About Gabriola Island
The most northerly of the southern Gulf Islands, situated between Vancouver Island and the Strait of Georgia (see map) Gabriola Island offers mild gulf island climate, beautiful surroundings, a friendly and active community of about 5000 islanders, ample shopping, and tremendous recreational opportunities. Golf, tennis, cycling, kayaking, fishing, beach walks, bird watching, swimming, marinas and miles of trails. Mt Washington Ski Resort is just two hours away and offers both downhill and cross country skiing.
Gabriola Island is 20 minutes by ferry from Nanaimo (hourly service from 6am to 11pm). Nanaimo has exceptional shopping, Vancouver Island University, The Port Theatre and all that a thriving city can offer. From Nanaimo it is an hour and a half drive to Victoria, a city that delights tourists and locals alike; or less than 2 hours by ferry to Vancouver, a large and exciting city in a setting of great natural beauty. Or take the floatplane from Silva Bay, on Gabriola Island, to the Vancouver airport in just minutes.
Gabriola Island offers the perfect blend for those who wish to be closer to nature, not further from civilization.
A Brief History of Gabriola
Gabriola and its neighbouring Gulf islands were home to the Snuneymux people for at least 2000 years. Almost 80 petroglyphs, pictures carved in rock, have been found – earning Gabriola the nickname “Petroglyph Island.” The oldest petroglyphs are estimated to date back 1000-5000 years.
The first non-native contact with the Snuneymux was with the Spanish Navy when they visited the Gulf Islands in 1791-92. By the 1860’s non-native settlements had been established on Gabriola and relations between the settlers and natives were friendly.
During the early 1900’s Gabriola became a favourite summer recreational destination – private land owners began to build small cottages near the beach for summer getaways. By the 1970’s Gabriola had been substantially subdivided in anticipation of residential development.
Throughout the last few decades the population of Gabriola has grown from approximately 350 to the now 5000 with development increasing and more substantial homes being built as people move to the islands to retire, start businesses or to commute to Nanaimo.
Although Gabriola has developed considerably from its original state the island retains its natural beauty and continues to deliver peace and quiet to its residents.