Bowen Island’s lively young municipality is made up of more than 30 neighbourhoods. Some are fairly new and some date back to the late 1800s, but each one has made a unique contribution to the physical and community profile of the island.
The island attracts people for many reasons. From the earliest days, it’s been a place to make a living. In the 1870s, logging companies identified Bowen as a terrific place to get first growth timber. Slopes were not too steep and the site was fairly close to the mainland. A number of mining claims were registered and later, Snug Point clay made two brickyards possible. In 1912, a dynamite factory was created on a Tunstall Bay site near the water. The island’s had grocery stores and tea rooms since the turn of the century.
From the late 1800s, Bowen Island was a destination for immigrants, a place to make a new beginning, to pre-empt land and maybe, have a little farm. Dwellers from a host of countries included a small group of Japanese and Chinese laborers, sometimes with their families. Among the early settlers were the Graftons who pre-empted 470 acres which they ultimately sub-divided into 16 lots keeping four forty acre parcels for themselves. The Graftons weren’t the only family to sub-divide: the Millers were selling land in 1909. Professional developers were active as well. The 61 Cliftonville lots were packaged in 1912, Scarborough lots in 1912 and Eagle Cliff in 1913. By the end of 1914, over 300 lots had been created, mostly for summer use.
Many of the first neighbourhoods were established near the water. Not only was water the primary means of transportation to the mainland, it provided enticing water views, easy access to beaches and a source for household use. In the early 1900s, Captain Jack Cates’ Terminal Steamship Company created an affordable summer resort which brought hundreds of visitors to the island. Word spread and in 1920, the Terminal resort was purchased by the Union Steamship Company. Among its many new facilities was an octagonal dance pavilion whose Midnight Cruise dances became a weekend highlight and a Vancouver legend. Into the 1950s, thousands of visitors found pleasure on Bowen Island and many dreamed of a summer home here, away from the big city’s hustle and bustle. Their dreams resulted in the growth of Deep Bay, Scarborough, Miller’s Landing, Mt Gardner, King Edward Bay, Cowan Point, Eagle Cliff, Hood Point, Bluewater and more. In 2013, a full list of Bowen neighbourhoods would include Apodaca Park, Arbutus Point, Artisan Square, Bowen Bay, Cates Hill, Cove Bay, Davies Orchard, Fairweather Point, Galbraith Bay, Hood Point West, The Holdings, Queen Charlotte Heights, Sealeigh Park,Snug Cove, Snug Point, Sunset Park, Timber Grove, Tunstall Bay, Valhalla, The Valley, and Village Square. As Bowen’s population continues to grow, additional housing and facilities are creating a new island . . .a fascinating mixture of neighbours and neighbourhoods.