Posted by: cherylyoung | February 5, 2012



Tranquil and bucolic, Denman Island and Hornby Island sit just off


the east coast of Vancouver Island.


    Denman Island is the larger of the two,knowen for its pastoral farmlands

 and its population of talented artisans.

Separated from Vancouver Island by narrow Baynes Sound, Denman Island

 is fertile, low-lying and lush.


 Its beautiful sandstone and gravel shores teem with life: oysters,

 rock crabs, clams, eagles, seabirds and black-tailed deer.


Denman was once known as Punchlatt Island, and the Inner Island,

by the Puntledge First Nations who set up summer camps on the island,

 gathering clams and berries, and fishing and hunting.


Deer were caught by herding them into the water where hunters

 waited in canoes.

The first European settlement on Denman Island was in 1874.


 The island was named after Rear Admiral Joseph Denman,

 Commander-in-Chief,  Pacific Station, 1864-6.


The island was allegedly nicknamed “Little Orkney” by the settlers

 who came from the Orkney Islands, an archipelago on the

northern tip of Scotland.


These Gulf Islands are a holdover from a distant time when the entire

 Strait of Georgia was filled with sand.


In more recent geological times, glaciation gouged out the trench

 that is now filled with seawater.

Because of certain inhibiting conditions – lack of water and garbage

 facilities,  as well as tinder-dry forests in summer months –

many islands have no public campgrounds.


 In most places, private accommodation must be arranged.


 In summer, reservations are highly recommended.

 However, there are  public campgrounds on Denman Island.

The islands have attractive parks – especially for picnickers – located

 where you can take best advantage of the seaside environment.


Whether you’re on Denman Island just for the day or have made

 arrangements for private overnight accommodation, you’ll want to

head for these parks to complement your visit.

Population: 1,100

Location: Denman Island is located off the eastern shore of central

Vancouver Island, opposite Buckley Bay, 12 miles (20 km) south of

Courtenay and one hour north of Nanaimo.


BC Ferries operates  vehicle and passenger scheduled ferry

 service from  Buckley Bay to Denman Island.


 Daily 15-minute ferry rides land visitors  on Denman Island,

where the friendly village features a turn-of-the-century

 grocery store and a co-operative showcase for local arts and crafts.


 From Denman Island you can take a connecting ferry to

 nearby Hornby Island.


Since many roads are paved and traffic is light, cycling is an

 ideal  way to get around – scooter rentals are also available.


Stroll down a country lane, bask in the unspoiled countryside

 and of wildflowers or explore hidden coves along the sunny coastline.


The Denman Island Art Gallery is located above the Denman Island

 Senior’s Hall, opens for a lively series of summer art exhibitions.


On the long weekend in May, embark on the popular pottery tour

 and discover the heart of rural Denman life.


The Home and Garden Tour is Denman Island’s most popular event!

 Don’t miss this once a year opportunity to visit some of the

 West Coast’s most inspirational properties.


Windy Marsh Farm is a wonderful  stand located on the route from

 Fillongley to Boyle Point Provincial Park where you will find a selection

 or organic fruits and vegetables along with a quaint gallery of

 folk art at “Artwork on Old Things”.

Denman offers good salmon fishing.

 Chickadee and Graham Lakes offer good trout fishing.

Fillongley Provincial Park, on Lambert Channel, has 10 campsites and

 is not particularly large, so it fills up quickly in July and August.


 There is no telling in advance whether you’ll find room here.

The campground is located in a forested setting on the east side

about 2.5 miles (4 km) from the ferry dock to Vancouver Island. 

 Campsites are packed together with only concrete dividers to separate

 them, the sand and pebble beach that fronts the park is spacious and

 provides ample opportunity for exploring and, in season, hunting for

 shellfish for dinner.  

A forested trail leads through Boyle Point Regional Park at the south

 end of East Road on Denman Island.


 Although not a lengthy walk, this 1-mile excursion will give

 your legs a good workout, and you will be rewarded at the end 

with views of Hornby Island (the ferry from Gravelly Bay on Denman to

 Shingle Bay on Hornby is a short distance north of the park) as well

as the  strategically located lighthouse on Chrome Island just offshore.


 Cliffs precipitously drop off below the lookout at trail’s end, and you

 may not be tempted to follow a rough route down to the shoreline.

 One noticeable difference between the waters of the north and south 

 is the presence of sea urchins around Boyle Point, but not at

 Longbeak Point and the waters around Sandy Island Marine Park.


There are several places around the northern straits where a canoe

 is just as handy as a kayak to reach one of the Marine Provincial parks.


 For example, you can paddle from Denman Island to nearby

 Sandy Island Marine Provincial Park.


 On a calm day it is possible to launch from the wharf at Buckley Bay on

 Vancouver Island, cross Baynes Sound to the west side of Denman, and then

 make your way north to the park.

You can reduce your paddling time by taking the 10-minute ferry ride

 to Denman, then launching from there.


 Paddling distance from Denman’s ferry dock to Sandy Island is about

 6 miles (10 km); half that if you launch from the public beach access

 farther north on Denman.


 To reach this location, follow Northwest Road to Gladstone Way,

 and park at the west end of Gladstone.


 A trail winds a short distance to the beach.

 If the tide is out you’ll have to carry your canoe or kayak over

 oyster-encrusted rocks to reach the ocean.

Wear beach shoes and tread carefully to avoid damaging shellfish.

The park is less than a 2-mile (3-km) paddle from here.

Wildlife: As you make your way you may well be accompanied

by seals, dolphins, or loons.

Tall blue herons stand posted like sentries on the rocky outcroppings

 exposed at low tide.

 A long spit of land – Longbeak Point – curves out from Denman

 towards Sandy Island and provides a calming breakwater.

 As soon as you set foot on Sandy Island and a clam kneecaps you with

 a jet of  seawater, you’ll experience the magic of the place

 Underfoot, small mussels the colour of lapis lazuli keep company with

 bleached geoduck, scallop, and oyster shells. Black & white sand dollars,

 enough to retire the national debt, stand banked up against the rest.

 Shorebirds in the hundreds work the waters for their meals.

At low tide, deer emerge from nearby Denman’s forests to nibble at

 moss growing on fallen logs, occasionally crossing between the 2 islands.

As you explore Sandy Island, you’ll see matted evidence of deer beds

 in the long grass.

 In the evening the lights of Comox and Courtenay twinkle over on

 Vancouver Island, and overhead, as the last light fades from the peaks

 of the Vancouver Island Mountains, the stars begin to appear like popcorn,

 first one then another, and finally a barrage from the Milky Way as it

spreades  out like sea foam.

Sandy Island Marine Provincial Park is located so close to the north

end of  Denman  Island that at low tide you can wade to the park

 from the tip of Longbeak Point.

 At the centre of Sandy Island (or Tree Island ) a mighty stand

 of Douglas fir shelters a small number of rustic campsites.

Bring your own water and cookstove as fires are not allowed.

 When you sleep, cushioned by the sand, you’ll enjoy a contentment known

by  adventurers who, having made the effort, find safe haven in nature.





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