Bowen Island is located near the mouth of Howe Sound
, near to Keats Island
and Gambier Island
, and 5km
from Horseshoe Bay
, part of Greater Vancouver
's Lower Mainland
, in British Columbia
. It is home to 3,000 permanent residents, and hosts 1,500 more in the summer
. The island's mayor is Lisa Barrett
Bowen Island was home to the Squamish First Nations tribe. The island was first mentioned by Europeans following the July 1791 arrival of the Spanish explorer Narvaez. Narvaez charted the outlines of Passage Island, the Pasley Islands, and Bowen Island. His commander named what is now Bowen Island "Isla de Apodaca". In 1860, Captain George Henry Richards renamed the island after Rear Admiral James Bowen. In 1874, William Eaton was the first caucasian to claim land on the island; a section of some 64ha to the south of Killarney Lake.
From the 1880s, tourists came to the island to camp, and go boating, and visit the picnic grounds. Tourism has always been the island's primary industry, though others have included brick making, logging, dynamite manufacturing, and copper mining.
In 1900, Captain Jack Cates bought 320 acres of land near Deep Bay, then enlarged his fleet of steamships. As Cates became wealthier, he bought 520 further acres, and added a general store, and a resort. This made it practicable for daytrippers to come from Vancouver. When the property was sold, the new owners added cottages, trails, and more picnic grounds. In 1921, steamships began running frequently between the island and the mainland. In May 1957, a car ferry was started. Bowen Island has since been built upon, largely around Snug Cove, with restaurants, schools, grocery stores, marinas, pubs, gift shops, art stores, a gas station, bookstore, library, hairdresser, building centre, and a garden centre.
Popular diversions on Bowen Island include sea kayaking, or hiking in any of three large parks; the 240ha day use Crippen Regional Park, Mt. Gardner Park (a 756m climb), and the Ecological Reserve.
Named geographic features of the island counterclockwise from Snug Cove on the east are Deep Bay, Miller's Landing, Cates Bay, Hood Point, Smuggler's Cove, Grafton Bay, the tiny Hutt Island, Galbraith Bay, Arbutus Point, Tunstall Bay, Cowan Point, and Apocada Provincial Marine Park.