Posted by: cherylyoung | February 4, 2012

The Pender Island, one of the Jewels that make up the Gulf Islands, part of the Vancouver islands B.C

 
Pender Islands
 North and South Pender Islands, the second most populous of the

southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia, are separated by a canal and 

 united by a bridge.

 

The islands in the Strait of Georgia were once joined by a wide neck

of land known as the Indian Portage.

 

 A narrow canal was dredged in 1903 to benefit steamship travel

through the Gulf Islands, and the islands remained separated until

a one-lane bridge was built in 1955.

 

While most people simply refer to Pender Island in the singular, there

 are two islands  with a combined area of about 34 square kilometres.

 Much of the land is green and rural, but a massive subdivision on

 North Pender was one of the catalysts for the creation of the

watchdog  Islands Trust in the 1970s, as Gulf Islanders worried that

similar development could spell an end to the islands’ charm.

 

Today, with a balmy sub-Mediterranean climate, seven parks, and over

 20 clearly-marked public beach accesses, these friendly rural islands

are fabulous for family vacations, romantic escapes, seminars,

and retreats.

 The population is decidedly residential, so don’t expect too many

 restaurants, lodgings, or shops. South Pender is less settled, with

fewer roads and wilder vegetation

 

About 90% of the islands’ 2,000 permanent residents live on

 North Pender, mainly around Magic Lake, comprising of mainly

young families, retirees, and a large number of business professionals

who work in Victoria,  Vancouver, and farther afield.

The Penders have no village or town centre, although the Driftwood

Centre serves as the island’s business centre.

 

At The Drift you’ll find the Post Office, Liquor Store, pharmacy,

 gas station, bank, bakery, grocery store, and other shops and services.

 

 Other businesses are located at Port Washington, Hope Bay, and at the

 three marinas,  and a few others are dotted along the country roads

 alongside the farmstands.

You’ll enjoy the laid-back pace of the Pender Islands as you bask in

 the unspoiled countryside of woods and wildflowers, or explore hidden

 bays and coves along the beautiful coastline – once the haunts of

smugglers who ran rum between here and the nearby American

 San Juan Islands during Prohibition.

 

The Penders are primarily a rural community, with open farmland,

 rolling forested hills and several lakes.

 Cruising the narrow, twisting lanes in search of familiar landmarks,

 does, however, afford a glimpse of the island’s charming, bucolic

landscape of old frame houses, farms, orchards, and turn-of-the-century

 heritage sites.

 

The mild climate and pristine wilderness make the Pender Islands perfect

for recreation, and in summer, the island population doubles when

seasonal  residents and visitors arrive to cycle, hike, cruise, golf,

fish, kayak, or just relax at one of the resorts or B&Bs.

 

Population: 2,000

Location: Otter Bay Ferry Terminal on North Pender Island is the terminal

 for ferries from both Swartz Bay (near Victoria on Vancouver Island)

 and Tsawwassen on the BC mainland.

 

Scooters and bicycles are available for rental to visitors that arrive on

 foot and wish to explore the islands.

 

 Cyclists should note that the island roads have many hills,

although not too steep.

 

Regular float plane services are available from Victoria, Vancouver,

 Saltspring Island, and Seattle. Many visitors travel to the Gulf Islands

 by private boat.

 

. If you’re arriving from the United States by boat, there’s a convenient

 Canada Customs office at Poets Cove Marina in Bedwell Harbour

 on South Pender Island.

 Boaters can choose from many marinas, government docks and

 quiet anchorages. 

 

The Pender Islands Museum offers a glimpse into the past of the Island

 Located at 2408 Otter Bay Road, in the Roe House at Roesland, one of the

properties that form the Gulf Islands National Park.

Shop for local arts and crafts at the many shops, studios, and private

 galleris dotted around the Islands that are open to visitors.

 

 Many artists display their wares in central galleries, one of which

is located at Port Washington.

 

North Pender’s popular Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday from

 Easter to November at the Community Agricultural Hall.

 

 The market offers fresh produce, prepared foods, and locally made

 art and crafts.

 

 The Fall Fair is the biggest event of the year, held in the

Community Agricultural Hall every August.

 

 The fair features displays, floral contests, activities for children,

 live entertainment, an art exhibition, and a dance.

 

 Regardless of the time of year, there’s always something happening.

Craft fairs, poetry readings, book launches, gallery tours, theatrical

 events, and workshops, to mention a few.

Pender Island Portage, formerly the neck of land connecting today’s islands,

had an ancient trail over which First Nations people portaged their canoes

between Port Browning and Bedwell Harbour.

 

 First Nations people lived here from 2,000 to 6,000 years ago, calling the

 isthmus connecting the islands Helisen, meaning lying between.

It was an encampment used for harvesting the food resources  nearby

 waters and beaches.

 

 Pioneer settlers later dragged their boats on skids for visits between

the scattered island families, or to shorten the journey to Sidney

 by sail and row boat.

 

 In 1903 the Federal government dug the canal that today divides

 Pender Island.

 

In the summer, a Canadian Customs Port office  operates

 on the wharf at Poets Cove Marina in Bedwell Harbour

 on South Pender Island.

 

 Boaters will find three marinas; Otter Bay Marina, Port Browning

 Marina, and Bedwell Harbour Marina, as well as government wharves

at Hope Bay, Browning Harbour and Port Washington.

  The Pender Islands offers hundreds of bays and beaches to explore

along the 38 miles (61 km) of coastline.

Kayakers wishing to paddle to the popular and easy-to-reach

 Beaumont Marine Park in Bedwell Harbour can launch from Medicine

Beach on North Pender, and the government dock at Bedwell Bay on

South Pender.

 

Allow 30 minutes to make the 1-mile (1.6-km) paddle from either location.

 

For those who come with car-top or hand-carried boats, there are places

to launch in the Penders. Suitable locations include Grimmer Bay,

 Hope Bay, Port Browning, and Miracle Beach on North Pender Island,

and Bedwell Harbour  and Gowlland Point, at the foot of Craddock Road,

 on South Pender Island.

 

 Nearby paddle destinations include the western shores of Pender Island,

 and Portland and Prevost Islands, both of which boast marine parks.

 

Ocean kayaking lessons and guides knowledgeable about local wildlife

 and waterfowl  are available throughout the year.

 

Hiking: Hiking trails cross Mt. Norman Park, Beaumont Marine Park,

 and Mt. Elizabeth Park, and trails can also be found at Prior Centennial

Park, Mt. George, Mt. Menzies, Oak Bluffs, and the Magic Lake Estates.

 

Hikers  can explore many easy trails, but the most strenuous hike

 is the climb of Mount Norman.

 

 At Roesland, a footbridge leads out to a short trail and a viewpoint on the

picturesque Roe Islet, and a trail through second-growth Douglas fir fores

t above Shingle Bay leads to Roe Lake.

 

Diving: The Tilly Point Caves offer a popular shore dive at Tilley Point

in Boundary Pass, at the southern tip of South Pender Island.

 

The main cave is 3 metres (10 feet) wide, 15 metres (50 feet) long, and

covered with white plumous anemones on three sides.

 

 Access is off the end of Craddock Road. As with most dives, this dive is

 best undertaken when visibility is good.

 

One of the best beaches on the Pender Islands is at Mortimer Spit, close

 to the canal between the two islands.

 A snout of sand juts out into Navy Channel providing plenty of room and

 few visitors to share the beach with you. Another popular spot is just to

 the north

 at Hamilton Beach at Port Browning.

 

You’ll find a more festive atmosphere here in summer, with a pub,

marina, cafe, and picnic tables beside the beach.

 

On the far shore, visible from Hamilton, is a sandy strip of beach at

 Razor Point.

 

Take Bedwell Bay Road south from the ferry dock at Otter Bay to reach

Hamilton Beach.

 

 Follow Razor Point Road east of Port Browning to find the small beach

on the point.

 

There are public swimming pools at Bedwell Harbour, Otter Bay Marina,

and Port Browning.

 

 The public dock at Magic Lake is a popular local swimming hole for

children, and more secluded swimming can be enjoyed at pristine Roe Lake.

 

Beaumont Marine Park, nestled below the bluffs of Mount Norman, is

one of the most popular marine parks in the Gulf Islands, with rustic

 paddle or boat-in campsites.

 

 The campground is provided for kayakers and walk-in campers who

undertake the challenging 2.5-km hike from Ainsley Point Road.

 

The forested campsites at Prior Centennial Park may be easily

accessible, but the oceanside setting of Beaumont is tops.

 

Medicine Beach Nature Sanctuary protects one of the last wetlands

in the Southern Gulf Islands, a rarity in the dry climate of the Gulf Islands.

 

 The 8-hectare (20-acre) protected sanctuary on Bedwell Harbour is home

 

 to the endangered Virginia rail, and many other species of birds and

animals,and features a beach, coastal bluffs, and an upland forest.

 The Coast Salish people used plants from the area for medicinal purposes,

 hence its name. Enjoy picknicking, walking up the bluff, and beachcombing

at Medicine Beach.

 

The Golf Island Disc Park on North Pender Island features 27 holes and

 winds its way over and around a rocky hill just to the north of Magic Lake.

 

The location of the frisbee golf course, with its many trees and bumpy

 landscape, makes for an exciting game and a wonderful walk in the woods.

Island Hopping
Travelling between the Southern Gulf Islands and Northern Gulf Islands

 can be accomplished in small hops.

Each of these islands is a world unto itself, each with its own history,culture

 and colourful characters – each island deserves at least a day or two for exploring.

       CHERYL YOUNG, REALTOR,

SAANICH PENINSULA REALTY

SIDNEY  BC.  www.cherylyoung.ca

  www.facebook.com/cherylcyoung

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