Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island

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Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island

by | Jun 14, 2020

Ganges is a community on Salt Spring Island, one of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island, 35 miles (57 km) southwest of Vancouver, and 15 miles (24 km) north-northwest of Sidney, British Columbia. Ganges is the main service center on the island, with several grocery stores, numerous restaurants and art galleries, banks, and the Ganges Market.

Ganges Harbour, from which the town takes its name, was originally called Admiralty Bay but was renamed by Captain Richards in 1859 after the HMS Ganges. The ship was at the Pacific Station at Esquimalt from 1857 to 1860 under the command of Captain John Fulford. The first house on Salt Spring Island was built at Ganges in 1859 by the first group of 20 settlers that arrived on the island that summer. On 4 July 1860, the harbour was the scene of the killing of eight Bella Bella (Heiltsuk) people and the capture of three pioneer women and two boys by the Cowichans.

The island has a detailed history because it was the first in British Columbia to allow settlers to acquire land through pre-emption. Settlers could occupy and improve the land before purchasing for one dollar per acre. The island became a refuge from racism for African Americans who had resided in California but left in 1858 after the state passed discriminatory legislation against blacks. During the 1960s, the island became a political refuge for United States citizens, this time for draft evaders during the Vietnam War. The island is now known for its creative expression and a strong sense of place. Read more here and here. Explore more of Ganges Harbour and Salt Spring Island here:

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