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September 19, 2007

Mowgli Island to Prevost Island


Day 86

12 nautical miles

We had a special morning today on Mowgli Island. Our friend, Delphine, used to own the island and built a log cabin there in the 60s. We got permission to stop by and have a look around the place. The new owner has built a palatial island home, but Delphine’s modest one-room cabin still stands and continues to be lovingly maintained as a guest house.

The island is small, “Just a rock” is how Delphine describes it, but a microcosm of the Gulf Island ecosystem: Salal, Gerry Oak, Douglas Fir, Red Cedar, and all sorts of ferns, mosses and grasses.

We won’t be getting to sleep early tonight since there is a giant commercial group sharing our campsite. It is a school group composed of teenagers, teachers, and guides from “Island Escapes”. Shortly after Becky and I set camp their armada paddled in with 30, count ‘em, 30 kayaks, 40 people and an outboard powered support boat. We’re camping tonight in James Bay, which is part of the Gulf Islands National Park. I’m not familiar with National Park regulations in Canada, but being a ranger for the US Park Service myself, I’m appalled that a commercial group of this size would be allowed to operate in a National Park. Twelve or even fifteen people I could understand, but there is no way to justify a group of 40 as anything other than the gross exploitation of wilderness for profit. Besides, smaller groups are easier to manage, afford better opportunities to view wildlife and learn skills, and allow for better client care. Thankfully, the camping area is in an old apple orchard (good apples too!) and there is plenty of space. However, there is no minimizing the impact of a group that size, particularly when they insist on playing games of tag after dark. Even the adults are shouting and carrying on into the night. Ahh, our last night in Canada.

Since this is the first campsite that Becky and I have shared in 86 days of paddling we just shake our heads, laugh, and head out for a sunset hike. The late night affords us both a chance to catch up in our journals and make good use of the earplugs we’ve been carrying.

Okay, I’m done ranting…

Slack in Boundary Pass is around 2pm tomorrow and 17 nautical miles distant, so the alarm is set for 4am. Tomorrow we paddle in the pre-dawn dark!


Anonymous said...

How funny--I visited Mowgli as Delphine's log cabin was being built. My best friend was the girlfriend of the guy who was building the place and we spent a week up there during it's construction. It was the early
70's not the 60's. Too bad about the current palatial piece--Mowgli was an awesome refuge that I thought might have been spared our cultural obsession with size.

Anonymous said...

I saw the new place on Mowgli this week. It is not small, but I imagine anyone that can afford to buy a gulf island these days is accustomed to something less rustic than the small original cabin. To be fair I would not describe it as palatial or ostentatious. You can hardly see it from the water. And it does not look especially new or glamourous -P

Steve Gray said...

The name of this island, Mowgli, is interesting. At the surface it seems to be a reference to a wild boy, Mowgli, from the 1894 book by Rudyard Kipling, "The Jungle Book." An 1880s article in the Victoria "Colonist" reported that the Government Agent, Marshall Bray, was asked for permission to shoot the "wild man of Horne Lake" to which the official response by Bray was that "it is unlawful to shoot Mowglies within the province of British Columbia at any time." From this 1880s time period the more reasonable interpretation of the island's name is that a sasquatch was seen on the island. It is not unreasonable to expect that one could have swum out to this island. They are known to be strong swimmers, even swimming underwater. Sasquatch were called wild men until the term sasquatch was coined in 1920s in a series of MacLean's magazine articles by J. W. Burns and he based the name on the southwestern B.C. first nation's Salishan word for these creatures.

I just happened to have saved the text of the real estate description of the new building on Mowgli Island and can provide a quote below. It was built in 1992 and is a two-storey, four bedroom, 2000 ft2, and architect-designed building.

"Mowgli Island is improved with a two-storey, west-coast style residence, an older guest cottage, storage shed and a large dock. The main home is a custom built Osburn/Clarke designed residence that was constructed in 1992 by the Island’s current owner. Osburn/Clarke (www.osburnclarke.com) have completed over 100 custom homes, many of which are located in the Gulf Islands. They pride themselves on their ability to practice sensitive, site-specific architecture on sites that are often hostile to human settlement. They have won many awards for their design including the Canadian Wood Council Merit Award for this very home on Mowgli Island, and most recently the Western Living Magazine Residential Design Award in 2007. The main residence is strategically placed on the west side of the island, as to receive the afternoon sun. This side of the island also features the most ideal swimming locations, with easily accessible low bank waterfront. The home is approximately 2,000 square feet in size and features four bedrooms and two full bathrooms. The home has been lovingly maintained by its current owner and is in excellent condition. While the home is more than large enough for a large family and their guests, it features a modest location within the shelter of the trees. The siting of the home hides it beautifully from the water while still providing outstanding views from virtually every part of the house. The interior of the home has a spacious and open floor plan with high ceilings and skylights. Features of the home include log and timber frame construction, fir flooring, extensive use of log beams, a large wood-burning fireplace and a spiral staircase. A piece of artwork in its own right, the impressive spiral staircase is the focal point of the interior of the home and was hand crafted out of a single piece of yellow cedar that was found on the beach of a neighbouring island. The extensive use of wood throughout the home gives it a rustic cottage feel, while still providing for modern amenity, utility and incredible comfort. The home benefits from an abundance of natural light with extensive use of glass throughout. Wall to wall windows in the living and dining areas offer excellent ocean views. These amazing views are carried outside of the home, where approximately 1,000 square feet of decks (both covered and uncovered) surround the home. Interior living space continues to an attached studio space with a separate entrance."

Further reading and references
Is it illegal to kill a sasquatch in B.C.? http://www.courthouselibrary.ca/research/AskedandAnswered/AskedandAnsweredItem.aspx?Id=1046
Mowgli Island: http://www.privateislandsonline.com/mowgli-island-bc.htm (seen Oct. 13, 2011 as sold and today, Sept. 26, 2012, it is no longer listed at this site.)