A scenic har­bour set­ting, park-like sur­round­ings, and moun­tain­ous back­drop make Ganges on Salt Spring Is­land an invit­ing des­ti­na­tion.

Suncruiser West Coast - - Contents - Words by Janet Clous­ton photos by John Cameron - john­

The vil­lage con­tin­ues to ex­pand fa­cil­i­ties and at­trac­tions while re­tain­ing a warm and cozy small-town at­mos­phere. Over l00 busi­nesses, all within easy walk­ing dis­tance, ra­di­ate out from Ganges Har­bour. They in­clude spe­cialty shops, cloth­ing stores, hard­ware stores, photo shops, food and fish mar­kets, health food store, bak­eries, gal­leries, phar­macy, liquor stores, hair sa­lons, restau­rants, laun­dry, show­ers, ac­com­mo­da­tions, in­ter­net café, banks and a Canada Post of­fice. There is also no short­age of out­door ad­ven­ture rentals, in­clud­ing kayak­ing, stand-up pad­dle boards, scoot­ers and car rentals, char­ter sight-see­ing tours and din­ner cruises. There are also won­der­ful health and well­ness ser­vices in­clud­ing yoga, fit­ness classes, al­ter­na­tive heal­ing and two fit­ness cen­tres with a full range of ser­vices.

Upon ar­rival in Ganges, you will be greeted with the pic­turesque view of boats and float planes tied to moor­age floats and boats swing­ing at an­chor in the bay. Boaters are ad­vised to slow down to five knots (10 km per hour) when en­ter­ing Ganges Har­bour and then to slow even more to no wake speed. Vis­i­tor moor­age is avail­able in sev­eral lo­ca­tions. Ganges Ma­rina and Salt Spring Ma­rina are lo­cated at the head of the har­bour. The Salt Spring Har­bour Au­thor­ity op­er­ates pub­lic floats in both the in­ner and outer har­bours. The Gov-

ern­ment (Cen­ten­nial Wharf) Boat Basin is lo­cated be­hind the break­wa­ter south of Grace Penin­sula. The Outer Har­bour pub­lic float, Kanaka Vis­i­tor’s Wharf, is pro­tected by a large Break­wa­ter Float that ex­tends into Ganges Har­bour. There are spa­ces for float plane pas­sen­ger pickup, com­mer­cial ves­sels, vis­i­tors, and the Coast Guard. It is also the site of a waste pumpout. If moor­ages are full, an­chor­age is plen­ti­ful in the har­bour in depths of 7.5 to 10.5 m (24-35 ft). For shore ac­cess, a dinghy only dock is found along­side the Ro­tary Marine Park on the wa­ter side of Thrifty Foods.

Salt Spring has a long his­tory of en­ter­prise. Ganges has been a com­mer­cial cen­tre since the turn-of-the-cen­tury when Mouat’s Trad­ing was es­tab­lished in 1907. In the early days, the wa­ter­front was the scene of high ac­tiv­ity on Boat Day as lo­cal eggs, but­ter, fruit, pro­duce, poul­try, and live­stock were loaded for ship­ment off-is­land in ex­change for man­u­fac­tured goods. The lo­cal Cham­ber of Com­merce has been pro­vid­ing ser­vice since 1948.

Salt Spring Is­land was once one of the largest ap­ple pro­duc­ers in Western Canada. To­day, the is­land con­tin­ues its rich farm­ing cul­ture with har­vests of fruits, veg­eta­bles, fresh herbs, hy­dro­ponic let­tuce, eggs, flow­ers and meats. Salt Spring lamb is such an hon­oured prod­uct that it was served to Queen El­iz­a­beth II at the 1995 Com­mon­wealth Games. Salt Spring Cheese Co. not only pro­duces goat cheese, but in sum­mer is one of only two com­pa­nies in the prov­ince to pro­duce sheep cheese. Fruit and nut trees, some which grow in her­itage or­chards, bear va­ri­eties of ap­ples, pears, plums, wal­nuts, and hazel­nuts. Grapes also grow here and three

lo­cal winer­ies – Mis­taken Iden­tity Vine­yard, Garry Oaks Win­ery and Salt Spring Vine­yards - pro­duce won­der­ful award-win­ning vin­tages. Is­land grown or­ganic hops are brewed lo­cally by Salt Spring Is­land Ales. New to the bev­er­age of­fer­ing is Salt Spring Wild Cider, hon­our­ing the ap­ple grow­ing cul­ture on the is­land.

Fresh, lo­cal prod­ucts are on dis­play at lo­cal farm­ers mar­kets. The fa­mous Salt Spring Satur­day Mar­ket, boasts over 100 “bake-it, make-it or grow-it” ven­dors held at Cen­ten­nial Park from April to October, 8am-4pm. The Tues­day Farm­ers Mar­ket, with a fo­cus on lo­cal is­land farm­ers and food pro­duc­ers, is held from June-october, 2-6 pm.

Other is­land at­trac­tions in­clude the 1884 Bit­tan­court Her­itage House Mu­seum, at 351 Rain­bow Road at the com­mu­nity owned Farm­ers In­sti­tute (home of the Fall Fair). Learn about the is­land’s his­tory and pi­o­neer­ing fam­i­lies through ar­ti­facts, an­tique equip­ment and dis­plays. Open July-sept, Mon-fri., 11am to 4pm. Also on Rain­bow Road is Artcraft show­cas­ing the work of over 100 Gulf Is­land’s ar­ti­sans; open daily 9am to 5 pm from June through Septem­ber. They also host Win­ter­craft, on from Novem­ber through the hol­i­day sea­son for that made-on-salt Spring spe­cial gift. Art­spring, a per­form­ing and vis­ual art cen­tre, of­fers world cal­iber live theater, mu­sic, and art ex­hibits through­out the year fea­tur­ing lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tal­ent. Known as an artis­tic mecca, you will find dozens of gal­leries and stu­dios to tour fea­tur­ing West Coast and First-na­tions artists, fea­tured artists and home-spun tal­ent that will im­press even the most dis­cern­ing of

arts en­thu­si­asts.

Within a mile ra­dius of Ganges Vil­lage are parks, med­i­cal and den­tal cen­ters, a hospi­tal, li­brary with Wi-fi, the RCMP of­fice, and sev­eral churches. If you like to walk, Mouat Pro­vin­cial Park, lo­cated west of the down­town core, has a nice trail, along with disk golf, pic­nic ar­eas and beau­ti­ful tow­er­ing cedars. An­other lovely walk from town takes you along Up­per Ganges Road to Churchill Road to scenic Churchill Beach for a stroll on sand made from oys­ter shells. A more stren­u­ous hike is the three to four hour trek to Mount Ersk­ine or the Chan­nel Ridge Trails.

Land trans­porta­tion is avail­able to all parts of Salt Spring Is­land. A pub­lic bus with sched­uled stops at the ferry ter­mi­nals, Fern­wood Dock, and Ruckle Pro­vin­cial Park, runs daily. Also choose from taxi ser­vice, rental cars, or char­ter bus. Take a side trip to Bed­dis Beach, about 5.5 km (3.5 mi) from Ganges at the end of Bed­dis Road, a per­fect spot for swim­ming, launch­ing kayaks and en­joy­ing views of pass­ing fer­ries. Or visit St. Mary Lake, about 8 km (5 mi) north of Ganges, to en­joy sun­bathing, swim­ming, and fish­ing. On Lower Ganges Road to­ward St. Mary Lake, Salt Spring Cin­ema (“The Fritz”) shows first run films in a 102-year old her­itage build­ing. Lo­cated nearby is the Salt Spring Golf & Coun­try Club, one of the best golf courses in the re­gion, and Port­lock Park’s track, ten­nis, and play­ing fields.

Sev­eral an­nual events and fes­ti­vals are full of fam­ily fun in­clud­ing the Blos­som Fes­ti­val, Sea Capers, Taste of Salt Spring, Canada Day Fire­works, Mu­sic & Gar­lic Fes­ti­val, Fall Fair, Work­ing Boat Fes­ti­val, Salt Spring Har­vest Food & Drink Fes­ti­val, the Fa­mous Ap­ple Fes­ti­val and Christ­mas on Salt Spring. New to the Is­land is the Fe­bru­ary Fes­ti­val, a month long win­ter-time cel­e­bra­tion of arts and cul­ture.

The Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, lo­cated in the heart of Ganges, has ex­cel­lent free in­for­ma­tion on the lat­est events, con­certs and ac­tiv­i­ties hap­pen­ing on Salt Spring, the sur­round­ing Gulf Is­lands, and Van­cou­ver Is­land. The Cen­tre is open daily. Sum­mer hours are 9am-5pm, off-sea­son is 10am to 4pm, and win­ter is 11am to 3pm. Call us – we’re friendly! 1 (866) 216-2936 or lo­cally (250) 537-5252.

Visit www.salt­spring­ to plan your trip!

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