5 Things You Didn’t Know About Bowen Island

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Each week we’ll uncover some unusual and (hopefully) interesting facts about the city. This week we take on Bowen Island.

1. Bowen’s original name was “fast drumming ground”

“Fast drumming ground” comes from the Squamish name for the Island, Xwlíl’xhwm, which is attributed to the sound of the ocean splashing through the Island’s passes. In the Squamish creation story, Xwlíl’xhwm is also referred to as the place where deer were created.

2. The first permanent British settler arrived to Bowen Island in 1874

Bowen Island ca. 1910. Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.

Early settlers planted extensive farms and orchards and opened a brickworks, which supplied bricks to the expanding city of Vancouver. During these early years, local industry included an explosives factory, logging, mining, and milling.

3. Tourists started arriving at the beginning of the 20th century

Bowen Island ca. 1910. Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.

Jacob Dorman (one the Island’s earliest settlers), built a carousel on Snug Point. Playing fields and a tearoom were among the first amenities offered to locals and tourists alike. Captain John Andrew bought the Mannion estate in Deep Bay and formed the Terminal Steamship Company to bring over curious tourists from the mainland.

4. The island was first charted by explorer José Maria Narváez in 1791

Narváez spent a 22 days charting the region, eventually naming Bowen “Isla de Apodaca”. Present day Apodaca Park commemorates this name. Bowen Island was renamed by the British in 1860. “Bowen” honours Rear Admiral James Bowen, who was master of HMS Queen Charlotte during the battle of “The Glorious First of June”.

5. The Lady Alexandra offered daily cruises to Bowen Island for $1

Lady Alexandra arriving to the island. Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.

1946, 101,000 visitors were said to have arrived on Bowen via one of the Steamship Company’s “Lady” ships from Horseshoe Bay. A popular tour destination at the time was the dance pavilion at Snug Point, which could accommodate up to 800 dancing couples

For more information, visit bowenheritage.org