Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wallace Island

Wallace Island.  Photo curtosy of Gulf Island Travel and Tourism.

Knowing the history and everything a destination offers is a top priority when planning an adventure.  I spend hours researching places to visit, the trails offered, how to get there, and what to expect.  Along the way I read about the history of the park, island or trail.  Some of the stories are quite fascinating while others are obvious.  Wallace Island has a bit of both.  Located in the Trincomali Channel between the northern ends of Salt Spring and Galiano Island, Wallace Island’s story starts with a name change.  Originally it was charted as Narrow Island and later named after the person who first surveyed the island, Capt. Wallace Houstoun.  As we arrived at the island, I made a point of noting this detail to the children but it did not seem to interest them.  I had my work cut out for me if I was going to excite a 5 and 3 year old about history. 

Wallace Island offers 4km of trails for visitors travelling by boat or kayak.  The BC Provincial Marine Park allowed us access to explore from Chivers Point to Panther Point and everything in between.  Chivers Point, the north point of the island, was named after Jeremiah Chivers.  He was the first known resident, a Scotsman, and retired on the island after partaking in the gold rushes.  The children were a bit more curious about this information, more so the part about the gold.  We continued past Cabin Bay and paused to admire the fruit trees planted many years ago by Mr. Chivers. 

The next stop had us discover something unexpected.  That’s the beauty of adventure; you can never be completely prepared.  My husband reminds me of this every chance he gets.  The trail we were walking on took us into an open field.  The wild grass was knee high and what lie ahead took me by surprise.  A red rusted old pick up truck.  The children were excited now, but I was puzzled.  I had not come across this unique treasure in my research.  Whose was it?  Why is it here?  All good questions being tossed at me and all I could come up with was it must have been David Conover’s truck.  He had purchased the island in 1946 and developed a holiday resort.  There is even a cove named after him, Conover Cove, which provides good anchorage for boaters.  This explanation worked and as soon as we returned home, I quickly searched the internet and found that the truck was in fact his.  

David Conover's red truck.

When we arrived at Conover Cove, we were amidst some of the cabins still around from the resort days.   Conover’s home, where he likely wrote his four books from, is still intact.  The other cabins are starting to deteriorate.  They were built after the Second World War so it is understandable that they are in such disrepair.  A neat sight was the old store and lounge that has been converted into a group picnic shelter.  It has been decorated with homemade signs displaying the names and dates of visitors carved on driftwood, shells, or boating type equipment.  The signs are tied to the beams, nailed to the walls, and laying on the floor.  It has even overflowed to the outside of the shelter.  We spent quite a bit of time in the shelter reading the names, laughing at the creations, and admiring the works of art.  

After prying ourselves away, we continued on to Panther Point, the southern tip of the island.  The children started their own theories before I could even mention why it was named that.  “Must be panthers living there.”  One added maybe not because panthers live in Africa.  “Could have been someone’s pet.”  It was time for mom to step in before fears of coming across a panther kicked in.  In 1874, H.M.S. Panther ran aground and sank just off the shore.  It took a bit of explaining about boats and rocks and the fate they face when crashing into them.  Then curiosity set in and wanting to see the ship was the next request.  Am I going to have to take up scuba diving now?

I enjoyed travelling through time at Wallace Island.  It was good for the heart and soul.  The last history lesson the children were told was that David Conover sold most of the island to a group of Seattle teachers who then sold it to the BC provincial government in 1989.  They both gazed at me for a moment and then asked when were we going back to see the truck!


  1. Nice! We almost went to Wallace a couple weeks ago but ended up going to Valdes instead. Post coming soon :)

    1. Valdes nice too! Did you happen to check out the caves there? Look forward to reading your post!