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Home / Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands / Southern Gulf Islands / Pender Island

Pender Island

A Step Back in Time

Pender Island was named by Captain Richards for Staff Commander (later Captain) Daniel Pender, R.N. who surveyed the coast of British Columbia aboard the Plumper, the HMS Hecate and the Beaver from 1857 to 1870.

Pender Island consists of two islands, North Pender and South Pender, which are separated by a narrow canal originally dredged in 1903. In 1955 the islands were connected by a one lane bridge, as it remains today. North Pender was the scene of rivalry for many years between Hope Bay and Port Washington, where the first wharf was built in 1891. Both sites lobbied for the ferry and post office, and both won - on and off. The first postmaster, Washington Grimmer, brought the mail to North Pender by rowboat from Mayne Island.

Now the rivalry is gone and both locations, still steeped in history with their red "government docks" and country stores are popular destinations for locals and tourists.


Pender Island is one of the Southern Gulf Islands located in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver on the British Columbia mainland and Victoria on Vancouver Island. Pender is only a 40-minute ferry ride from the BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay near Victoria, and less than 2 hours on the ferry from Tsawwassen near Vancouver. You can also experience the beauty of the Southern Gulf Islands by float plane which will get you to Pender Island in significantly less time.

Things to Seeand Do
  • Pender Island Museum

When Parks Canada acquired Roesland, the original homestead had sadly deteriorated and was close to collapse as many of the foundation posts had rotted away. Parks Canada offered the use of the building to the Pender Island Museum Society and so began a two year restoration process. The museum was officially opened in 2005 and showcases Pender Island's history.

  • Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve consists of lands on 16 islands, plus numerous small islets and reef areas in British Columbia's southern Gulf Islands. With a total area of 33 km2 (including a 25-metre intertidal zone), it is Canada's 5th smallest national park. The waters surrounding or adjacent to park lands, extending 200 metres seaward from the natural boundary of the lands, are also protected and managed by Parks Canada. The parks that form part of the Gulf Islands National Park reserve include Mt. Norman, Beaumont Park and Greenburne Lake on South Pender and Roe Lake, Roesland, Prior Centennial Park and Mt. Menzies on North Pender. Recreational opportunities include boating, kayaking, camping, picnicking, hiking and simply enjoying the many sheltered beaches.

  • Tour Art Studios and Cultural Heritage

The Gulf Islands are renowned for their artists as well as for their magnificent scenery. Throughout the islands, there are many painters, sculptors, potters, musicians, and authors, as well as craftspeople of all types. The locations of private and commercial galleries are often available on island maps, and some of the islands have recommended walking or driving tours.

  • Walking & Hiking

Pender Island has over 60 walking and hiking trails from beach strolls to logging roads and uphill climbs. One of the most beautiful is the hike from Roesland on North Pender over to Roe Lake and down to Shingle Bay. Mt. Norman trail offers panoramic views, and Medicine Beach, Bricky Bay, and Mortimer Spit are excellent for nature viewing as well as scenic views.

  • Cycling

Bicycles can be rented and repaired on the Penders. Although most of the islands are hilly, there are circular tours and a few routes that take cyclists away from most of the traffic, even in summer.

  • Wine Tasting

Morning Bay Vineyard & Estate Winery has won several awards and is the only winery on Pender Island which is a relatively new wine growing area. The winery offers daily wine tasting and tours and hosts the annual Winestock Music Festival.

  • Golfing

Pender offers a traditional 9-hole public golf course. The course is deceptively challenging, with 6 separate tees for the back nine, yet it is a great recreation destination course for all handicappers. Pender also boasts a 27-hole championship and internationally famous disc golf course, commonly known as Frisbee golf which is free to the public.

  • Kayaking

Kayakers wishing to paddle to the popular and easy-to-reach Beaumont Marine Park in Bedwell Harbour can launch from Medicine Beach on North Pender, and the government Pender Island - Kayaking at Poets Cove Resort & Spa on South Pender Island - Andrea Johnsondock at Bedwell Bay on South Pender. Allow 30 minutes to make the 1.6-kilometre (1-mile) paddle from either location. For those who come with car-top or hand-carried boats, there are numerous places to launch. Nearby paddle destinations include the western shores of Pender Island, Princess Margaret (Portland Island) and James Bay (Prevost Island), part of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, both of which boast marine parks. Ocean kayaking lessons and guides knowledgeable about local wildlife and waterfowl are available throughout the year.

Nearby Communities
Contact Information

Pender Island Visitor Guide
Web: www.penderislandchamber.com

Pender Island Guide
Web: www.penderisland.info



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Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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