The entire 243-hectare Jedediah Island is a marine park, Jedediah Island Marine Provincial Park, located between Lasqueti Island and Texada Island in the Sabine Channel of the Strait of Georgia.
It is the largest and most diverse island of a chain of over thirty islands and rocky islets located north and west of Lasqueti Island, and was declared a provincial park in 1995. Jedediah’s isolation and tranquility make it an excellent destination for kayaking and wilderness camping.
In March 1995, the island was purchased from Al and Mary Palmer, who had owned Jedediah Island since 1949. The island has four registered archaeological sites, including an aboriginal fish weir, and is home to old-growth stands of Douglas-fir and arbutus, flat meadow areas, rocky coves, sandy beaches and deep anchorages. Important seabird nest sites and nesting colonies are located in the vicinity.
Those who venture out on the water are rewarded with sheltered provincial wilderness campsites on several marine park islands. It’s difficult to overstate how pleasant it is to stay at any of them. Most of the year, those who make the effort to paddle beyond a Gulf Island federal dock soon have the ocean to themselves. Come warmer weather and mellower seas, hundreds of visitors a day flock to Marine Provincial parks, such as Jedediah Island Provincial Park, which nearby Lasqueti Island residents refer to jokingly as Club Jed. Not that there isn’t plenty of room; it’s just that from October to May, it feels truly luxurious to have so much space in which to play.
Part of Jedediah Island’s charm is that it is not easy to reach. The best approach is from Lasqueti Island. Plan on taking six hours to paddle the 11-mile (18-km) route from False Bay on Lasqueti to Jedediah Island. A good map to consult is Canadian Hydrographic Service Chart L/C 3512, Strait of Georgia. Kayaks may be rented on Lasqueti Island and for a small fee kayakers can be transported across island from the dock at False Bay to Tucker Bay on the east side of the island, which cuts a few hours off the paddling time to Jedediah Island.
What sets Jedediah apart is its size (about 600 acres/240 hectares) – one of the largest island parks in the province – and the fact that visitors can camp on it. Most island parks are intended as way stations and provide sheltered anchorage for those travelling in live-aboard boats. Reaching the park can prove harder than you would imagine. After all, you can see Jedediah from Lasqueti. All that is required is to cross Bull Passage, a 30-minute, 1-mile (1.6-km) paddle in calm water. Gales occasionally gather from out of the south; Lasqueti’s steep-sided coastline (typical of much of the Gulf Islands) offers few safe places to put in along Sabine Channel and the more sheltered waters of Bull Passage. Assess the weather carefully before setting out.
Once across the channel, the best approach is to enter Long Bay where park headquarters are located. Jedediah’s north and south ends are rocky and hilly; most visitors will be content to explore the trails that run through the middle section of the island. An old road crosses the island, linking Long and Home Bays. Unlike many of the nearby islands, Jedediah has never been subjected to wholesale logging; much of the forest cover through which visitors walk is old growth.
An ageing, strawberry-coloured horse and a herd of feral sheep and goats graze in the fields that surround a farmhouse standing above the shoreline at Home Bay. The horse was brought to Jedediah in the 1980s and stayed on after the owners sold out. The weathered house is boarded up now, as are all the outbuildings, but there is still a definite feeling of a working homestead about the place. A shed houses antique farm equipment beside an orchard of gnarled trees that continue to blossom.
The scene is an unusual one to find in a provincial park, and reminiscent of Ruckle Provincial Park at the south end of Saltspring Island, site of one of British Columbia’s first family farms.
Jedediah’s isolation and tranquility make it an excellent destination for kayaking and wilderness camping. Visitors are free to camp anywhere on Jedediah. Some of the best sites are near the shoreline around Long Bay, particularly as the drumming sounds of diesel-driven marine traffic in Sabine Channel don’t reach this side of the island. Informal campsites abound around the sheltered shores of both Long Bay and Home Bay. As well as sites on the clearings above the beaches at both bays, look for a series of trails that runs around Long Bay and a short distance through the forest to several small bays on the east side of the island. There are more campsites along here that may provide more privacy at the height of kayak-touring season. Home Bay is semi-sheltered by Mother Goose Island, which lies just offshore, but it lacks the tranquillity of Long Bay. Both bays teem with shellfish: when the tide goes out, the exposed mudflats are ripe for clam raking. Note that sections of Long Bay are posted as a private oyster lease, so leave these areas undisturbed.
Camping reservations are not accepted at this park, all campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis.