Mayne Island History

Cemetery, Mayne Island, British Columbia
Cemetery, Mayne Island, British Columbia

First Nations people settled at Helen’s Point in Active Pass thousands of years ago, and some of their descendants are still living here. A mere two hundred and ninety six years ago, Captain George Vancouver’s crew arrived, leaving behind a coin and knife at Georgina Point to be found by British settlers two hundred years later.

This smallest of the islands has a huge history. In 1900, it was the Pacific Northwest destination for adventurous tourists. As a result, it has an unusually large number of hotels and tourist facilities for an island of 800 permanent residents.

Springwater Lodge, built in the 1890’s, still entertains travelers. The postage stamp sized nearby jailhouse is now a museum. The Church of St. Mary Magdalene, built in 1898, has an impressive 180 kg sandstone baptismal font, made even more impressive by the fact that it was brought over from the short lived Saturna quarry by rowboat!

Earlier than this, however, Mayne was the centre of activity due to its location right smack dab in the middle of the gold rush from Victoria to the Caribou. Miners Bay, named after these gold rush pioneers, flourished as a bustling village and port. Ships unloaded passengers, mail and freight here.

The fertility of the soil compared to other Gulf Islands resulted in successful farming ventures. The Mayne Island King Apple was one of the first varieties developed in B.C. and later tomato growing flourished. In the 1930’s a third of the population were Japanese, growing 50 tonnes of tomatoes each year.

Named in honour of Lieut. Richard Charles Mayne aboard the surveying vessel H.M.S. Plumper, in 1857.