NO SHORTAGE OF ADVENTURE IN SALT SPRING & GANGES
A scenic harbour setting, park-like surroundings, and mountainous backdrop make Ganges on Salt Spring Island an inviting destination.
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
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.saltspringtourism.com to plan your trip!