Saltspring Island
Saltspring Island is the largest of the Gulf Islands and is located off the south coast of Vancouver Island, in the Strait of Georgia.
Scott notes that the Saanich First Nations called the island “Cuan”, which means each end, and the Quw' utsun' called the island “Klaathem”, which means salt.1 The Quw' utsun' also named a mountain on the south of the island “Chuan”, or facing the sea, which is the name Douglas applied to the entire island on a map from 1854.2
Pemberton's 1855 map names the island Saltspring Island, an epithet coined by HBC officials in reference to the island's salt-water springs.3 In 1859, Richards changed the name to “Admiral Island”, marked so on this map, after Rear Admiral Baynes; however, in 1905 the Geographic Board of Canada reverted the name back to Saltspring Island, as local parlance decreed.4
One of the Island's memorable early inhabitants was a deranged, gun-toting surveyor named Rowe, who built himself a hut and declared himself the “Czar of Salt Spring Island”. Rowe periodically posted absurd proclamations for his loyal subjects to follow.5 “The Czar”, however, met an unfortunate end, as he was murdered by a small group of people from the Quw' utsun' First Nation in October of 1861 while away from his empire, on the Saanich Peninisula.6
  • 1. Andrew Scott, The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2009), 520.
  • 2. Ibid., 520-521.
  • 3. Ibid., 521.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. G. P. V. Akrigg and H. B. Akrigg, British Columbia Chronicle, 1847-1871 (Victoria: Discovery Press, 1977), 226.
  • 6. Ibid., 227.
Mentions of this place in the documents