A kayak and a sunset on Valdes Island.
The Southern Gulf Islands, including Valdes.
|Land district||Cedar Land District|
|Region||Southern Gulf Islands|
|• MP||Elizabeth May (Green)|
|• MLA||Murray Coell(BC Liberal Party)|
|• Total||23 km2 (9 sq mi)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC−8)|
|• Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC−7)|
|Area code(s)||250, 778|
Valdes Island is one of the Gulf Islands located in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada. It is across Porlier Pass from Galiano Island, which lies to the southeast. It has an area of 23 km2, and is 1.6 km wide by 16 km in length. The island is popular with kayakers, boaters and has historically been the site of several human settlements.
Naming and early exploration
It is named for Spanish explorer Cayetano Valdés y Flores, who first came to the region in 1791 as a lieutenant serving under Captain Alexandro Malaspina on the Descubierta. Valdes returned later in 1792 as captain of the Mexicana to explore the area with Dionisio Alcalá Galiano who captained the Sutil. The island was given its name in 1859 by George Henry Richards, captain of HMS Plumper.
There is currently a small community of permanent residents on Valdes Island, located at Starvation Bay. One third of the island is set aside as three Indian reserves of the Lyackson First Nation. At Shingle Point, which is the location of one of those reserves, the island shows evidence of human habitation from at least 5,000 years ago in the form of approximately 60 archeological sites.
Valdes Island was one of the locations of the colonies of the Aquarian Foundation, the BC-based cult run by Brother XII in the late 1920s and early 1930s The organization had several buildings on the island, of which little trace remains today. There were also rumours that money was buried on the island, however these have never been proven.
There is a cave in the middle of the island. According to legend, it runs under the sea to emerge on Thetis Island, but recent explorers have found that rockfalls have made remote parts too narrow for human passage.
Wakes Cove Provincial Park and the Blackberry Point Campsite are located on the island. These two campsites, as well as an abundance of wildlife and unusual sandstone geology make this island a popular destination for recreational kayaking and camping. The Blackberry Point Campsite was the first campsite established as part of the BC Marine Trails Network by Peter McGee in the early 1990s. The site at Wakes Cove is still undeveloped, lacking any facilities for campers, however there is an abandoned well along an overgrown road in the area. The Blackberry Point site has defined cooking and tenting spaces, trails from the beach as well as a composting toilet.
- "Valdes Island". BC Geographical Names.
- 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.
- Walbran, John T. (1909). British Columbia Coast Names, 1592-1906 : to which are added a few names in adjacent United States territory, their origin and history. Ottawa Government Printing Bureau. p. 501. OCLC 317633225.
- "Lyacksun Indian Reserve 3". BC Geographical Names.
- "Porlier Pass Indian Reserve 5". BC Geographical Names.
- "Shingle Point Indian Reserve 4". BC Geographical Names.
- Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - Reserves/Settlements/Villages Detail