Indigenous people have been in the area for over 3000 years; the town’s name has a connection with the holy Ganges in India. The counter culture is alive and, as one writer said, spiritual healers have become an invasive species. Seaplanes roar in and out of the harbor. There are loads of contrasts on this, the biggest town on the biggest of British Columbian’s Gulf Islands. But I was curious about the name of the bay - Kanaka.
It’s Hawaiian; it means “person” or “man”. But why this Hawaiian name here, in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia? It turns out back in early days of white settlement Many Hawaiians came to work for Hudson’s Bay Company as immigrant laborers. Here in Salt Spring they were contracted for a term and then free to do what they pleased after the term was complete. Some stayed right here in Salt Spring. I tried to find evidence of the Hawaiian culture beyond the name of the bay. A local told me down in the town of Fulsome, there are gravestones with shells on them. “And Oh yes,” she told me there are the Hawaiians themselves. “
So no Hawaiian artifacts, but the island lifestyle is definitely evident. Lots of tourists, lots of boats, lots of music in open air bars and restaurants. One of the more well known is Treehouse Café, with live music nightly, indoor and outdoor seating and a giant tree growing right through the roof.
Strolling through town I passed the Courtyard. Bagels hung on string across the counter window. Who can resist hanging bagels? Not just any bagels, these were Montreal bagels. They look more like bialies that I saw on the lower east side of Manhattan. I ordered one covered with lox and cream cheese. It came with a yellow and orange pansy sitting on a hand hewn wood cheese board. Absolutely delicous.
The bagel shop was a recent addition to the gallery, Hiro, the owner told me. “ We just opened it 2 weeks ago.” Hiro, is a Polish trader who commissions woodworked objects in Indonesia and brings them to sell in his gallery here on Salt Spring. His Japanese wife, Miro, manages the Montreal bagels. Hiro and Miro.
Just across from the Courtyard is a shiny new airstream mini, the home of Salt Spring Soft Serve. The owner Chris told me, “I mix cocktails for a living.” He and his family moved to Salt Spring from Vancouver B.C. two years ago. “We didn’t want to raise our kids in downtown Vancouver.” For a while he commuted then just two months ago, after testing recipes for his dairy free, coconut and oat milk based soft serve, he opened his ice cream truck. “It wasn’t hard to go from mixing cocktails to mixing sundaes,” he said.
We really just tapped the surface of this interesting Canadian town and I hope to visit again.