Octopus Point, Sansum Narrows

Octopus Point, Sansum Narrows

by | Jan 10, 2021

Octopus Point is a headland in Sansum Narrows on the east coast of Vancouver Island, about 39 miles (63 km) southwest of Vancouver and 2.5 miles (4 km) southeast of Maple Bay, British Columbia. Sansum Narrows is a passage between Vancouver Island and Saltspring Island in the Southern Gulf Islands. In 1858, this point was named Burial Point by Captain George Richards. Canadian Hydrographic Charts have shown this as Octopus Point since 1926.

The narrow passages between the islands combined with strong tidal currents create dangerous swirls and eddies. Coast Salish folklore has a story about a legendary creature called Sheshuq’um that lived at Octopus Point. The creature had an enormous head with a large-toothed mouth and a long unfurling tongue, some elders even translate the name to mean “open mouth”. It is said that anyone who traveled too close to Sheshuq’um would be pulled under the water and eaten or drowned, leaving only the shattered remains of their canoes. The creature was vanquished by a legendary man known as Smakw’uts, said to be one of the strongest men ever to live. Smakw’uts lived at what is now known as Point Roberts in Washington State. Smakw’uts hurled huge stones at the creature and one stone struck and broke the mouth of Sheshuq’um. Sheshuq’um was defeated and turned into stone to serve as a reminder to all who pass of the monster that once lived there.

In 1948, Lauri and Rosa Mae Newman brought their nine children to live at Octopus Point. The Newmans fished the Sansum Narrows in a fleet of boats built at the point. The boats had signature varnished wheelhouses that were a Newman family tradition. Their abandoned home and boathouse still stand on the property. Read more here and here. Explore more of Octopus Point here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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