Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chapter 10: Ganges Harbour, Village & Market...

Ganges is the largest village on Saltspring Island. Tis also the business centre and, according to some, the hub of the Gulf Islands. I've made it a point to sail into this fine harbour during each of a dozen or more trips I've made into the Gulf Islands. Ganges Harbour provides a good anchorage for boaters wishing to explore the village. The town of Ganges is located on the east shore of Saltspring Island, at the head of a long natural harbor bounded by rocky islets. Keep a lookout for crab buoys, bustling boat traffic and the numerous seaplanes landing, taxiing & taking off as you approach from the south. The anchorage is very busy and crowded in summer, and if a southerly breeze kicks up in the afternoon mariners beware. The 1st photograph is the S/V AQUILA at anchor in Ganges Harbour on a late September day.

In this Robin Thom aerial image we see the southern approach to Ganges Harbour with the Three Sisters Islands in the foreground and Ganges in the back. Ganges and indeed Saltspring Island has a diverse and interesting history. The village was named after HMS Ganges, the flagship of the Royal Navy's Pacific Station between 1857 and 1860. Built in 1821 HMS Ganges was an 84-gun ship of 2,284 tons, carrying a crew of nearly 800, and is reported to be the last British sailing warship commissioned for duty in foreign waters.

This is an image Catherine caught of a wanderer in Ganges waterfront park. Because the village is built on Grace Point there are three distinct waterfront portions to the town.

Catherine enjoying part of the vast selection of used books at a waterfront shop in Ganges. We purchased books by local writers as well as a Ken Kesey novel and a couple of hard to find charts.

Continuing with the history of this fascinating island community; the Tsawout Band of the Salish First Nations still has holdings on the south coast portion of Saltspring Island. European exploration of the island began with the Spanish and British in the 18th century. Settlement started in the 1850’s by pioneers from the B.C. mainland. What may come as a surprise to some is that these early settlers were joined by groups of freed slaves who emigrated to Canada and Saltspring Island after leaving the United States. At that time Canada and particularly British Columbia was seen as a land of freedom and of opportunity for many blacks. In 1858, blacks from the United States were formally invited by British Columbia Governor James Douglas to take up land in the new colony. In the States, many blacks were denied rights such as citizenship rights, suffrage rights, and the right to homestead land, and they saw British Columbia as a place of freedom. Upon welcoming black settlers to Saltspring Island, James Douglas distributed land to the new settlers, allowed new black citizens the right to vote, and allowed black male citizens to become part of the local militia.
Saltspring Island today is home to artists, farmers, craftfolk, retirees, and vacationers who visit the island by B.C. ferry, private boat, and floatplane to enjoy a laid-back lifestyle in natural beauty.
Here Cathy is playing the role of "vacationer" and enjoying a late afternoon Irish coffee and pastry at the Treehouse Cafe' in Ganges.

This is a busy little town, at least in the fair weather part of the year. The streets are abuzz with pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The marinas, restaurants, bakeries, craft stores and a multitude of quaint shops all do a brisk trade during 'on' season. An AQUILA crew favorite is the Treehouse Café, a mostly outdoor venue serving lunch, dinner and evening music.

This is another photograph of the Treehouse Cafe', this time after dark. We stopped in this evening for refreshments and to listen to a solo guitarist, singer, songwriter providing the evening entertainment.

This dawn, on the 26th of September was a beautiful, still morning. AQUILA has a small but very efficient wood burning stove/fireplace which I lit upon arising. As the warmth filled the cabin and while the water for the French press coffee boiled this photograph found it's way into the camera. We would be departing Ganges Harbour later this morning but first our mission ashore was to visit the celebrated Ganges Saturday Market.

What’s so special about the Ganges Market? It has an advertised and enforced HOMESPUN GUARANTEE ensuring all vendors "make it, bake it, or grow it" themselves, and all products must be "vendor produced and sold". This is the mandate which provides the essence of the special market in this unique waterfront Gulf Island village. Here is a collage of some of the photographs I took that morning while visiting the market.

We'll close this 10th installment of our visit to Ganges Harbour, Village and Market with this photograph Catherine shot on our way out of the anchorage. A local sailing vessel bedecked in colorful flags. And speaking of flags. Our next destination is Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands, where we will clear U.S. Customs back into the United States and take in the renown sunset flag ceremony of Roche Harbor.
See you there...
Saltspring Island Saturday Market:

1 comment:

Jerr Dunlap said...

Thank you for your beautifully feeling photography and insights into Gagnes Harbour. I enjoyed the history especially. Well, the shots are wonderful, too!
- Jerr