Back To About Salt Spring Island

Ice once covered parts of British Columbia and Salt Spring was no exception. Fifteen thousand years ago ice was up to 2 kilometers thick but this varied. Not all of the coast was covered but evidence of glaciation may be seen on Salt Spring. Large grooves are visible in the bedrock on parts of the island, in particular Ruckle Provincial Park between the picnic area and the campground. 

Before contact, Salt Spring had a long aboriginal history dating over 5,000 years before present. Today Salt Spring is a part of the Te'Mexw (Sanich) and the Hul'qumi num (Cowichan and Chemainus) First Nations. Many middens attest to very long occupations and sites are extensive (protected by law The British Columbia Heritage Conservation Act). In more recent prehistoric history it is believed Salt Spring was used seasonally by the First Nations.

The island was explored by the Spanish and the British in the 1700's. James Douglas legislated access to indigenous lands in 1859. It is said that roughly half of the original settlers were African Americans from San Francisco. Other settlers were Australians, Europeans, Japanese, and from the British Isles. . Also included were former Hudson's Bay Company employees some of whom were Hawaiian in origin so by the turn of the century the population was quite multicultural.

When Salt Spring was first settled there were enormous challenges. Forests had to be cleared, roads built and pioneers were often challenged by inexperience. Abundant sea food, a hospitable climate and fertile soil helped. Certainly by the 1930's vacationers discovered the island and resorts began to open. By the 1950's the island started to become cottage country for Victoria and Vancouver. Slowly infrastructures have increased and Salt Spring is now home to approximately 12,000 people.

The diversity and pioneer spirit continues today and flavours the creative spirit of entrepreneurship and individualism for which the island is so well known.