YOU’LL FIND A STAY ON CORTES IS­LAND A DE­LIGHT LIKE NO OTHER. IT SITS AS A GATEKEEPER TO THE FJORD-LIKE WATERS OF DESO­LA­TION SOUND, LONG RENOWNED AS ONE OF THE WORLD’S PRE­MIER BOAT­ING GROUNDS. THE IS­LAND WAS NAMED IN 1792 DUR­ING THE EX­PE­DI­TION OF GALIANO AND VALDÉS, PRE­SUM­ABLY AFTER HERNÁN CORTÉS, THE SPAN­ISH CONQUEROR OF MEX­ICO. There are three com­mu­ni­ties on the is­land: Man­son’s Land­ing is the main is­land set­tle­ment, and is com­prised of a post of­fice, the is­land mu­seum and vis­i­tor in­for­ma­tion cen­tre, the com­mu­nity hall, a nat­u­ral food store and cafe, and the is­land’s main food mar­ket. Man­son’s (as it’s known lo­cally) is also home to the is­land health clinic; the is­land’s only mo­tel is sit­u­ated a kilo­me­ter north of the com­mu­nity. Apart from the mo­tel, the is­land is also home to many B&BS and sev­eral fish­ing lodges, as well as a lux­u­ri­ous re­treat and lec­ture cam­pus (Hol­ly­hock Farm). The Gorge Har­bour Re­sort is a full ser­vice ma­rina, and in­cludes a store and gas dock, and is home to one of the is­land’s fine restau­rants. The tiny set­tle­ment of Whale­town, whose name com­mem­o­rates a whal­ing camp sit­u­ated there briefly in the late 1860s, is also home to the BC Fer­ries dock, which con­nects you with Van­cou­ver Is­land.

The Squir­rel Cove com­mu­nity is home to the Squir­rel Cove Trad­ing Co., and is equipped with a high-tide-ac­ces­si­ble ga­so­line and diesel pump and dock (as well as a govern­ment dock), and in­cludes an­other of the is­land’s fine restau­rants, known as The Cove, and the Fly­ing Squir­rel Take-out (both for sum­mers only). The gen­eral store in­cludes a liquor agency, a post of­fice, a se­lec­tion of gro­ceries (fresh and dry goods), an ex­cel­lent sum­mer­time ice-cream bar, and a very good hard­ware sec­tion, in­clud­ing many boat­ing goods and sup­plies. Their cloth­ing and dry goods bou­tique is also sure to yield a me­mento or two of your visit to the Cove.

There are many pub­lic ac­cess beaches scat­tered around the is­land, and a fresh­wa­ter lake next to Man­son’s Land­ing (Hague

Lake). Ac­cess to the is­land is pro­vided by BC Fer­ries, con­nect­ing the is­land via ad­ja­cent Quadra Is­land to the city of Camp­bell River on Van­cou­ver Is­land’s east coast.

The area be­tween Cortes and Camp­bell River is well-known for its salmon fish­ing, and boaters can usu­ally find at least a rock cod or two with a bit of pa­tient jig­ging.

Live mu­sic ap­pears of­ten on Cortes, with groups play­ing at ei­ther Man­son’s Hall or at the Gorge Hall, be­side the Ma­rina. The Gorge Hall holds movie nights through the sum­mer, too, (their book­ing sched­ule de­pends on dis­trib­u­tor avail­abil­ity.)

Oc­ca­sion­ally, one of the restau­rants will in­vite mu­si­cians, po­ets and writ­ers to present an evening of en­ter­tain­ment, and sum­mer fes­ti­vals usu­ally in­clude a mu­si­cal group or two for the crowd’s plea­sure.

Tide­line on-line mag­a­zine is the best way to read about these events, and you can plan your plea­sures ac­cord­ingly. You can count on there be­ing a fes­ti­val at the Gorge Ma­rina or at Man­son’s Hall on Vic­to­ria Day, Canada Day, mid­sum­mer day (June 23, 2017), and at the Squir­rel Cove Sun­day mar­ket.

Man­son’s Hall is home to the weekly Fri­day mar­ket from noon un­til three in the af­ter­noon (year-round); there you’ll find home­made breads and pas­tries, soaps, per­fumes, knit­ted goods, pot­tery, and oc­ca­sion­ally, im­ported fab­ric goods brought home by Cortes is­lan­ders from their win­ter trav­els, usu­ally to the South­ern Hemi­sphere. We res­i­dents of the rain­for­est need our win­ter sun-breaks!

You’ll also find a sim­i­lar line-up of goods and di­ver­sions at the Squir­rel Cove Sun­day mar­ket (July and Au­gust, in­clud­ing Labour Day, 12:30 pm ’til 3 pm). Wher­ever baked goods are men­tioned in this ar­ti­cle, add a note to your­self: Go early! Is­land bak­ers are VERY good, and they do jam, too; they’re soon sold out.)

Sleepy though the is­land ap­pears, life on the is­land has its plea­sures and de­lights.

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