Premier Listings for D’Arcy Island Marine Park

D’Arcy Island Marine Park is a tiny 83-hectare island park in Haro Strait, east of the Saanich Peninsula, off Vancouver Island.

From 1894 until 1924, the island was used as a leper colony. Many tried to escape, but few survived. Although the buildings were demolished, ruins of the facilities are still visible. In 1961, D’Arcy Island was established as a marine park.

Fishing, snorkelling and kayaking around the island provide hours of entertainment. The public wharf in Saanichton Bay provides an alternate starting point for canoeists and kayakers heading for D’Arcy Island. Numerous rocks and reefs surround the island and boaters should exercise caution on approaching.

Little D’Arcy Island to the east is private property, please respect it. The park offers 7 wilderness/walk-in campsites, picnic tables and a pit toilet.

All services are available in nearby Sidney.

D’Arcy Island is a part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is one of Canada’s newest national parks. The park protects a portion of British Columbia’s beautiful southern Gulf Islands – a landscape of rocky headlands, forested hills and shorelines studded with colourful tidepools. The park resembles a patchwork quilt of protected lands scattered over 15 larger islands, and many smaller islets and reefs.

History of D’Arcy Island
Island’s infamous legacy began when Victoria’s police and health officers conducted one of their routine sweeps through Chinatown in 1891. Hidden in a small shack behind a store on Fisgard Street, officials found five huddled men bearing obvious signs of leprosy. Victoria’s municipal government responded by quickly gaining provincial support to expropriate D’Arcy Island and turn it into a leper colony.

For the next 33 years the tiny islet was used as an isolated, segregated dumping ground for people with leprosy. Forty-nine people in total, all men, and all but one Chinese, were shipped to the leper colony. The city spent the money to build a six-unit rowhouse for them to live in, and later, some of the leper residents erected separate shacks of their own.

Their only contact with the outside world was a visit from a supply ship. Every three months it dropped off food, clothing and other supplies – including coffins. People were literally stockpiled to die there, in conditions that must have been horrible. The disease strips feeling from the extremities and skin as it eats away the extremities. People with leprosy often suffer injuries and sores because they can’t feel when something is wrong.

Nevertheless, the lepers of D’Arcy Island would fetch water for their homes from about 70 metres away. They cleared and planted a garden about one acre in size. The Chinese had a cultural organization and a structure that allowed them to live in a co-operative way and care for each other right up to the time they died and were buried.

D’Arcy Island finally ended as a leper colony in 1924, when the federal government shut it down and moved the remaining residents to Bentinck Island near Race Rocks, and closer to medical quarantine facilities, which operated until 1957. In the 1960’s the federal government sent workers to D’Arcy Island to burn the leper’s houses.

In October 2000, the island’s sad history was recalled when Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe unveiled a small plaque near the spot where the lepers lived. The plaque bears the name of 13 men, all Chinese, “and four others – names unknown” who died on the isolated island.

Nearby Regions & Towns

Park Notices

More Information
Parks Canada – British Columbia
Box 129, 23433 Mavis Avenue
Fort Langley, BC, V1M 2R5
Phone: 604-513-4777

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
2220 Harbour Road
Sidney, BC, V8L 2P6
Phone: 250-654-4000

Premier Listings

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Genoa Bay Marina
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Genoa Bay Marina offers lush tree-lined shores, towering vistas, and sheltered moorage. Our prices are affordable, and our services include Transient and Permanent Moorage, a General and Marine Store, Car and Video/DVD rental, Laundry, Showers and Washrooms, Fax service, Postal services, Internet and email access, and the Genoa Bay Cafe. Shipwright and Mechanical services are also available.

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Sidney Waterfront Inn & Suites
9775 First Street Sidney BC V8L 3E1 Home Phone: 250-656-1131Home Fax: 250-656-9396Work Phone: 1-888-656-1131Visit Website

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The Sidney Waterfront Inn & Suites in charming Sidney by the Sea is conveniently located at the foot of Beacon Avenue, 20 minutes from Victoria, close to Butchart Gardens, BC Ferries (Vancouver), and Victoria International Airport, and only two blocks from the Anacortes Ferry (Washington). Ten Deluxe accommodations and 26 Standard rooms and Suites. Superb ocean views from your balcony, only feet from the ocean. Spa, Waterfront Restaurant, Liquor store, Whale Watching, and Kayak and Diving Adventures are all available on site.

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Orca Spirit Adventures
Trip Departures: Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel – Marina Level 146 Kingston Street Victoria BC V8V 1V4 Home Phone: 250-383-8411Home Fax: 250-383-4666Work Phone: 1-888-672-6722Visit Website

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Victoria’s Original and Authentic Whale Watching Experience will stay with you for a lifetime. You’ll come to face to face with some of nature’s most spectacular creatures — orcas, humpbacks, porpoises, sea lions, seals, and bald eagles. It’s something that has to be seen to be believed.

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Cedarwood Inn & Suites
9522 Lochside Drive Sidney BC V8L 1N8 Home Phone: 250-656-5551Work Fax: 250-656-1551Work Phone: 1-877-656-5551Visit Website

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Set among award-winning gardens in a quiet, residential area of Sidney-By-The-Sea, The Cedarwood provides waterfront accommodation with a difference. We are close to the world-renowned Butchart Gardens and within walking distance to the San Juan Islands ferries. Enjoy spectacular views of the ocean, Olympic Mountains and Mount Baker. Just five blocks away, there are restaurants, cafés, banks, shops and grocery stores.

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SpringTide Charters
1119 Wharf Street At Historic Bastion Square Victoria BC V8W 1T7 Home Phone: 250-384-4444Home Fax: 250-658-0779Work Phone: 1-800-470-3474Visit WebsiteVisit Blog

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SpringTide Whale Watching is family owned and operated with an office perfectly located in the heart of downtown Victoria. We have shared Vancouver Island’s marine ecosystems with visitors for over 21 years, earning a local and international reputation for excellence in Whale Watching, Eco Tours and Special Event Charters.

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Want another terrific experience while visiting Victoria? Then SPORTFISH year round for Salmon and Halibut on SpringTide’s 42’ Sportfisher. We are open all year, offering whale watching tours seven days a week April through October, and our Zodiac Marine Wildlife Tours November through March.

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Sidney Whale Watching
#105, 2537 Beacon Avenue Sidney BC V8L 1Y2 Home Phone: 250-656-7599Work Phone: 1-888-656-7599Visit WebsiteVisit Blog

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Sidney Whale Watching offers whale watching and wildlife sightseeing Tours and charters for killer whales (Orcas), sea birds, seal colonies, and other marine life. Three to three and a half hour tours start right from Sidney’s waterfront, near the highest percentage of Orca sightings and porpoise and dolphin feeding grounds. The seas in Sidney are much calmer than Victoria or Vancouver due to it being protected by the Gulf Islands. Waterfront kayak tours, kayak rentals, and kayaking lessons. Five minutes from ferry terminals and airport, with free airport and ferry pick up.

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Five Star Whale Watching Adventures
651 Humboldt Street Victoria BC V8W 1A6 Home Phone: 250-388-7223Home Fax: 250-388-5474Work Phone: 1-800-634-9617Visit Website

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Five Star Whale Watching helps you discover the picturesque southern Vancouver Island, Victoria, and the Gulf Islands, home to the largest population of Killer Whales (Orcas) in the world. Come aboard one of our two 40-passenger Expedition Catamarans, each of which combines comfort, speed, safety, and your choice of 3 viewing platforms. With 20 years experience watching whales we offer more that just a “point and photograph” tour.

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Eagle Wing Tours Whale Watching
Fisherman’s Wharf Near Pier #2 Next to Barb’s Fish And Chips Victoria BC V8W 3H9 Home Phone: 250-384-8008Work Phone: 1-800-708-9488Visit Website

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We are Wild 4 Whales!
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