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Galiano Island

Galiano Island Overview

Galiano Island is one of the Southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. Located on the west side of the Strait of Georgia, it is 27.5 km long, 6 km at its widest point, and 1.6 km across at its narrowest point and is separated from Saltspring Island by Trincomali Channel. On the western side of the island there are a series of sandstone caves. The island is northwest of Mayne Island, northeast of Saltspring Island and southeast of Valdes Island. It is part of the Capital Regional District Electoral Area G, and has a population of 1258 inhabitants.

Named after the Spanish explorer Dionisio Alcalá Galiano, who explored the area in 1792, the island is twinned with his home city – Cabra in Córdoba province, Spain. Galiano was long inhabited by aboriginal people from the Penelakut First Nation and used by other Coast Salish nations. Midden pits at Montague Harbour suggest 3000 years of inhabitance. According to the 2001 Canadian census, Galiano Island has 1,071 full-time residents. Industries of the past were logging and fishing, although today tourism and the arts are the most common methods of employment.


Government bodies that oversee the island include Federal, Provincial and Regional agencies as well as the Islands Trust whose mandate is to establish land-use bylaws to “preserve and protect” the island, most notably in terms of development. For most of the twentieth century roughly half of the land on Galiano was owned by the logging firm MacMillan Bloedel. As a result, Galiano was not as extensively developed as neighboring islands. When the firm sold its holdings on Galiano, debate about development issues sharpened, and the Islands Trust set minimum lot sizes to limit development.

Local elections are held every three years to determine who will be the island’s 2 Trustees.


Galiano Island is accessible by vehicle via BC Ferries; the terminal is situated at Sturdies Bay, in the southeast corner of the island. This vehicle and passenger scheduled ferry service runs from Tsawwassen (Vancouver) on the mainland and Swartz Bay (Victoria) on Vancouver Island.

Moorage is available at several public wharfs for boat traffic: Sturdies Bay, (walking distance to the Village), Montague Harbour, Whalers Bay, Retreat Cove and North Galiano.

Daily, regularly Scheduled floatplane service is offered from Downtown Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport through SeaAir and Saltspring Air to Montague Harbour. New in 2009, there is now regularly scheduled floatplane service from Seattle daily through Kenmore Air, either through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Kenmore Air Harbor and Seattle Lake Union.

Local Beaches

There are several beaches along the shorelines of the island. Pebble Beach is a beach with large pebbles in place of sand. The pebbles, after sitting under the sun for hours, help not only warm up the water when the tide rises but warm the beach goers as they lie directly on them. Several beaches have fine grey sand instead of coarse sand or shells.

Galiano Island Links

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