British sailors surveying the area in 1851 cruised into a tiny group of five unnamed islands, naming the two largest after their Captain Augustus Leopold Kuper and his frigate, HMS Thetis, a 36-gun Royal Navy frigate on the Pacific Station between 1851 and 1853. In Greek mythology, Thetis was a Neriad, a sea nymph, and daughter of Zeus. Island life on Thetis Island is relaxed, rural, peaceful and crime-free, all within reasonable reach of urban centres on southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
Thetis was first settled in 1874, primarily by British pioneers, following an offer of land by the government. The first wave of settlers purchased land and arrived between 1874 and 1886. Of these first settlers, none established permanent homes, and several met tragic deaths in the harsh conditions of those early days. The second wave of settlers arrived in the 1890s and 1900s some of whose descendents still live on Thetis.
A Mediterranean combination of mild winters and warm, dry summers supports a unique ecosystem and provides an ideal environment for outdoor recreation. Thetis Island is in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island, having an annual rainfall of about 850 mm, with delightful rural scenes, beautiful shoreline, crystal clear waters, and wonderful views.
A relaxing retreat, especially popular in the summer, the permanent residents of Thetis Island welcome visitors to enjoy the diverse recreational opportunities, including scuba diving, fishing, swimming, boating, cruising and kayaking. On land, beach exploration, golfing, bird watching, and hiking attracts visitors to the island.
Thetis Island and Kuper Island, now called Penelakut Island, were originally joined by mud flats until 1905, when a passage was dredged to allow boat traffic to pass, now known as Canoe Pass. Thetis Island is about two miles wide and three miles long (1,035 Hectares/2,560 acres in area). Two north-south ridges define the east and west of the Island, with Burchell Hill at 591 feet forming the high point on the west, and Moore Hill at 585 feet on the east.
Entirely privately owned, with the exception of 9 miles of public roads and 12 miles of public shoreline, Thetis Island is mainly forested, with some farmlands, meadows and wetlands. There are no parks, but there are many public access points to the oceanfront and the easily hiked western shoreline.
Local facilities include a community centre, pub and restaurant, Post Office, a general store, a liquor store, a garden nursery, two marinas, and a well-equipped volunteer fire department. Visitors to Thetis Island should not rely on debit or credit cards for purchases, as some items, like alcohol, can only be purchased with cash.
Location: Thetis Island is located in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, between Vancouver Island and the mainland of BC. Thetis Island is served by a direct seaplane service from Vancouver and Victoria, and BC Ferries operates a scheduled vehicle and passenger ferry service from Chemainus to Thetis Island and Penelakut Island, with a minimum of 10 daily round trip circular sailings. Sailing Times are 25 minutes between Chemainus and Thetis Island, 15 minutes between Thetis and Penelakut Islands, and 26 minutes between Penelakut Island and Chemainus.