About Salt Spring
"How I wish that somewhere there existed an Island for those who are wise and of goodwill. In such a place, even I would be an ardent patriot."
- Quote from Albert Einstein, printed on Salt Spring currency
Salt Spring Island, the largest of British Columbia's southern Gulf Islands, offers a marvellous opportunity to escape the frantic pace of life. On the island you often get a feeling of being in another world. No one seems to be in a hurry. There are no traffic lights. The concerns and worries of the rest of the world seem to be far away.
Salt Spring even has its own flag and its own currency. Salt Spring Dollars (suitably denoted by the symbol $$) are the first alternative currency in Canada backed 100% by the Canadian dollar and can be used at stores throughout the island. Revenues from the $$ Dollars are used to support community projects.
The Salt Spring setting is pure West Coast Canadian - deep forests, magnificent mountain peaks, pastoral meadows surrounded by the deep blue ocean. No wonder it is the most commonly visited island in the area!
Salt Spring Island is named for the salt springs located on private property on the north end, near Fernwood. Native people originally called the island Chuan or Tuam. The British Navy, landing in the area in 1859, decided to call it Admiral Island after one of its officers, but in 1906 the name reverted back to Salt Spring Island.
Salt Spring Island has a very diverse background of settlers. The Coast Salish First Nations people used Salt Spring as a seasonal home and the first non-aboriginal settlers arrived in the late 1850s. By 1900 there were approximately 80 farms on the island. Early settlers included African-Americans, Hawaiians, Portuguese and Japanese. Many came to find a place where they could live in peace and today people from a wide range of countries are still finding their way to this special island to fulfil their dreams.
Salt Spring has a year-round population of 10,000 that is said to double in the summer. Ganges is the largest community and is located in the centre of the island. It contains the main shopping areas as well as post office, library, schools, hospital and fire hall. Fulford, at the south end, and Vesuvius on the western shore are the other communities on the island.
The Visitor Info Centre on Lower Ganges Road in downtown Ganges is a great place to find ideas on touring Salt Spring Island and it’s open every day, year-round.
Have you checked out our Photo Tour of the island? Sit back, relax and enjoy this snapshot of life on Salt Spring.
Salt Spring Island is home to many types of businesses. Entrepreneurship seems to flourish here. The local economy is heavily dependent on the tourist industry. Bed and breakfast accommodations or self-serve rental cottages are abundant. Check the Visitor Info Centre for information or view the list of accommodations at the Chamber of Commerce web site
Salt Spring is full of artists and musicians whose studios dot the island. Pick up a brochure at the Info Centre for the Salt Spring Studio Tour that will guide you to more than 30 artists’ studios. Or check out the Saturday Market for arts, crafts, and locally grown produce. Over 100 artisans of all ages participate in the market each week affirming Salt Spring’s reputation as having the greatest collection of artists in Canada.
Salt Spring was the first place in BC to start growing apples. In 1894 fruit trees outnumbered Salt Spring residents by 10 to 1. At Apple Luscious Organic Orchards, you will find over 180 varieties of apples grown today using totally organic methods.
Salt Spring is called the Organic Gardening Capital of Canada. Organic farms can be found throughout the island, many of them with farm stands where you can sample their produce.
Every Tuesday during the summer months, island farmers and growers of organic produce hold a market in the centre of Ganges. Here you will find locally grown, organic produce and items such as organic cheese, non-GMO organic tofu, freshly milled organic grains and hand-made soap.
One very interesting project that has sprung up on Salt Spring is the Seed and Plant Sanctuary for Canada. This sanctuary is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of heritage seeds. You can find more information at the Salt Spring Seeds web site.
Salt Spring Island's population of over 10,000 is very well served with health care facilities and professionals. Lady Minto Hospital features 50 beds, including extended care.
Other community services include public and mental health nurses, ambulance station and paramedics, fire department, dentists, home support, services for seniors and youth, Meals on Wheels and Welcome Wagon for newcomers. Alternative medicine services are abundant and include practitioners in aromatherapy, chiropractic, naturopathy, bodywork, and massage therapy among others.
The Salt Spring Island Public Library is the largest all-volunteer library in Canada with a staff of about 150 volunteers. You can find borrowing information, hours of operation and can even search the catalogue online at the library web site.
There are five public schools and several private ones on Salt Spring. The oldest continuously used school in BC (built in 1885) is the Little Red School House next to the Beaver Point Hall, near Ruckle Park.
Churches of many faiths serve the island population. Salt Spring's oldest church is the tiny but picturesque St. Paul's Catholic Church, located on the east side of Fulford Harbour, built between1880 and 1883.
Salt Spring Island has every kind of major service that you will need. You can visit here. You can build a home here. You can raise a family here and you can retire here. Come for a visit and find out what Salt Spring has to offer you!