Texada Island, the largest of the Gulf Islands, is located about 50 miles north of Vancouver at its southernmost tip and about 5 miles southwest of Powell River. It is 32 miles long and six miles wide at its widest and is separated from the mainland by Malaspina Strait.
Surviving middens and fish weirs show that First Nation People spent time on Texada long before Europeans discovered North America. These People didn’t have permanent settlements on the island, because an ancient legend says the island rose from the sea and will sink again one day.
The Sliammon name for Texada Island is Si’yi yen. Don Jose Navarez, a Spanish seaman sighted and charted the island in 1791. Spanish explorers also named the small island just west from Texada (Lasqueti). While Spain did not have much interest in this area, Britain became a dominant force in the Pacific Northwest. At this time there was little activity along the coast, apart from fur trading, whaling, and cutting a few spars for sailing ships. Blubber Bay, which is now the site of the BC Ferry terminal was so named because it was used by whalers for the processing of their catches. Texada’s modern history began in 1871, when iron ore was discovered on the northwest coast at Welcome Bay. That precipitated the boom of exploration on Texada.
Some time after 1877 marble was found, then in 1880 gold was discovered, where Van Anda is now and The Little Billie Mine began producing gold and copper. Logging has also been prevalent in this area during the late 1800s and 1900s. By 1898 Van Anda had become a boom town! People came from everywhere to live, work and spend their leisure time here. It boasted the only opera house north of San Francisco, had three hotels with saloons, a hospital, several stores and businesses, and an illegal distillery flourished in Pocahontas Bay supplying liquor to the United States during prohibition.
In 1910 the first of three serious fires completely destroyed the major buildings of Van Anda in only forty minutes. The optimism of the boom town led to rebuilding larger, more imposing structures – only to be destroyed by fire again in 1912. The third fire struck in 1917 leaving only Al Deighton’s store which was saved by a bucket brigade. The building remains a fixture on the Van Anda waterfront today. Mining continued through the 20th century and today there are still a number of working limestone quarries on the island. The largest, located near the airport, ships out three million tonnes of limestone a year.
Today, Texada Island is largely a place where people come to to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and there are a variety of vacation rentals available. Many visitors spend their vacations here, returning in later years to retire in this peaceful community. The area boasts many lakes and hiking trails and most are accessible by car or 4 wheel drive.
There are many beaches accessible by land or water and beachfronts vary from large rocks to fine sand. You may also find a rock which can only be seen on Texada, ” the flower rock” , If you find one please enjoy its beauty but leave it behind for the next person to enjoy.
Although much of the old logging roads have been reclaimed by nature you will still see signs of this history everywhere. Shelter point, located on the west side of the islands, still displays the remains of a once thriving logging area. There are 2 major population areas on the island, Van Anda on the east side and Gillies Bay on the west side. While not all services may be available on the island, most major amenities such as foodstuffs, hardware & gas can be purchased here.
A medical clinic is located in Gillies Bay as well as a detachment of the RCMP. A regular car ferry service operates between Powell River and Texada daily with numerous sailings. Boat Moorage is available at Marble bay on the Van Anda side of the island but space is limited. Many boaters choose anchorage in the many bays around the island.