British Columbia the Inside Passage

Jedediah Island: Home (Bay) At Last!

Saturday, May 25, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

Cambria at anchor in Deep Bay, Jedediah Island, BC.

There are several anchoring options available throughout Jedediah Island, but our stay coincided with southeasterly winds leaving us only one choice:  Deep Bay on the island’s northern end.  Considered to be one of the safest anchorages in the area, Deep Bay offers all-weather protection.  And we agree.  While it was blowing over 20 knots in the Strait of Georgia, we only saw a breeze inside the anchorage – just enough to keep things pleasant and cool. 

There’s a trail that leads from the bay through an old-growth forest of fir, hemlock, arbutus and pine to a meadow before branching off in two directions:  One then leads to Home Bay, the former homestead of the island’s previous owners, the Palmers.  The other leads to Long Bay and, eventually, Mount Gibraltar, the island’s highest point. 

Home Bay, Jedediah Island, BC.

Today we opted for Home Bay.  Though the Palmers were the last private owners of the island, they weren’t the most colourful.  That honour clearly belongs to an Irish farmer by the name of Henry Hughes who owned the island in the 1920s and‘30s.  He didn’t care for strangers and suspected those visiting the island of poaching his sheep – going as far as greeeting some people with the barrel of a shotgun.  He had come from Ireland and bought Jedediah Island not only as a retreat but as a working farm, bringing a manservant, gardener, cook and a shepherd with him.  But from all accounts, he was more interested in reading and academics than in farming and soon depleted his finances. 

He then lived on the island alone with his dog, Caesar, until meeting the love of his life, an English nurse by the name of Jenny.  One summer day a group that had arrived by sailing yacht ventured ashore to walk along the trails and ran into Hughes who invited them to his house at the head of Home Bay.  Jenny ultimately became his wife and they lived on the island together for years.  Hughes eventually hoped to sell Jedediah to the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company for development into asummer resort but the CPR purchased Newcastle Island near Nanaimo instead – what a different place it would be. 

In 1949, the island was purchased by Mary Palmer and her first husband who used it as a retreat.  In the 1970s, she moved to Jedediah full-time with her second husband, Al Palmer, and they became the last residents and private owners.  Deciding that they wanted to keep the island pristine for all to enjoy, the Palmers decided to sell it, well under value, to the government for preservation as a provincial marine park; thus starting the fundraising efforts of the Friends of Jedediah and contributions from hundreds of individuals, groups and corporations throughout British Columbia.  The island became a marine park in 1995 – any visitors will tell you that the funds were well-spent. 
As we crossed the meadow and walked toward Home Bay, we caught our first glimpse of the feral sheep that were left behind by the Palmers grazing along the edge.  Unfortunately, we were more interested in seeing them than they in us and they quickly ran into the shelter of the forest. 

Not long after clearing the meadow, Home Bay came into view.  Today the Palmer’s house sits patiently as nature runs its course.  But overall it, along with the out buildings and orchard, is in remarkably good shape considering the climate. 

There’s so much more to see and do on the island and I would have like to have explored some more, but we had already walked close to two miles and Sally was starting to get a little tired.  Neither David nor I cared to lug around an exhausted 40 pound dog, so we made our way back to the boat:  The rest of Jedediah Island will just have to wait until tomorrow.   

A bilge-keel at anchor in Home Bay, Jedediah Island, BC.

Sally wearing herself out in Home Bay, Jedediah Island, BC.

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