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Ganges, British Columbia

Salt Spring Island – Pacific Wonderland!

Salt Spring Island is the largest of BC’s Southern Gulf Islands off the west coast of Canada. It’s located between Vancouver Island and the Mainland (city of Vancouver), just North of the US border. A rugged and whimsical paradise surrounded by Pacific Ocean.

Zoom out on the map above to see Salt Spring’s proximity to the major nearby centers (Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, and the US state of Washington)

The Villages

There are three official villages on Salt Spring. Fulford in the south, Ganges about mid-island, and Vesuvius toward the north on the west side. Each community is unique and worth a visit during your time on the island.

Climate

palmtreeThe Gulf Islands are the only place in Canada with a Mediterranean climate. This unique ecology, made possible by what is referred to as a ‘rain shadow’, means Salt Spring Island is blessed with more sun and less rain than surrounding areas. Salt Spring, and the other Southern Gulf Islands, are known to some as the Banana Belt of Canada (or the ‘Hawaii of Canada’). Because of the very un-Canadian climate, several exotic plants (i.e., kiwi vines, banana plants, palm trees, bamboo, eucalyptus, etc) grow outdoors year round in this area.

WINTER

Salt Spring WinterThe island’s special micro-climate results in only around 35 inches of rainfall per year. Annual sunlight is estimated around 2000 hours. Not bad for coastal climates! The average winter temperature is around 7°C with overnight lows rarely reaching 0°C. Snow falls occasionally in the winter-time, but an entire season without snow is not uncommon. And when it does snow on Salt Spring Island, it doesn’t last long. Our first winter here, it snowed heaps and then rained the very next day – melted ALL the snow and caused a bit of havoc around the island.

SUMMER

Hydrangeas on Salt SpringTemperatures are warm in the summer, but rarely too hot. The ocean provides a sort of natural air conditioning, keeping things comfortable – at an average of 22°C in mid-summer. Rain is sparse in the summer, and danger of forest fires is particularly high during this dry season. Fire bans are common. Water shortages are another concern and there are usually restrictions. Please be aware and respectful of these regulations.

HISTORY

THEN

Shell midden on Salt Spring IslandSalt Spring has a long history of aboriginal use, dating back over 5,000 years. There are still visible signs of life from this period (i.e., middens, petroglyphs).

In more recent history, lamb, poultry and dairy farming, as well as fishing and logging were the main industries that sustained Island residents. For more on the rich history of this island, have a look at… Salt Spring: The Story of an Island by Charles Kahn

NOW

Tourism, construction and the arts are the predominant industries today. The island has become well known for it’s eclectic Saturday Market, filled with items crafted, grown, or baked by local residents. An abundance of Bed & Breakfast’s, cottage rentals, and guest homes are available for visitors.

THE PEOPLE

A diverse mix of talents and personalities make up the population of just around 10,000. Many residents are artists, musicians, and designers, or crafters of some description. A collection of their works are featured in home studios, or one of the local galleries or eclectic shops. Some of the more established artists have their work available nationally and internationally.

An incredible range of holistic practitioners make their home on Salt Spring Island. Whatever your body, mind or soul needs, there is a treatment offered for it. Conservation is a major focus for Islanders and should be on the minds of visitors as well. Learn more about the endangered species and wildlife conservation efforts around Salt Spring.

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