Monday, August 19, 2013


Yesterday we set out to explore some of the southern tip of Galiano Island in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. We rented one of the Galiano Inn's SmartCars and visited some of the island's funky stores first.

There is a strong sense of the hippy era here and, indeed, many residents are descended from them and quite a few US deserters who settled here during the Vietnam war. The smell of incense and homemade soap and candles wafted out
of tiny shops as we passed by.

A bit later we explored some of the country lanes that wound to the rocky shoreline and peeked out at the bays. The island is covered in forest and you can't see the ocean from the roads. By sheer luck we ended up at the Galiano Cemetery by Georgeson Bay from which point you can see the ferries crossing each other in Active Pass close up.

With the sunshine slanting through the mossy evergreens we came to the cemetery gate and walked down a path flanked by some very old grave stones, as well as some recent ones with fresh flowers. It was beautiful and tranquil. I said, "I would like to be put in a place like this when the time comes." My husband ignored the sentiment because he doesn't like to think about it.

At the end of the point, where the land drops off sharply, several benches look down onto Active Pass. The tide was sluicing through the
channel and around a reef as I heard the first rumble of an approaching ferry. Next came a siren and another answered it. The two ferries passed each other right by us. Had the tide been low, we might have also seen seals on the rocks.

We continued on our way to see Bellhouse Provincial Park and Sturdies Bay from another perspective than the one we have from the inn. We headed for lunch at the Hummingbird Pub, halfway to Montague Harbour. This is funky and friendly with hearty food. By now we were getting used to the servers letting us know that they were out of certain ingredients. Food deliveries come to the island on Fridays and favourites get used up quickly.

There is no public transportation or taxis on Galiano and I was amused that the pub had its own old school bus for fetching customers from their boats anchored in Montague Harbour and returning them after a few pints and dinner. Of course, if you bring your own vehicle over on the ferry this is not an issue. However, many visitors sail in and a few come by float plane....

After lunch we both wanted to visit some of the many art galleries on the island and especially the studio of Eleanor Coulthard at Whaler Bay. Down a narrow lane we went and popped out at the government wharf where the big bay opened up in front of us. Whaler Bay Studio lies just up the hill and Eleanor was painting in the garden. She offered us a cup of tea as she showed us her work in a large open gallery. She told us about the history of the place and the stories behind her mostly watercolours. We fell for a small oil of a sailboat anchored in the bay and bought it. We'd spent about 45 minutes enjoying the experience of meeting such a welcoming artist.

I was captured by the sandstone at the edge of the bays where the currents and tides erode it into shapes. Some are carved with small pockmarks, but others are huge smooth curves and caves. The best can only be reached by sea, but this image gives an idea of how interesting the sandstone looks at low tide.

IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2013. All rights reserved