Every cloud has a silver lining!
Last night we really enjoyed our fire, but we ran out of logs too quickly! The firewood that came with Captain’s Quarters was softwood and it burned too fast. Since going out on the town is not our thing...and there is no town to go out in...and oh ya...we’re in a pandemic...we are lucky enough to have about 100 DVDs to watch here in our little cottage. We watched a really good movie last night called ‘The Reader’ with Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet. It was truly enjoyable to be able to relax in our cozy cottage and have a change of scenery from Newman in Fanny Bay!
This morning I got up very early to read all about Salt Spring Island in the tourist guide which was left for us in Captain’s Quarters. The guide also has information on the other Gulf Islands such as Galiano, Mayne, Pender and Saturna. Since we are definitely not familiar with the Gulf Islands, it was interesting to learn a bit about each of them and what makes them ‘tick’!
For example Saturna Island is only 14 nautical miles from the mainland of B.C. But travelling to Saturna Island from the mainland includes two ferry rides and one with a transfer! From Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island, the ferry is direct to Saturna. With a population of only 350 people, I guess they don’t mind the aggravation if they want to go to the mainland!
Pender is really two islands connected by a bridge. A North and a South Island. Humans have inhabited Pender for over 14,000 years with the Tseycum being some of the region’s first settlers. The Saanich people were previously nomadic and camped at various places on Pender Island to benefit from the habitat and wildlife at different locations. Now over two dozen galleries flourish on North and South Pender Island, supported by a population of 2,500 people.
Mayne Island is definitely a ‘R&R’ island. An island great for hiking, paddling and swimming. Mayne Island has a lengthy farming history from the settlers in the late 19th century, to the Japanese who established themselves as proficient farmers. At the peak of production they exported over 50,000 pounds of tomatoes every year. The original settlement of Miners Bay which was named for its role as a hub for miners en route to the Fraser Valley Gold Rush in 1859 - is still a thriving hub.
Galiano Island has more of everything except crowds, which is surprising given that it is the first stop on the Tsawwasen -Gulf Islands ferry route, a trip under an hour. More sunsets more oceanfront, more spectacular hikes, more beautiful drives, more stunning views, more places to stay and eat and more things to do. Galiano also has the most unusual festival in April called the nettle festival. October brings the blackberry festival and in February the literary festival.
We left Captain’s Quarters this morning around 9:40am to be in Ganges for 10am, in time for the Saturday morning market. We quickly arrived at Ganges and found that there was NO market today! What a disappointment! It seems that on the Island in January a lot of things close down, and with no tourists, there is no point in having a market!
We walked down to the Ganges Harbour to take a look at the boats moored there and Richard got talking to a pilot from Harbour Air.
Harbour Air plane taking off.
The pilot lives on the other side of Salt Spring Island, so he was flying the plane over to where he lives, until the next time he has to fly to Vancouver. There are usually 4 scheduled flights a day to Vancouver, but this time of year there are only 2 flights scheduled, but if no one is flying, they won’t operate.
Keegan, the pilot for Harbour Air. He has lived on Salt Spring for 4 years, flying for Harbour Air the entire time. He and his wife love it on the Island! He was telling us that Salt Spring has the only High School around so all of the other Gulf Island High School kids come via water taxis to Salt Spring. If the weather is bad, sometimes they have to stay overnight with their schoolmates if they can’t get home! He also told us that Salt Spring has had only had 1 or 2 cases of Covid 19 and the people with Covid were moved to Victoria to be cared for.
At 10am on a Saturday morning Ganges was pretty quiet. A lot of the stores were closed for the month of January, or closed because they didn’t feel like opening. We couldn’t quite figure out the closures.
We decided to visit Mouat’s Home Hardware store which was probably the largest and most imposing store in downtown Ganges.
We quickly realized that this was no regular Home Hardware store! The Mouat’s have an expression that “you can get what you want at Mouat’s”. From gardening tools, to children’s books and puzzles, art supplies and crafts, the store had it all. And we quickly realized the store was 3 levels with ‘The Housewares Store’ on the bottom level, and ‘Bed Bath and Homeware’ on the top level. We looked around for a light fixture for our sun room and while we saw some we liked, they were all to big for what we need. We did buy a candle snuffer though and a very chill “peace out” metal hand for a wall back home. The Mouat family has owned a store continuously on Salt Spring Island since 1907. In 1912 the family owned a Ford dealership on the Island and sold Model ‘T’s and other Ford vehicles for the next 30 years.
The family expanded beyond retail stores, to building other retail facilities which they lease out in town to the Post Office, Thrifty Food Market as well as the CIBC bank branch downtown Ganges. The Mouat’s also operate a gift store called ‘Old Salty’s and ‘Mouat’s clothing company’. It’s amazing that despite the passage of time, the same family has operated on Salt Spring for many, many generations as merchants!
We wandered around through the rest of Ganges shopping here and there and picked up a beautiful pottery plate and candle holder at a thrift store for $7 and $5! Beautiful second hand finds.
To give you a sense of downtown Ganges, I snapped a bunch of ‘street’ photography shots to help with the perspective on what this town looks like. Richard said the town reminded him of the downtown of Banff, Alberta, although it was not the same vibe.
Shops in a block all attached to each other.
Salt Spring Inn restaurant and hotel
Salt Fish Market. It was closed today.
CBD store in what looks like a shipping container.
Mahon Hall which opened in 1906 is the home of the Salt Spring Arts Council.
Food truck...closed until Feb 3rd.
Indigenous artwork on a fence in downtown Ganges.
Thrifty grocery store on 2 levels in downtown Ganges. So far we think this is the only grocery store from a major chain on the island.
Wind sculptures in Grace Point Square, downtown Ganges.
Boats in Ganges harbour, Salt Spring Island.
Losing my mask cause it makes my camera lens fog up!
Nice name for the boat. “Beauty Eh!”
Oops! Someone lost their boat under water!
We wanted to have a very quick lunch so we could continue to tour the island. We didn’t want to stop and sit in a restaurant although we did see a lovely spot downtown Ganges that we could imagine visiting on a nice day and sitting on their patio.
The Oystercatcher Seafood Bar & Grill with an amazing patio on the Ganges Harbour.
I thought this was a cool sign at the Oystercatcher Seafood Bar & Grill.
We found a food truck just off the main drag in Ganges and it seemed pretty popular with another couple from Ontario just ahead of us waiting for their French fries. Apparently they own a home in Toronto and have a place on Salt Spring. Much better place to be in a pandemic than Toronto!
Food truck! The fries looked devine, but we resisted today.
My salad with a chicken kabob
Richard’s chicken kabob pita.
Lunch turned out to be a big disappointment though. While it may have looked good, the chicken was awful. So much fat and no meat. I couldn’t eat my chicken and Richard took his out of his sandwich too. How disappointing. We should have ordered the yam fries instead. They smelled and looked so delicious!
Next on our agenda was the Salt spring Island Cheese Factory where we saw the goats and sheep that provide the milk for making their delicious cheeses.
Sheep at Salt Spring Island Cheese Factory.
Goats at Salt Spring Island Cheese Factory
Most days the cheese factory makes two different cheese or around 1,000 pieces in total. Chèvre or goats cheese is a 3 day process. On Day 1, the milk is pasteurized, cooled, dairy culture and rennet added and then left overnight for the acidity to develop. Day 2, the liquid milk has turned into curd. The chèvre curd for most of their cheeses is drained in cheese cups. Day 3, after the cheese has finished draining, it is turned out onto racks, salted on the other side and then refrigerated and the next day it is packaged. Salt Spring Island Cheese Factory cheese are unique because they are decorated and very beautiful to look at...and also taste amazing!
Lemon, pepper, Juliette, and tapenade. The first time we tried these cheeses was in Victoria, B.C. at the Victoria Farmers market. We loved the beautiful packaging on the cheeses. If you are interested, they will ship anywhere in the world! Their cheeses are found as far away as China and France!
Tapenade, pepper and Lemon soft goat cheese. The Factory had a great special on today. Buy 3 goat cheese and receive the Juliette cheese for free. 3 cheese were $36 which is the same price as the grocery store, but we got the Juliette cheese as a bonus for free.
We were very close to Ruckle Provincial Park after visiting the Salt Spring Island Cheese Factory, so we decided to go for a brief hike. Ruckle Provincial Park is at the South Eastern point of Salt Spring Island. Across from the park we could see Prevost Island in the foreground and the mountain peaks in the background of Galiano Island.
Prevost Island and Galliano Island peaks in the background.
I switched to my hiking boots to walk the park and I’m glad I did!
What an inviting place to sit and watch the world go by!
With no hand rail, these steps were very slippery.
North Pender in the background. This stony path was very slippery.
B.C. Ferry heading from Swartz Bay to Pender Island (Otter Bay). This ferry takes 2 hours on this route!
The weather was quite chilly at Ruckle Provincial Park even though the temperature was +6C. I think the wind off the sea was causing it to feel a lot cooler than the temperature.
We headed back towards Ganges to pick up some food for our dinner tonight in Captain’s Quarters. The roads are very dark at night on the Island and we don’t feel like eating in town anywhere and then having to drive the 20 minutes home in the dark on windy, hilly roads.
Along the way into Ganges we found a farm stand selling kindling for $5 and another farm stand selling firewood for $5. Richard made sure we had enough firewood tonight so our fire won’t run out!
I had seen 3 beautiful churches along the road to Ganges that I wanted to photograph. Each of them different, but very beautiful. There is something about the lines on an old fashioned church which lends itself to photography!
The historic St. Paul’s Church at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, B.C. This is the oldest church on the island built between 1880-1885. Founded in 1878 by Father Donckelle who was the first Roman Catholic missionary on the Gulf Islands. The windows, front door, and bell were acquired from the “Butter Church” in Cowichan Bay and brought by canoe to Burgoyne Bay. The coloured stonework was added in 1973. I’m not sure if I like the coloured stonework, but it does seem to blend with the other stones.
The Star of the Sea Anglican Church located at St. Mary’s, Fulford Harbour is a historic 1894 parish church that has been reconfigured to make it available for Anglican workshop, as well as for spiritual development for other groups.
Burgoyne United Church established in 1887 in Burgoyne, Salt Spring Island, B.C.
Now off to eat our meat, vegetable and stout pie with salad! Captain’s Quarters smells and looks amazing! Such a cozy spot and we are loving exploring Salt Spring Island! We can’t wait to get to the other side of Salt Spring tomorrow. In hindsight, we should have booked longer to visit this lovely spot...but there is no reason why we can’t come back again to finally see the Saturday morning market! Every cloud does have a silver living and while today didn’t turn out how we had planned, we loved every minute of visiting this beautiful place!
And the red wine this evening is delightful!
Vivino rates this wine top 2% in the world! Top 2% from the Okanagan! $30.35 at the B.C. Liquor store. Amazing!