Saltspring Captures The Imagination
by Anne Rayvals
Contributor to Travelink Publishing
The Cowichan people called Salt Spring Island KLAATHEM, meaning "salt"; the Saanich called it CUAN, meaning "each end" (for the mountains at either end of the island) and the Coast Salish used variations of this name. But it was the first settler who purchased land on Vancouver Island who named the island Salt Spring for there were indeed, salt springs there, which captured popular imagination.
Boats were important to the early settlers and continue to be so today with BC Ferries providing the leading way to get to Salt Spring. Leaving Tsawwassen, our delightful ferry trip touched in at Galiano, Mayne, and Pender Islands - each part of the enchanted chain of which makes up the Southern Gulf Islands - before reaching Long Harbour on Salt Spring. From there, our destination of Anchor Point was only minutes away near the lovely town of Ganges.
Anchor Point is a four-star bed and breakfast, surrounded by Douglas firs with limbs that reach up to the heavens. It's an enchanting spot, owned by Lynn and Ralph Bischoff whose hospitality makes you feel instantly at home. Three beautifully appointed bedrooms (one with a luxurious four-poster bed and Queen Anne furniture) make this hideaway personal and relaxing with welcoming touches such as garden flowers in every room, tasty hors d'oeuvres at 5 p.m. and panoramic views of sailing boats skipping across the water. And every so often, a hummingbird flits across your line of vision. They're everywhere.
Ganges is Salt Springs largest community which bustles with village activity. The Saturday Farmer's Market is legendary among the islanders, and the numerous gift stores are a delight. One hot spot we discovered, The Tree House restaurant, is shaded by an ancient spreading plum tree and dishes up mouth-watering meals and live entertainment. I felt as though I had slipped through the Looking Glass and came out on the other side.
In Ganges, we joined other island visitors on the Gallery Walk, browsing through its array of galleries such as the Artcraft, a public forum of Salt Spring artists and craft people, and the Island Wildlife Gift & Gallery where we "adopted" a bald eagle for a modest fee. The donation goes directly to the care and feeding of animals in need. But Gallery Walk is only a glimpse of what Salt Spring has to offer. More than forty galleries and art studios are scattered throughout Salt Spring's pastoral landscape - an art lovers paradise. So we went for a drive up to Southey Point on the north end of the island, admiring scenic vistas of ocean and acacia, Douglas firs and arbutus trees, while wild flowers bloomed riotously in the rolling green hills. Sheep and llamas grazed in the meadows side by side with hobby farms and million dollar estates. Watch out for the rather eclectic looking General Store at Vesuvius - it's island landmark!
For the energetic visitor to Salt Spring there are boat charters, sunken wrecks to explore, kayaking and canoeing that will take you porpoises, seals and otters, fishing and windsurfing. On land you can birdwatch, ride horses, go cycling, play golf, pick berries, camp or hike to the top of Mount Maxwell. All this, while enjoying a place that gets only half the rainfall of Vancouver.
Returning to Anchor Point, we ended our day with a relaxing dip in the hot tub, surrounded by the tall, protective trees which gave way to an incredible view of the ocean. Although a fairly strong wind blew, we ducked our shoulders into the bubbling, soothing water and sighed with pleasure. A romantic moon peered through the trees as clusters of stars, never seen in the city, twinkled overhead. Salt Spring certainly does catch the imagination. And Anchor Point is heaven.
If You Go:
Anchor Point Bed and Breakfast
150 Beddis Road
Salt Spring Island, B.C.
Toll free: 1-800-648-2560
Web Site: www.anchorpointbb.com
Hosts: Lynn and Ralph Bishchoff
Three ferries service Salt Spring Island, two from Vancouver Island and one from Vancouver/Tsawwassen. Call (250) 386-3431 for schedules and fees.
There are also regular Harbour Air connections. Call (604) 688-1277 for flight information.
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