Discover Denman Island, British Columbia: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty
Nestled in the Northern Gulf Islands, Denman Island, also known as Sla-dai-aich or Taystayic in the Comox language, is a part of the Comox Valley Regional District of British Columbia, Canada. This member of the Islands Trust group is home to a small community of 1,391 year-round residents.
The Rich History of Denman Island, British Columbia
Denman Island was first inhabited by Indigenous peoples, including the Pentlatch and Sliammon. Evidence of their presence can be found in middens, gravesites, and oral history. The site most recently occupied by Pentlatch people was previously named Village Point but is now known as Denman Point. This village was occupied until the 1862 smallpox epidemic severely reduced its population, and the survivors moved to join the K'ómoks people in nearby Comox.
The Island was seen and mapped by Europeans during the 1791 voyage of the Spanish ship Santa Saturnina, under Juan Carrasco and José María Narváez. It was named by Captain Richards in 1860 for Rear Admiral Joseph Denman, who was commander of the Pacific station from 1864 to 1866.
The earliest colonial settlers of Denman Island arrived during the 1870s. Some were attracted by the establishment of the Baynes Sound Coal Mine on the Tsable River, across Baynes Sound from Denman Island. Mine construction started in 1873 and coal was shipped in 1876. Several large families migrated to Denman Island from Eastern Canada in 1876, including the McFarlane, Piercy, and Graham families.
The Vibrant Life on Denman Island, British Columbia
Regular ferry service links Denman Island to both Hornby Island from Gravelly Bay on the east side of Denman and across Baynes Sound via the MV Baynes Sound Connector cable ferry to Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island on the west side. The Village of Denman consists of one general store and Post Office, two community halls, a museum, the Dora Drinkwater Volunteer Library, a community school, an Anglican church, and the Arts Centre. There is also a hardware store, craft store, and Abraxas Book Gifts, a book and gift store and coffee shop. Around the corner on Piercy Road is the Denman Island Health Centre.
A number of potters, weavers, and painters have made Denman Island their home for decades. The island has a land area of 51.03 square kilometres (19.70 sq mi). The author Emily St. John Mandel spent most of her childhood on Denman Island, and modeled much of the fictional Delano Island in her novel Station Eleven after it.
The Unique Vegetation and Soils of Denman Island, British Columbia
The western part of Denman Island is covered by a dense forest dominated by Douglas fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar on deep loamy glacial till or marine deposits mapped as Royston gravelly loam or Tolmie-Merville complex. Some areas have shallow soils over sedimentary rock and are mapped as Haslam shaly loam or Rough Stony-Haslam complex. The eastern part has a loamy sand (Kye-Qualicum complex or Bowser series) on which arbutus is frequently present near the shore. Poorly drained depressions are mapped as Tolmie loam, Parksville sandy loam, or Arrowsmith peat.
Denman Island Disease: A Unique Challenge in British Columbia
An infectious disease among Pacific oysters was identified in 1960 off Denman Island. The disease causes visible yellow/green pustules on the body and adductor muscles of the oysters, therefore reducing the marketability of the oysters. It was found that the causative agent of these lesions is associated with microcells, which were later identified as Mikrocytos mackini.
Explore the Provincial Parks on Denman Island, British Columbia
Denman Island is home to several provincial parks, including Sandy Island Marine Provincial Park (off the northern tip, accessible on foot at low tide), Fillongley Provincial Park, Boyle Point Provincial Park, and Denman Island Park and Protected Area. These parks offer a variety of outdoor activities and opportunities to explore the island's natural beauty.