Galiano Island History

Grand Central Emporium, Galiano Island, British Columbia
Grand Central Emporium, Galiano Island, British Columbia

“When the tide goes out, the table is laid for breakfast”, was Galiano pioneer Edward Winstnaley’s frequent comment. Settlers in these early days found the soil unfriendly and water scarce, turning instead to fishing, hunting, sheep and fruit growing to make ends meet.

Henry Georgeson, an early settler in 1863, found himself a unique vocation. He moved to nearby Mayne Island to man the first lighthouse at Georgina Point on Mayne Island.

Most settlers built in the south end of the island, where much of the population is found today. In those days it was common for intrepid Galiano residents to row across treacherous Active Pass to Mayne Island for their mail, a church service, or even to have a drink at the bustling Springwater Lodge at Miners Bay.

Before W.W. 2, a saltery and cannery were started by the Japanese on both Galiano and the Penders, but these had a short life due to the subsequent internment of the Japanese.

Industry now centres around tourism and the arts. An uncommonly large number of famous writers have called Galiano their home, including Audrey Thomas and Jane Rule. A growing film school is also flourishing.

Galiano was the commander of the Spanish vessel, Sutil’s, a schooner exploring the Strait of Georgia in 1792.

Long before Galiano arrived, however, the Coast Salish had summer camps here, as evidenced by the extensive shell middens at Montague Harbour – over 3000 years old!