ "Galiano Island". BC Geographical Names.
  4. ^ "Asociación Cultural Dionisio Alcalá-Galiano - Inicio". Archived from the original on 2011-12-28. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  5. ^ "Galiano Indian Reserve 9". BC Geographical Names.
  6. ^ Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Reserve/Settlement/Village Detail Archived 2012-05-15 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Galiano Island Check List". 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  8. ^ "Galiano Trails Society".
  9. ^ "Galiano Island". The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2014-01-23. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  10. ^ CRD, Matthews Point Management Plan

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°55′N 123°25′W / 48.917°N 123.417°W / 48.917; -123.417