Location: Gambier Island is the largest of the Howe Sound islands and is situated north of Bowen Island. There is no vehicle access to the island but there is a regularly scheduled foot passenger service which runs between Langdale and New Brighton. Gambier Island features three large sheltered bays – West Bay, Centre Bay and Long Bay – situated at the south end of the island. The island is named after James Gambier, an Admiral of the Fleet for the British Navy in the early 1800’s.
History: Gambier Island was first inhabited by the Squamish First Nations people and the British Columbia Archaeological Survey that was conducted in 1975 identified 19 First Nations camps or village sites on the island. In the early 1900’s logging operations commenced on Gambier attracted by the large sheltered bays which were used as booming grounds. By the 1920’s, there were as many as seven logging operations conducted in the bays. European settlers first took up residence on the island in the early 1900’s, and many descendants of the early settlers still have property on Gambier.
Population: Gambier has only a small permanent population of less than 200 which resides primarily in and around the New Brighton, Gambier Harbour and West Bay communities. There are numerous seasonal or recreational communities situated along the southern part of the island as well as at Brigade Bay on the eastern shore and Douglas Bay on the north-east part of the island. The population increases dramatically in the summer months with people from Vancouver and other areas coming to the island on a seasonal basis to enjoy the recreational opportunities available both on the island and in the surrounding Howe Sound area. The island is also home to various camps enjoyed by both children and adults including Camp Fircom, Camp Artaban and Camp Latona.
Commerce: There is very little commerce on the island and its general store and café is currently closed. There are still some logging operations conducted on Gambier Island, but the extensive booming operations have declined considerably from their historic peak activity.