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(Nov 22 2021)


Silva Bay | A Local History


Situated in the eastern corner of Gabriola Island in the Salish Sea, picturesque Silva Bay has been a meeting ground since time immemorial. 


Part of the traditional territory of the Snunéymuxw First Nation, Gabriola Island is located just a short ferry ride from the port city of Nanaimo – but feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 


Thousands of Indigenous people lived here on Gabriola in coastal villages over the centuries; the largest of these was located near False Narrows on the southwest shore. Snunéymux petroglyph rock carvings, believed to be thousands of years old, can be found across Gabriola, and serve as a testament to the rich history of Indigenous peoples in the area. 


The first Europeans to set foot on Gabriola were the Spanish explorers Narváez, Valdés and Galiano, who landed here in 1791. The British soon followed a year later, led by explorer George Vancouver – the namesake of British Columbia’s largest city and largest island, both located in close proximity to Gabriola. European settlement of Gabriola began in earnest several decades later, when coal was discovered on nearby Vancouver Island in the mid-nineteenth century. 


Within a few years, seventeen settlers were working the land on Gabriola to supply food for the growing port town of Nanaimo. Later settlers began quarrying Gabriola’s abundant sandstone as a construction material in cities across the West Coast of North America. From the 1890s onwards until 1952, the Gabriola Brickyard produced up to 80,000 bricks each day, while the calm waters of Silva Bay were home to a fishing fleet, a lumber mill as well as a thriving shipyard. 


During the 1950s and 60s, the Silva Bay Shipyard was the largest employer on Gabriola, building and repairing fishboats, yachts and other small vessels. In 1955, the shipyard built three 75-foot patrol boats for the Royal Canadian Navy, and many boats built there are still in use today. The deep and sheltered waters of Silva Bay make it the ideal resting and overwintering spot for mariners who sail the Salish Sea. 


Today, the economy of Gabriola is centered primarily on tourism, and with the beautiful landscapes and scenery you can find everywhere here it’s easy to see why. 


Located on sunny Gabriola Island, often called the “Isle of the Arts” for its vibrant community of artisans and cultural opportunities, Silva Bay Resort & Marina is a gathering place for boaters, locals and travellers alike in the Salish Sea of British Columbia.  


Silva Bay Resort & Marina offers yacht moorage services and is pleased to provide yacht storage to meet the needs of each of their valued clients, whether their moorage requirements are classified as permanent, winter, or year-round transient. 


Gabriola Island assumes pride of place as the island situated farthest to the north of all of the Southern Gulf Islands. Easily accessible from both Vancouver and nearby Nanaimo, Silva Bay Resort & Marina has earned its place as one of the most prominent yacht moorage locales for mariners passing through the Georgia Strait to and from mainland British Columbia. 

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