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Gabriola Island

Gabriola Island Overview

Gabriola Island is one of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia, in British Columbia (BC), Canada. Gabriola lies about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, to which it is linked by ferry. It has a land area of about 57.6 square kilometres (22.2 sq mi) and a resident population of slightly more than 4,000.

Gabriola has a mild climate, public beaches, and forested parks, as well as housing, roads, shopping centres, restaurants, a library, a school, and a museum. Its cultural life includes annual festivals related to art, gardens, music, boating, and fishing.


Gabriola Island is about 14 kilometres (9 mi) long by 4.2 kilometres (2.6 mi) wide on average with a land area of 57.6 square kilometres (22.2 sq mi). The topography varies from flat sandy beaches at sea level to forested hills rising to 160 metres (525 ft) on Stoney Ridge in the center of the island.

Gabriola lies about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of Nanaimo, the second largest city on Vancouver Island, to which it is linked by BC Ferries. The ferry, which takes 20 minutes for the crossing, runs almost hourly from about 5.30 a.m. to about 11.30 p.m. daily. Residents of Gabriola who work or attend high school in Nanaimo use the ferry to commute. Gabriola may also be reached by float plane or small boat.


The population of Gabriola rose by 15 percent, from 3,522 to 4,050, between 2001 and 2006. This growth rate was higher than that for BC as a whole, which grew at a rate of 5.3 percent. The population density was 70.3/km² (182.1 mi²) in 2006 compared to 4.4/km² (11.4 mi²) for all of BC.

The total number of private dwellings on Gabriola was 2,744 in 2006, of which 1,998 were occupied by the usual residents. The median age of the population was 52.9 years compared to the BC median of 40.8. Of the total population, 1,960 were male and 2,090 were female.


Cool and moist, the island averages 138 rainy days per year and seven days with snowfall greater than 0.2 centimetres (0.08 in). Days with high temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F) or higher are rare, averaging less than one per year. Days with temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) occur about 25 times per year. The average temperature in January is 3.7 °C (39 °F), and in July it is 16.9 °C (62 °F).


Island festivals include the annual Thanksgiving Weekend Studio and Gallery Tour, sponsored by the Gabriola Arts Council. The Dancing Man Music Festival is held in late April through early May and the Home and Garden Tour in June. The Non-Marine Boat Race, the Sand Sculpture Competition, the Annual Salmon Barbecue, and Gabriola Islander Day all occur in August. Throughout the summer, the Saturday Market at the Agricultural Hall features local produce and baked goods from the island, as well as crafts and artwork.

Gabriola and surrounding islands have more than 70 known petroglyphs – sandstone carvings, some of which may be as old as 2,000 years or more. A small park at the Gabriola Museum contains reproductions of some of these petroglyphs.

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