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Salt Spring

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Given that the friends who visited recently from the UK (see previous post) had a mere four full days to spend in the provincial capital it was essential that we mapped out their agenda with particular care. Wishing to meet (and hopefully to exceed) their expectations we offered them a rich palette of options and put the choice in their hands.

For the Saturday they chose a day trip to Saltspring Island – and in particular to the Saturday market in Ganges. It would have been lovely to have cruised to Saltspring under our own power in ‘Dignity’, but a blazingly hot Saturday on the September long weekend is a bad time to fight with the queues both at the Sidney boat launch and at the public docks in Ganges, so we chickened out and took the ferry to Fulford instead.

A stall holder at the market – with whom, as is our nature, we engaged in conversation – swore that the crowd was scarcely half what it had been but a few weeks previously. Goodness knows what all of the other souls could possible have been doing – the place looked to be completely packed to us… and did I mention that it was blazingly hot?

It mattered not, of course, as we all had a splendid time, a very passable lunch and then returned home tired but contented.

The taking of photographs in the melee of the market, however, would definitely have been inadvisable, so I contented myself instead with assembling the odd assortment of images that you see represented below…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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As promised in my previous post – herewith some images from our weekend on Salt Spring Island:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidThis was taken at Ganges:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid…and this at Fulford Harbour:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid…and finally these from the top of Mount Maxwell – the highest point on the island.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidI promised a few posts back that I would write something about Saltspring (or Salt Spring as the locals apparently prefer it) Island, whence we scurried for a soothing lost weekend before our busy moving-in week.

The expanse of water that lies between Vancouver Island and the mainland – the Georgia Straight – is studded with an archipelago of islands of a diverse assortment of sizes. The more southerly group of these – the Juan de Fucas – lies across the border in the U.S. Those to the north comprise the Gulf Islands which are part of British Columbia. This range of islands is one of the big attractions of the area as far as I am concerned and I intend to spend a fair amount of my time therein upon my as yet unrealised boat – once is has been… er… realised!

The Gulf Islands have a somewhat other-worldly feel to them which is only exacerbated by their being smaller islands off the coast of a larger island – which in turn lies just off the coast of the Canadian mainland. The good inhabitants of Vancouver Island already see themselves as somehow different to British Columbians from the interior and the Gulf Islanders go a whole giant stride further. The closest parallels I can think of – for those who have absolutely no idea what I am blethering on about – are such mildly alternative settlements as St Ives or Glastonbury in the UK – or Tofino in BC. Hopefully you get the idea.

Salt Spring is the largest of the Gulf Islands and the closest to Vancouver Island. The ferry thence from Swartz Bay (but 10 minutes drive from our new abode) takes only 35 minutes and some of that is taken up by the usual jostling for position that is de rigueur in any ferry port before loading or unloading can begin.

Salt Spring has a higher than average population of creatives (including some really quite well known figures) in addition to what might best be described as a healthy cabal of new-ageists… You know – granola munchers, tofu tokers and suchlike! As a result the island positively vibrates with yoga retreaters, livers off the land and no end of artists and crafters. There is a massively popular Saturday market each week in the largest village – the delightful Ganges – at which all manner of home crafted delights may be purchased. The standard of goods on display is astonishing and it is little surprise to learn that Salt Spring has an international reputation across a fair range of fields.

Ganges – incidentally – was once called Admiralty Bay but was renamed in 1859, taking its name from HMS Ganges which was at the Pacific Station from 1857 – 1860 under the command of Captain John Fulford… after whom the small port on the south end of the island is named. Thus are the origins of many of the names of settlements and geological features on the west coast of Canada; a rich palette with surprisingly prosaic roots.

Should you feel that my tone regarding the Gulf Islands – and Salt Spring in particular – is a little too flip or cynical, I plead that I merely jest from affection. I quickly fell in love with Salt Spring but – as is also the case with St Ives and Glastonbury – I wouldn’t want to live there. (The same is not actually true of Tofino, but we all have our weaknesses!).

By way of recompense I will post some glorious images of Salt Spring in my next post.

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