Near the south end of Galiano Island in the Gulf Islands, the 89-hectare Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park was the first marine park in British Columbia.
Sunset at Montague Harbour, Galiano Island
Photo: M. Guille
Recently, Montague Harbour has become just as popular with drive-in and cycle-in visitors as with boaters, and can get rather busy in the summer months. This Gulf Island park, which starts at 5 metres below sea level and climbs 180 metres to a steep rocky precipice, has a rich human history.
The white shell beach on the north side of the park marks one of several middens (refuse heaps) that indicate native occupation dating back over 3000 years. Castaway shells left by centuries of harvesting formed berms on the foreshore of the park. Wave action erodes the middens, crushes the shells and redeposits them to create Montague's white shell beaches.
Located within the park is Gray Peninsula, which was inhabited by Indians for over 3 millennia before the arrival of the Spanish explorer Dionisio Galiano in 1791. Mt. Galiano, at the south end of the island, yields views across the islands to the Olympics. Bodega Ridge to the north provides a spectacular vista of Vancouver Island and the BC mainland.
Scenic trails through a forest of Douglas-fir, Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar and Arbutus area lead to beautiful sandy beaches. Naturalists and bird watchers enjoy a climate and ecology found nowhere else, making Galiano a home and haven for many rare and protected plants and over 130 species of birds. The waters around Montague play host to flocks of wintering birds including diving ducks such as Scoters, Buffleheads, Goldeneyes and Mergansers.
This park offers 25 vehicle accessible campsites located within the forested area, adjacent to the beach and day use area, and 15 walk-in/cycle sites, in the forest above Montague Harbour. Reservations are accepted, as the park may be crowded at peak times. Open all year, fees for full services (water, firewood) are collected from March 15 - October 31. From November 1, the park is open however no services are available, and there is no fee.
Other provincial parks nearby are Prior Centennial Provincial Park, Ruckle Provincial Park, Sidney Spit Provincial Park and McDonald Provincial Park.
Galiano Island is a delight in every season, and summer's long warm days make outdoor activities especially pleasant. Recreational opportunities including picnicking, swimming, kayaking and hiking. This park has a boat launch, located at the north end of the park. Dock facilities and mooring buoys are located within Montague Harbour and are accessible from the south. Boats can also anchor in Montague Harbour.
The park offers interpretive progams during the summer months at the amphitheatre and floating nature house. Facilities include an information shelter, toilets and picnic sites. Full services are at Sturdies Bay and the nearby marina has a small store and coffee bar with basic supplies.
Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park is located on Galiano Island in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Galiano Island can be reached via BC Ferries, either from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island or Tsawwassen on the mainland. The park is 5 miles (8 km) northwest of the ferry dock at Sturdies Bay, and is reached via Sturdies Bay Road and Porlier Pass Drive.