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Vancouver Island

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vancouver Island
LocationPacific Ocean, on Canada's southern west coast.
Coordinates49°30′N 125°30′W / 49.500°N 125.500°W / 49.500; -125.500[1]
Area31,285 km2 (12,079 sq mi)
Area rank43rd
Highest elevation2,195 m (7,201 ft)
Highest pointGolden Hinde[2]
ProvinceBritish Columbia
Largest settlementSaanich (city proper), Victoria (metropolitan area) (pop. 108,265 in Saanich; 344,615 in Greater Victoria[3])
Population775,347[4] (2016)
Pop. density23.94 /km2 (62 /sq mi)
Vancouver Island is separated from mainland British Columbia by the Strait of Georgia and Queen Charlotte Strait, and from Washington by the Juan De Fuca Strait.
Vancouver Island is separated from mainland British Columbia by the Strait of Georgia and Queen Charlotte Strait, and from Washington by the Juan De Fuca Strait.

Vancouver Island is in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The island is 460 kilometres (290 mi) in length, 100 kilometres (62 mi) in width at its widest point,[5] and 32,134 km2 (12,407 sq mi) in area. It is the largest island on the West Coast of North America.

The southern part of Vancouver Island and some of the nearby Gulf Islands are the only parts of British Columbia or Western Canada to lie south of the 49th Parallel. This area has one of the warmest climates in Canada, and since the mid-1990s has been mild enough in a few areas to grow subtropical Mediterranean crops such as olives and lemons.[6]

Vancouver Island had a population in 2016 of 775,347.[4] Nearly half of that figure (367,770) live in the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria. Other notable cities and towns on Vancouver Island include Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Parksville, Courtenay, and Campbell River. Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, is located on the island, but the larger city of Vancouver is not – it is on the North American mainland, across the Strait of Georgia from Nanaimo.

Vancouver Island has been the homeland to many indigenous peoples for thousands of years.[7] The island was explored by British and Spanish expeditions in the late 18th century. It was named Quadra's and Vancouver's Island in commemoration of the friendly negotiations held in 1792 by Spanish commander of the Nootka Sound settlement, Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, and by British naval captain George Vancouver, during the Nootka Crisis. Bodega y Quadra's name was eventually dropped from the name. It is one of several North American locations named after George Vancouver, who explored the Pacific Northwest coast between 1791 and 1794.

Vancouver Island is the world's 43rd largest island, Canada's 11th largest island, and Canada's second most populous island after the Island of Montreal. It is the largest Pacific island anywhere east of New Zealand.[nb 1]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Insiders Guide to Vancouver Island 2018 - Full Length Feature in HD
  • ✪ Vancouver Island, BC, Canada - TOP 9 Activities and Places
  • ✪ The Worst WIND STORM in Years | Vancouver Island BC
  • ✪ Tofino Hot Spring Cove - Vancouver, Island Adventure


Vancouver Island is an oasis of nature shaped by its geography Vancouver Island is a natural balance of ocean ecosystems coastal rain forests Mountains and Human habitation, there is a mystical quality found here that evokes a sense of balance that is drenched in life Our island visit starts in the city of Victoria, British, Columbia The harbour of Victoria is one of the most beautiful harbors in the world in my opinion We have the Parliament Buildings the legislative buildings right in the background One of the things that's really interesting is the capital city of British Columbia is right here on Vancouver Island the city of Victoria And it's got an incredible amount of history and against the the reason that there's some great art architecture And really interesting buildings to to see in and around the city As well as the grand old Empress Hotel But also a great walkway along the harbor where visitors can walk a Good amount of the distance seeing what's happening out in the harbor which is always very active between little pickle boats running around and float planes taking off The Royal British Columbia Museum near the harbour has a collection of totem poles carved in the styles of Aboriginal peoples from throughout, British, Columbia If you listen closely you can almost hear the ancient tribal whispers Built between 1887 and 1890 craig derek castle was constructed for a Scottish immigrant named Robert Dunsmuir Who made his fortune in the coal industry? It's a marvelous accomplishment built from stone and fine wood finished interiors Craig Derrick stands proud with its exquisite grounds overlooking the city of Victoria a Visit to Craig Derek Castle is like going back in time Aptly named after the two beacons on mount beacon beacon hill park is a Nature retreat right in the heart of Victoria with a colorful history starting in the 1860s the 200 acre park was turned over to the city in 1882 and has been in trust every since the abundance of life and peaceful flowing waters are a retreat for the soul a Visit to Victoria would not be complete without seeing a horse-drawn carriage winding its way through the park The park has become home and habitat to many animals such as turtles many different kinds of waterfowl The manicured gardens are home to hundreds of plant species many considered threatened or endangered Beacon Hill Park is also home to the graceful Blue Heron who nest in the park safe haven Fisherman's Wharf is one of Victoria harbors most interesting destinations Visitors will enjoy the unique floating homes that each have their own distinctive style There are great restaurants on the docks fresh seafood and some of the local residents are extremely entertaining There are great views of downtown Victoria and the Empress Hotel from this vantage point A trip to Vancouver Island and Victoria would not be complete without a visit to the world-famous Butchart Gardens which our gardens has existed for over a hundred years it began in 1904 and By Jenny Butchart, Butchart gardens are still owned by the Butchart family So it's now the great great granddaughter of Jenny Butchart. Who began it is now the current current owner of the gardens. We are a floral garden where a show garden We build it on the whole idea that people are going to say WOW when they come here and probably say it a number of times. The area of Butchart gardens that is best known for is a sunken garden Where that was the quarry the limestone was removed from that and Jenny Butchart was one of the very early pioneers in kind of? greening things up Duncan is a pedestrian-friendly Walkable community with a mix of art and architectural history that brings you back in time downtown feels like something out of an old movie with that small-town inviting feel The old railway station is still in use as a travel hub for visitors and residents What Duncan may be best known for is its tour of the totem poles of which it has many Just follow the yellow footprints in you're headed in the right direction Chemainus is world-renowned for its larger-than-life murals Faced with a failing natural resource industry Chemainus reinvented itself through art and lots of it Take a stroll through the historical downtown and take in the many wall murals that Chemainus is known for And if you're lucky you'll even get to experience a bit of the local flavor Ladysmith like so many Vancouver island communities has a history that you can still feel to this day The railway and coal industry were central to lady smith's beginnings The town is known for its historical stretch of buildings that look like something out of a postcard We've got some coastline to cover so it's time to start moving up Island Located 111 kilometers north of Victoria is Nanaimo the harbour City. The waterfront is busy with naval civilian and seaplane activity The seawall and the nearby islands make for splendid ocean views Right in the heart of the action is Maffeo, Sutton Park with miles of seawall pathways This is a pedestrian friendly way to explore Nanaimo oceanfront and Harbour. acres of greenery reward your eyes and the smell of the fresh ocean air piques your senses Nanaimo has a delightful marina with ample shopping and restaurants Visitors can take a leisurely ferry ride out to nearby prospect island to the world-famous dingy dock pub and restaurant This completely floating restaurant is a unique and tasty midpoint on a short and enjoyable tour of the area Heading north we come to the picturesque community of Qualicum Beach This area is known for its long stretches of beach and brilliant sunsets It's time to visit the western side of the island On our way to Tofino, and Ucluelet we come across the village of Coombs Coombs has some unique shops, you won't find anywhere else And you have to look up to see what Coombs is really known for Where else would you see a family of billy goats living in a roof these characters certainly know how to put on a show Some of the oldest growth forests Canada can be found here in the Cathedral Groves of Macmillan Provincial Park Towering Giants over 800 years old soar overhead with an ancient and commanding presence It's impossible to witness these impressive Giants and not be struck with a sense of humility Loop Trails take you through douglas-fir Western hemlock and red cedar rain forests seething with the presence of life This is a magical and spiritual place that will immerse you in well-being and give you a sense of place in a natural world Steeped in the wisdom of the Ancients On the unprotected west coast of Vancouver Island the true power of the Pacific Ocean comes into play Powerful waves and strong ocean winds have shaped a landscape that is rugged and twisted from the search The village of Ucluelet sits on the edge of Pacific Rim National Park Rugged ocean hikes take you along the edge of rainforests meaning into the surf Tidepools abound with sea life and lets you get up close without getting wet Starfish Sea anemone and many other sea creatures within reach and bring out the curious in all of us Continuing along Pacific Rim National Park, we head towards Tofino Here the land meets the surging ocean head-on Forests are shaped by the elements where only the strong survive Powerful winds big waves make this a Surfers Paradise Long Beach is an ideal place to walk along the beach or try your luck in the waves Here power meets beauty in a dance that has been happening for a millennia The town of Tofino suits on the protected inside edge of the peninsula, surrounded by islands and common lands With up to 1 million visitors a year Tofino is one of Vancouver Island's most visited places The views here are incredible and like many places on the island There's lots of water plane activity taking people to and from adventures Tofino definitely has a surfer town feel you'll see many vehicle sporting surfboards Even the ubiquitous Volkswagen van. It may get busy here, but it still feels like a small town Whale watching is a popular activity here Jaime's whaling station is a great launching pad for whale watching adventures with professional guides and state-of-the-art boats It's a safe and enjoyable way to look for whales and with over 22,000 gray whales visiting the area every year Chances are pretty good. You'll spot one As the day winds to an end make sure you head to the beach the sunsets here are simply unreal Let's continue up to the northern tip of Vancouver Island The drive-up island is one of the most interesting parts of visiting, Vancouver Island First stop, Campbell River the Gateway to the north Campbell River is a beautiful Oceanside city that still has a small-town feel Located midpoint on the eastern side of Vancouver Island, this is a community connected to the ocean with quaint marinas scenic beaches and an abundant marine ecosystem The salmon fishing capital of the world as they call themselves has become a major ecotourism destination with activities like whale and bear watching And started to get the bear watching trips four years ago when we started the company up With the idea of taking people up to do it Inlet because of the reputation up there Has a pretty long history of being a real popular bear spot. We've been fortunate enough to do have some real good success over the last four years and Lots of people going in there and experiencing the Bears and everything that goes along with them, so it's been fabulous for Our trip starts on the state-of-the-art boat built specifically for Discovery marine safaris the tenacious three The trip to Bute Inlet takes about two hours Our certified experienced guide tells us about the wildlife. We'll encounter along the way The voyage is scenic and enjoyable On this trip the water provides many wildlife sightings such as sea lions And a group of dolls porpoise that took some time to playfully ride the bow of our boat They really look like they were having fun As we pull into the Bute Inlet we enter the territory of our hosts the Hamalco Nation band These experienced native guides take us by minibus to raised bear watching Platforms where we can safely watch the Grizzlies hunting for salmon This male is walking in the water to get a better view These two salmon don't want to be lunch just yet This is an annual feast that Bears have been making for thousands of years salmon are high in protein and fat Which is a great chance to fatten up for the coming winter hibernation? And here a mom with two cubs passes through cautiously She senses the male's presence and decides to go somewhere else to fish The Cubs are vulnerable to attacks by males at this age, so it's best just to move on We move up River, and there's yet another male he sees something moving in the water Success Another female bear with a single cub passes through the same area This little cub is tired and decides to take a short break It's not long before mom says it's time to move on These picturesque valleys are another example of the abundance of life on the canadian west coast If You drive up island to where the pavement ends you're in Port Hardy The small town sits on the edge of Cape Scott Provincial Park, and is a gateway to many other adventures Rotary Park is a great place for an evening stroll and a view of one of Vancouver's most interesting town signs This is a place where people are connected to the elements Logging and fishing are the major industries here, and there's a feeling here that is uniquely, Vancouver Island And because it's more remote, there's a very good chance of seeing black bears and bald eagles up here You just haven't seen Vancouver Island unless you've made it up island here for a visit and Sunrise here is particularly beautiful Heading back down island not far from Port Hardy a winding road takes you to the town of Port Alice We arrived on a particularly foggy day, but this was a blessing. There is a spirit here You can only experience on the island in just this type of weather Looking out into the dreamscape of water and fading islands my seal pops its head up for a visit in The stillness of this morning with just the two of us there our mutual curiosity was quite enlightening Our last visit on the island is the picturesque village of Telegraph Cove visiting here is literally like going back in time the old lovingly restored buildings sit up high perched on the docks with a history going back to the 1920s What was historically a fish cannery in lumber mill has turned into one of Vancouver Island's most beloved Destinations the boardwalks here bring you back in time and take you away from the worries of the outside world The whale museum in telegraph cove is one of the most interesting places you will ever get to visit You can see full well skeletons up close and get a sense of the mammal that evolution has taken to the seas There is an abundance of information here So spend some time and take it in there are skeletons for many marine mammals here such as orca dolphin and even a giant fin whale Vancouver Island's oldest and environmentally ethical whale-watching companies calls telegraph cove home Stubs island whale-watching is owned and operated by Jim and Mary Borromini will built a reputation for responsible wildlife viewing that has true Educational merit Jim has worked for 30 years to protect the whales through responsible practices in education Both her grandsons and her granddaughter's Sometimes a killer will family may even have four generations with great grandchildren traveling with the group as well It's a magical world for them. Everything they do is with sound they navigate they find their food They stay in touch with their family, and they find their mates all using sounds underwater our whale watching adventure begins on the Gikumi, a lovingly restored boat originally built in 1954 to the owner of the telegraph cove sawmill This wooden vessel with its natural warmth is just another piece of history that brings you back in time She has a way with the water that feels so natural We're very fortunate to have Jim as our captain's Stubbs Islands other vessel to Luke hua is heading out with us - she's newer and more technologically advanced But she still has a spirit about her that is uniquely telegram Cove This is a very steady platform to view Wales from and a pleasure to be on Whales have been spotted and the radio comes to life with reports from other boats We respect the creature space and never get too close with Our engines turned off these giants come in closer for a visit These resident orcas are beautiful and travel as a family unit led by female matriarchs These pods have been together for a very long time and even have their own unique dialects These powerful males have long or shaped dorsal fins that are unique as fingerprints and help researchers identify them with great accuracy These top marine predators are hunting for salmon and are very successful group hunters A little further up the coast and we're fortunate enough to see a humpback The signature tail fluke comes up just before the whale goes down for longer dive Canada's Pacific west coast is a magical ecosystem where Mankind and nature have found a balance that you won't find anywhere else Here power meets grace and a dance that has been going on between the mountains in the ocean for a millennium To visit the west coast is a life-changing experience that will give you a sense of balance in an ever-changing world As the Sun lowers into the ocean one can't help, but think this is where Beauty goes to rest You



Indigenous peoples

Vancouver Island has been the homeland to many indigenous peoples for thousands of years.[7] The groupings, by language, are the Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and various Coast Salish peoples. Kwakwaka'wakw territory includes northern and northwestern Vancouver Island and adjoining areas of the mainland, the Nuu-chah-nulth span most of the west coast, while the Coast Salish cover the southeastern Island and southernmost extremities along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Their cultures are connected to the natural resources abundant in the area.


A Kwakwaka'wakw wedding ceremony in 1914
A Kwakwaka'wakw wedding ceremony in 1914

The Kwakwaka'wakw today number about 5,500, who live in British Columbia on northern Vancouver Island and the mainland. They are also known as Kwakiutl in English, from one of their tribes, but they prefer their autonym Kwakwaka'wakw. Their indigenous language, part of the Wakashan family, is Kwak'wala. The name Kwakwaka'wakw means "speakers of Kwak'wala". The language is now spoken by less than 5% of the population—about 250 people. Today 17 separate tribes make up the Kwakwaka'wakw. Some Kwakwaka'wakw groups are now extinct. Kwak'wala is a Northern Wakashan language, a grouping shared with Haisla, Heiltsuk and Wuikyala. Kwakwaka'wakw centres of population on Vancouver Island include communities such as Fort Rupert, Alert Bay and Quatsino, The Kwakwaka'wakw tradition of the potlatch was banned by the federal government of Canada in 1885, but has been revived in recent decades.


The Nuu-chah-nulth (pronounced [nuːʧanˀuɬ], or approximately "new-cha-nulth") are indigenous peoples in Canada. Their traditional home is on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In pre-contact and early post-contact times, the number of nations was much greater, but as in the rest of the region, smallpox and other consequences of contact resulted in the disappearance of some groups, and the absorption of others into neighbouring groups.

They were among the first Pacific peoples north of California to come into contact with Europeans, as the Spanish, Americans and British attempted to secure control of Pacific Northwest and the trade in otter pelts, with Nootka Sound becoming a focus of these rivalries. The Nuu-chah-nulth speak a Southern Wakashan language and are closely related to the Makah of the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State and Ditidaht.

Coast Salish

The Coast Salish are the largest of the southern groups. They are a loose grouping of many tribes with numerous distinct cultures and languages. On Vancouver Island, Coast Salish peoples territory traditionally spans from the northern limit of the Gulf of Georgia on the inside of Vancouver Island and covering most of southern Vancouver Island. Distinct nations within the Coast Salish peoples on Vancouver Island include the Chemainus, the Comox of the Comox Valley area, the Cowichan of the Cowichan Valley, the Esquimalt, the Saanich of the Saanich Peninsula, the Songhees of the Victoria area and Snuneymuxw in the Nanaimo area.

European exploration

Europeans began to explore the island in 1774, when rumours of Russian fur traders caused Spain to send a number of expeditions to assert its long-held claims to the Pacific Northwest. The first expedition was that of the Santiago, under the command of Juan José Pérez Hernández. In 1775, a second Spanish expedition under the Spanish Peruvian captain Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra was sent. By 1776 Spanish exploration had reached Bucareli Bay including the mouth of the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, and Sitka Sound.

Vancouver Island came to the attention of Britain after the third voyage of Captain James Cook, who spent a month during 1778 at Nootka Sound, on the island's western coast. Cook claimed it for Great Britain. The island's rich fur-trading potential led the fur trader John Meares to set up a single-building trading post near the native village of Yuquot (Friendly Cove), at the entrance to Nootka Sound. The building was removed by the end of 1788.

The island was further explored by Spain in 1789 with Esteban José Martínez, who established the settlement of Yuquot and the artillery battery of Fort San Miguel at Friendly Cove, which Spain called Puerto de San Lorenzo de Nuca. This was to be the only Spanish settlement in what would later be Canada. Asserting their claim of exclusive sovereignty and navigation rights, the Spanish force seized the Portuguese-flagged British ships. The two nations came close to war in the ensuing Nootka Crisis, but the issues were resolved peacefully with the first Nootka Convention in 1790, in which both countries recognized the other's rights to the area. The terms of the convention called for Spain to turn over to Britain the buildings and land that had been seized in 1789. For this purpose the British naval captain George Vancouver was sent to Nootka Sound in 1792. His Spanish counterpart in the negotiations was Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, who was commandant of Santa Cruz de Nuca in 1792. Vancouver had sailed as a midshipman with Cook. The negotiations between Vancouver and Bodega y Quadra ended in a deadlock with nothing resolved. Vancouver insisted the entire Spanish establishment be turned over, but Bodega y Quadra held that there were no buildings seized in 1789, and the only possible land was a tiny and useless cove nearby. The two decided to refer the entire matter back to their respective governments. The friendly meeting between Bodega y Quadra and Vancouver led the former to propose that the island be named after both: "Quadra and Vancouver Island", which became the original name. While we know this island today as "Vancouver Island", the English explorer had not intentionally meant to name such a large body of land solely after himself.[8] In his September 1792 dispatch log report for the British Admiralty, Captain Vancouver reveals that his decision here was rather meant to honour a request by Bodega y Quadra that Vancouver:

"would name some port or island after us both in commemoration of our meeting and friendly intercourse that on that occasion had taken place (Vancouver had previously feted Bodega y Quadra on his ship);....and conceiving no place more eligible than the place of our meeting, I have therefore named this land...The Island of Quadra and Vancouver."[9]

Bodega y Quadra wrote, however, that it was Vancouver who made the suggestion of combining their names to designate some geographical feature.[10]

Dionisio Alcalá Galiano was the first European to circumnavigate Vancouver Island
Dionisio Alcalá Galiano was the first European to circumnavigate Vancouver Island

In 1792, the Spanish explorer Dionisio Alcalá Galiano and his crew were the first Europeans to circumnavigate Vancouver Island. On April 8, 1806, Captain John D'Wolf of Bristol, Rhode Island, sailed the Juno to Newettee, a small inlet in the northwestern promontory of Vancouver's Island. The Captain described Newette as one of the southernmost harbors frequented by American fur traders at lat. 51 degrees N. and long. 128 degrees. He relates that since Captain Robert Gray of Tiverton, Rhode Island, had sailed the Columbia River in 1792, the trade of the Northwest coast had been almost entirely in the hands of Boston merchants, so much so that the natives called all traders "Boston Men."[11]

The newly discovered "Quadra's and Vancouver's Island" was the most prominent name on maps of the coast, and appeared on most British, French and Spanish maps of the period. But as Spanish interests in the region dwindled, so did the use of Bodega y Quadra's name. The Hudson's Bay Company played a major part in the transition; by 1824 'Vancouver's Island' had become the usual designation in its correspondence for the island.[12] A quarter of a century later, Vancouver Island had become such a well-known geographical feature that the founding of the Colony of Vancouver Island in 1849 gave this name full official status.[13] Period references to "Vancouver" referred to Vancouver Island until the naming of the city of Vancouver in 1885.

British settlement

The Great Seal of the Island of Vancouver and its Dependencies was designed by Benjamin Wyon, Chief Engraver of Her Majesty's Seals, c1849.  The symbolic badge he designed are the basis for the flag of Vancouver Island, which is still unofficially flown today.[14]
The Great Seal of the Island of Vancouver and its Dependencies was designed by Benjamin Wyon, Chief Engraver of Her Majesty's Seals, c1849. The symbolic badge he designed are the basis for the flag of Vancouver Island, which is still unofficially flown today.[14]
The flag of Vancouver Island was authorized in 1865 (colonies could place their badges upon the fly of a blue ensign). This flag uses the Colonial Seal of Vancouver Island from 1849. The flag was probably never actually flown in colonial times, and is now used as an unofficial representative flag.[15]
The flag of Vancouver Island was authorized in 1865 (colonies could place their badges upon the fly of a blue ensign). This flag uses the Colonial Seal of Vancouver Island from 1849. The flag was probably never actually flown in colonial times, and is now used as an unofficial representative flag.[15]

Shortly thereafter, in 1846, the Oregon Treaty was signed by the British and the U.S. to settle the question of the U.S. Oregon Territory borders. It awarded all of Vancouver Island to Britain, despite a portion of the island lying south of the 49th parallel. In 1849, the Colony of Vancouver Island was established. Following the brief governorship of Richard Blanshard, James Douglas, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay post, assumed the role in 1851.

The first British settlement on the island was a Hudson's Bay Company post, Fort Camosack, founded in 1843, and later renamed Fort Victoria.[16] Fort Victoria became an important base during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858, and the burgeoning town was incorporated as Victoria in 1862. Victoria became the capital of the colony of Vancouver Island, retaining this status when the island was amalgamated with the mainland in 1866. A British naval base, including a large shipyard and a naval hospital, was established at Esquimalt in 1865 and eventually taken over by the Canadian military.

The economic situation of the colony declined following the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1861–1862, and pressure grew for amalgamation of the colony with the mainland colony of British Columbia (which had been established in 1858). The colony's third and last governor, Sir Arthur Kennedy, oversaw the union of the two colonies in 1866.


Vancouver Island is located in the southwestern corner of the province of British Columbia. It is separated from the mainland of British Columbia by Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait on the north and northeast, and by the Strait of Georgia on the southeast, which along with the Strait of Juan de Fuca along its southwest separate it from the United States (the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca are now officially also part of the Salish Sea, which includes Puget Sound as well). West of the island is the open Pacific Ocean, while to its north is Queen Charlotte Sound.

Vancouver Island population based on gender[17]
Vancouver Island population based on gender[17]

The Vancouver Island Ranges run most of the length of the island, dividing it into a wet and rugged west coast and a drier, more rolling east coast. The highest point in these ranges and on the island is the Golden Hinde, at 2,195 metres (7,201 ft). Located near the centre of Vancouver Island in 2,500 square kilometres (965 sq mi) Strathcona Provincial Park, it is part of a group of peaks that include the only glaciers on the island, the largest of which is the Comox Glacier. The west coast shoreline is rugged and in many places mountainous, characterized by its many fjords, bays, and inlets. The interior of the island has many lakes (Kennedy Lake, north of Ucluelet, is the largest) and rivers.


There are a number of rivers draining the island, some of which though short are large in volume. Among the more notable rivers are the Somass River in the Alberni Valley, the Nimpkish River in the North Island region, the Englishman River up island from Nanaimo near Parksville, and the Cowichan River whose basin forms the Cowichan Valley region in the South Island region.

Major centres

Vancouver Island's major population centre and only metropolitan area is Greater Victoria. There are also six census agglomeration areas as defined by Statistics Canada, including Nanaimo which has a population over 100,000 and as of 2016 is eligible to become a CMA. These metropolitan and agglomeration areas' populations in 2016 were as follows:

Rank Metropolitan Area Population (2016 Census)[18] Core city
1 Greater Victoria 367,770 Victoria
2 Greater Nanaimo 104,936 Nanaimo
3 Comox Valley 54,157 Courtenay
4 Cowichan Valley 44,451 Duncan
5 Campbell River 37,861 Campbell River
6 Oceanside (Parksville-Qualicum Beach) 28,922 Parksville
7 Alberni Valley 25,112 Port Alberni


Köppen climate types in Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands
Köppen climate types in Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands

The climate is the mildest in Canada, with temperatures on the coast even in January being usually above 0 °C (32 °F).

In summer, the warmest days usually achieve a maximum of 28–33 °C (82.4–91.4 °F). However, the rain shadow effect of the island's mountains, as well as the mountains of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, creates wide variation in precipitation. The west coast is considerably wetter than the east coast. Average annual precipitation ranges from 6,650 millimetres (261.8 in) at Henderson Lake on the west coast (making it the wettest place in North America) to only 640 millimetres (25.2 in) at the driest recording station in the provincial capital of Victoria on the southeast coast's Saanich Peninsula. Precipitation is heaviest in the autumn and winter. Snow is rare at low altitudes but is common on the island's mountaintops in winter.

A notable feature of Vancouver Island is the extension of summer dryness to latitudes as high as 50°N. Only in the extreme north of the island near Port Hardy is the rainfall of the driest summer month as much as one fifth that of the wettest months from November to March. West coasts of other continents at similar latitudes have a practically even distribution of rainfall through the year.


The centre of Vancouver Island contains high mountains, such as Golden Hinde.
The centre of Vancouver Island contains high mountains, such as Golden Hinde.

Vancouver Island is mostly made up of volcanic and sedimentary rock which was formed offshore on the now disappeared Kula oceanic plate. Around 55 million years ago, a microplate of the Kula Plate subducted below the North American continental margin with great strain. A volcanic arc on the surface of the Kula Plate was thus accreted and fused onto the western edge of North America. These terranes were subjected to extreme warping from continued subduction of the Kula plate, leading to the formation of the distorted Insular Mountains. Much of the central mountainous region around Strathcona Park is part of the Karmutsen Formation, which is a sequence of tholeiitic pillow basalts and breccias. Since Vancouver Island has become an accretionary wedge on the North American continent, the Kula Plate has fully subducted beneath it and the remnants of the Farallon Plate, the Juan de Fuca Plate, are now subducting below the island. This process has led to Vancouver Island being one of the most seismically active regions in Canada. The subduction zone off the coast of the island forms a section of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The area has been known to host megathrust earthquakes in the past, the last occurring in 1700. In 1946, the Forbidden Plateau in the east of the Vancouver Island Ranges was the epicentre of an earthquake that registered 7.3 on the Richter magnitude scale, the strongest ever recorded on land in Canada.[19]

Vancouver Island was the location of the observation of the episodic tremor and slip seismic phenomenon.


The western side of Vancouver Island hosts a rainforest.
The western side of Vancouver Island hosts a rainforest.

Vancouver Island lies in the temperate rainforest biome. On the southern and eastern portions of the island, this is characterized by Douglas fir, western red cedar, arbutus (or madrone), Garry oak, salal, Oregon grape, and manzanita; moreover, Vancouver Island is the location where the Douglas fir was first recorded by Archibald Menzies.[20] Vancouver Island is also the location where some of the tallest Douglas fir were recorded. This southeastern portion of the island is the most heavily populated region of Vancouver Island and a major area for recreation. The northern, western, and most of the central portions of the island are home to the coniferous "big trees" associated with British Columbia's coast – western hemlock, western red cedar, Pacific silver fir, yellow cedar, Douglas fir, grand fir, Sitka spruce, and western white pine. It is also characterised by bigleaf maple, red alder, sword fern, and red huckleberry.

View from Mount Magurie towards Washington
View from Mount Magurie towards Washington

The fauna of Vancouver Island is similar to that found on the mainland coast, with some notable exceptions and additions. For example, mountain goats, moose, porcupines, chipmunks, and numerous species of small mammals, while plentiful on the mainland, are absent from Vancouver Island. Grizzly bears are absent from the island, where black bears are prevalent, but in 2016 a pair of grizzlies were sighted swimming between smaller islands off the coast near Port McNeill.[21] Vancouver Island does support most of Canada's Roosevelt elk, however, and several mammal species and subspecies, such as the Vancouver Island marmot are unique to the island. The island's rivers, lakes, and coastal regions are renowned for their fisheries of trout, salmon, and Steelhead. It has the most concentrated population of  cougars in North America. Wolves are also present on this island.[22]

After near-total extirpation by fur traders in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, sea otters (Enhydra lutris) were protected by international treaty in 1911. Despite protection, the remnant population off Vancouver Island died out with the last sea otter taken near Kyuquot in 1929. From 1969 to 1972, 89 sea otters were flown or shipped from Alaska to the west coast of Vancouver Island. This population expanded to over 3,000 as of 2005, and their range on the island's west coast expanded from Cape Scott in the north to Barkley Sound to the south.[23]


Logging train on Vancouver Island, about 1925
Logging train on Vancouver Island, about 1925


Within the island's largest city, Victoria, there is a significant IT and technology industry. According to the Victoria Advanced Technology Council website, over 800 technology companies operate in the Victoria area, with combined annual revenues of $1.95 billion.[24]

High Speed Internet is delivered to the island by Shaw Communications, Telus, and various local providers with their own networks. Wireless Internet connections can be found all over the island, many free for public use.

While the island does generate much of its own power at several hydroelectric stations, increased demand required the construction of several high-voltage power cables, both HVDC and AC, connecting to the Canadian Mainland. See power lines connecting Vancouver Island with Canadian Mainland.


Outside of Victoria, Vancouver Island's economy is largely dominated by the forestry industry. Many of the logging operations are for export, although, historically, were for sawn lumber and pulp and paper operations. Recently, rotations are much shorter than the historical 80 years. Logging operations involving old-growth forests such as those found in Clayoquot Sound are controversial and have gained international attention through the efforts of activists and environmental organizations. Another source of controversy all over the island are logging operations occurring in community watersheds.[citation needed]


Fishing plays a large role in the lives of many islanders. Commercial fishing vessels operate out of the island's ports and harbours, and coastal fish farms produce many tons of Atlantic salmon yearly.[25][26][27]


Campsite at Mystic Beach
Campsite at Mystic Beach

In recent years the government of British Columbia has engaged in an advertising program to draw more tourists to beach resorts in places such as Tofino and Ucluelet. Sport fishing, whale-watching, hiking, SCUBA diving, surfing, and skiing are just a few things for which tourists visit Vancouver Island. Visitors also come to see Victoria's nineteenth-century architecture, and the many villages which line the coast such Cowichan Bay, Chemainus, and Qualicum Beach.

Food products

Consumer food products companies also exist in the various cities and towns on Vancouver Island. Bakeries, dairies, food processing plants, breweries, wineries, of varying size and scope are found all along the island. Some of these organizations have international customer reach.


Vancouver Island is home to a handful of universities, several colleges and trade-schools, hundreds of public schools, and a few dozen private schools (including Montessori and Waldorf schools).



Public school districts

There are 11 school districts on Vancouver Island with several elementary, junior high, and high schools in each. Three school districts are in the Greater Victoria area and the other eight cover the rest of the island to the north. All public schooling falls under the jurisdiction of the British Columbia Ministry of Education.

Private schools



Marine transport is very important to Vancouver Island for access to the mainland of British Columbia and Washington. There are no bridges connecting the island to the mainland, although the idea of building one has been brought up many times. Major technical issues and cost are the largest barriers to a bridge currently though exact public support for the idea is not currently known.[28] The only vehicle access to Vancouver Island is by ferry. BC Ferries, Washington State Ferries and Black Ball Transport Inc. operate the seven vehicle ferry routes to the island.

A BC Ferries vessel.
A BC Ferries vessel.

BC Ferries

Crossing time: 1 hour 35 minutes; 8 sailings per day year-round with added sailings depending on day and season)
  • Tsawwassen – Duke Point (13 km (8 mi) south of Nanaimo)
Crossing time: 2 hours; 8 round trips daily – varies in winter.
Crossing time: 1 hour 35 minutes; Sailings every 2 hours with extra sailings during the summer and holidays.
  • Gulf Islands – Swartz Bay
Crossing time: 35 minutes- 3 hours depending on island of departure; 4 or more trips daily.
Crossing time: 1 hour 20 minutes; 4 round trips daily.
Service daily or on alternate days; changes seasonally.

Washington State Ferries

Crossing time: 2 hours (not counting stops in the San Juan Islands)
1 round trip in March–June and September–January – 2 round trips in June–September

Black Ball Transport

Crossing time: 1 hour 30 minutes; 1 to 4 round trips daily; changes seasonally.

Passenger-only service In addition, there is passenger-only ferry services from the mainland to Vancouver Island:

Crossing time: 2 hour 45 minutes; 1 to 3 round trips daily
  • In the past, several private operators have run ferries between Nanaimo and Vancouver (most recently by HarbourLynx). Despite the operations repeatedly going bankrupt, there is still popular interest and ongoing discussion regarding re-establishing service between Nanaimo and Vancouver, but no signs that operations are imminent.[29][30][31][32]


The Island Corridor Foundation (ICF), a federally registered charity, was established in 2006 for the purposes of owning and managing the former Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway (E&N) Corridor on Vancouver Island. The ICF has established a contract with Southern Rail of Vancouver Island (SVI) to move all rail freight on the island and to and from the mainland. SVI is a private commercial rail company and subsidiary of Southern Rail of British Columbia, a short line rail operator that is part of the Washington Transportation Group. SVI assumed operating control from RailAmerica in July 2006 and offers general freight service only on the north Nanaimo to South Duncan segment of the Victoria–Courtenay main line (called the Victoria Subdivision by the railroad). The Port Alberni branch line (called the Port Alberni Subdivision by the railroad) has been out of service since late 2001. Passenger service, which had been operated by Via Rail under contract, was halted in 2011 after it was identified that a portion of the line failed to meet operating requirements for passenger service.[33] Since then, there have been ongoing efforts to secure funding from various levels of government to complete the necessary repairs, but the decision remains open.

Western Forest Products operates the Englewood Railway which is Canada's last logging railway, running from Woss to Beaver Cove on the northern end of the island. The former Canadian National Railway line running from Victoria to the Cowichan Valley was abandoned in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and the former grade between Victoria and Sooke is now the multi-use Galloping Goose Regional Trail. The BC Forest Discovery Centre has a narrow gauge railway winding around the park, and the Alberni Pacific Railway operates a tour train during the summer from the restored E&N Railway station in Port Alberni to the McLean's Mill on former E&N Railway trackage that is now owned by the ICF.


There is one major north-south highway system on the island, which runs along the eastern side. It begins in Victoria as Highway 1 which is part of the Trans-Canada Highway system as far as Nanaimo. There, Highway 19 takes over and continues to Port Hardy. The route is a patchwork of two-, four-, and six-lane roadways between Victoria and Port Hardy. The engineering characteristics and traffic control systems of the roadway vary widely from one city or district to the next and include the following variations:

Trans-Canada Highway:

  1. Congested, heavily signalized four-lane urban core streets with heavy pedestrian activity in Victoria and Duncan.
  2. Short four- to six-lane freeways with interchanges just west of Victoria and just south of Nanaimo.
  3. A mix of two-lane to four-lane winding mountain arterial road through the Malahat pass that is subject to frequent accidents and closures.
  4. A moderate to heavily signalized four-lane divided arterial road from Mill Bay to Nanaimo (interrupted by the Duncan urban-core bottleneck).

Highway 19:

  1. A moderate to heavily signalized expressway called the Nanaimo Parkway.
  2. A lightly signalized four-lane divided arterial road from the Parkway to Parksville.
  3. A stretch of four-lane high-speed freeway/expressway from Parksville to Campbell River.
  4. A moderate-speed two-lane arterial highway north from Campbell River to Port Hardy.[34]

Without a "fixed link" to the BC mainland, there is little probability of substantial improvements in the mobility characteristics of some of the more congested or heavily signalized sections of the Island Trans-Canada Highway or the Nanaimo Parkway. Proposals have been made for this kind of link for over a century. Because of the extreme depth and soft seabed of the Georgia Strait, and the potential for seismic activity, a bridge or tunnel would face monumental engineering, safety, and environmental challenges at a prohibitive cost.[35]

Another north-south route is Highway 17 a four-lane divided highway that has a mix of interchanges and traffic lights. It connects Victoria with the Saanich Peninsula, terminating the Vancouver Island portion of its route at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.

The main east-west routes are mostly two-lane but are generally free of the congestion seen on some of the four-lane highways. They comprise the following:

Vancouver Island is also well served by secondary routes, a growing number of which have efficient roundabouts in place of the traffic lights that can back up traffic on the main highway routes. Numerous active and decommissioned logging and forest service roads provide access into the back country.

Many communities are served by public and private transit. Greater Victoria is one of the few places in North America where double-decker buses are used in the regular public transit system. Tofino Bus All Island Express serves all major cities on Vancouver Island including Greyhound stations.[36]


Victoria International Airport (YYJ)

CFB Comox (YQQ)

  • CFB Comox/Comox Valley Airport is a shared military and civilian airport. In 2010 the Comox Valley Airport was the second busiest airport on Vancouver Island in terms of passenger movements (291,910).[37] It offers direct flights to Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Campbell River several times daily, as well as Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on a weekly basis through WestJet.

Nanaimo Airport (YCD)

  • Nanaimo Airport has flights with Air Canada Jazz to Vancouver and Calgary, Westjet Airlines to Calgary, Island Express Air to Victoria and Abbotsford. A recently installed (as of February 2010) instrument landing system and runway extension has improved the capacity, safety, and punctuality of flights. There are more improvements slated for completion March 2011.[38]

Qualicum Beach Airport (XQU), Tofino Airport (YAZ), Campbell River Airport (YBL) and Port Hardy Airport (YZT)

  • Qualicum Beach,[39] Tofino, Campbell River and Port Hardy have small airports capable of handling private aircraft and small commercial jets.

Harbour Airports and Heliports

See also


  1. ^ Though Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego (off the southern tip of South America) and Alexander Island (west of Palmer Land, Antarctic Peninsula) are both larger, neither are generally considered[by whom?] "Pacific islands" due to their locations in the Southern Ocean, bordering the Atlantic.


  1. ^ "The Atlas of Canada – Sea Islands". Archived from the original on 2012-01-28. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  2. ^ "BC Parks – Strathcona Provincial Park, Central Vancouver Island, British Columbia". Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  3. ^ "Saanich, BC Census Profile". Retrieved 2014-11-12.
  4. ^ a b Sub-provincial Population Estimates. BC Stats. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  5. ^ "Regional Geography – Vancouver Island, BC – Destination BC – Official Site". Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Milder winters allow growth of lemons and olives on Vancouver Island". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  7. ^ a b "History and Heritage of Vancouver Island, British Columbia". Retrieved 2007-07-08.
  8. ^ The Voyage of George Vancouver 1791–1795, Volume 1, ed: W. Kaye Lamb, Hakluyt Society, 1984, p.247
  9. ^ George Vancouver, "A Narrative of my proceedings in HMS Discovery from 28 August – 26 September 1792"; the cited quote from Vancouver is given in the final section of his report here from Nootka and is dated 26 September 1792, P.R.O., C.O. 5/187, f. 114
  10. ^ Tovell, Freeman M. (2008). At the Far Reaches of Empire: The Life of Juan Francisco De La Bodega Y Quadra. University of British Columbia Press. p. 249. ISBN 978-0-7748-1367-9.
  11. ^ Tales of an Old Seaport ed: Wilfred Harold Munro, Princeton University Press, 1917, pp.109–114
  12. ^ The Voyage of George Vancouver in Lamb, 1984, p.247
  13. ^ The Voyage of George Vancouver in Lamb, 1984, p.248
  14. ^ Swan, Conrad (8 January 1977). "Canada, symbols of sovereignty: an investigation of the arms and seals borne and used from the earliest times to the present in connection with public authority in and over Canada, along with consideration of some connected flags". University of Toronto Press. Retrieved 8 January 2018 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "The Flags of Canada by Alistair B. Fraser". Retrieved 2011-11-26.
  16. ^ "Places". Our History. Hbc Heritage. Archived from the original on 2004-12-06. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  17. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics. "Census Profile, 2016 Census – Vancouver Island and Coast [Economic region], British Columbia and Saskatchewan [Province]". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  18. ^ "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2016 and 2011 censuses – 100% data". Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  19. ^ Derek Sidenius (1999-01-24). "Shake, Rattle and Roll in '46 Earthquake". Victoria Times Colonist Islander Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-09-26. Retrieved 2006-07-14.
  20. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Douglas-fir: Pseudotsuga menziesii Archived 2009-06-04 at the Wayback Machine,, ed. Nicklas Strõmberg)
  21. ^ "Grizzly bears spotted swimming near Port McNeill seen as 'red flag'". CBC.
  22. ^ "VI-WILDS – Vancouver Island Wolf – Vancouver Island Wildlife".
  23. ^ "Sea Otter Recovery on Vancouver Island's West Coast". Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre Public Education Programme. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  24. ^ "What is VIATeC? – VIATeC". Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  25. ^ "Fresh Fish in BC". Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Vancouver Island salmon farm accused of putting diseased fish in ocean pens". Times Colonist. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
  27. ^ "BC farmed Atlantic salmon sales". Mainstream Canada Aquaculture. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
  28. ^ "A Potential Fixed Link to Vancouver Island". British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Archived from the original on 2010-08-21. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  29. ^ "Passenger Ferry Survey 2009" (PDF). City of Nanaimo. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  30. ^ "Businessman proposes Nanaimo passenger ferry to mainland". Stephen Rees's blog. 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  31. ^ "Downtown Nanaimo To Downtown Vancouver Passenger Ferry Survey". nanaimo-info-Blog. 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  32. ^ Wilson, Carla. "Nanaimo adds urgency to passenger ferry plan". Times Colonist. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  33. ^ "No Vancouver Island railway deal yet, says VIA Rail". Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  34. ^ BC ministry of transportation and infrastructure (2013). "BC highways". Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  35. ^ "A Potential Fixed Link to Vancouver Island – Ministry of Transportation". Archived from the original on 2010-08-21. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  36. ^ Tofino Bus (2016). "Tofino Bus schedule". Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  37. ^ a b c "Air Carrier Traffic at Canadian Airports (Catalogue no. 51-203-X)" (PDF). Statistics Canada. 2010. p. 10. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
  38. ^ "YCD". Nanaimo Airport. Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  39. ^ "CAT4 – Qualicum Beach Airport". Qualicum Beach. Retrieved 2012-04-15.

Further reading

External links

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