THIS CANADIAN LIFE | It’s one for The Bucket List
—or The Buried Life for those who watch MTV. If you live in British Columbia or visit here and do not have an adventure on the water or an island off our coastline, you’ve missed things that are truly original and magical about this place.
Seriously, sailing around the Strait of Georgia or bouncing along in a powerboat on a blue-sky day rivals any experience you could ever have in the islands and waters around Greece. The only thing better would be for your craft to be wending its way towards for your own private island, which it could be if your destination were South Winchelsea.
South Winchelsea Island, one of 19 islands that make up the Ballenas-Winchelsea Archipelago, is a 25-minute water taxi ride from Schooner Cove near Nanaimo. It is 25 unspoiled acres of stunning wilderness that include a rare and fragile Arbutus-Garry Oak ecosystem. Ringed by a rocky shoreline, it is a preferred haul-out area for California and Steller sea lions. It is also the resting and nesting place for many species of migratory birds; three bald eagles call South Winchelsea home.
You’ll call it home too, if you take up temporary residence at the island’s only dwelling, a rental cabin tucked up tight to the water’s edge at the northwest end. Your solar-powered home will sleep six in three bedrooms (you’ll need to bring bedding—and food, of course). It has a skylight, solar-powered electric lighting, a full-size bathroom with a hot water shower, and a kitchen equipped with a propane refrigerator and stove.
South Winchelsea’s cabin is plain modern, not crumbly rustic; it’s in fine shape as these sorts of accommodation go. That’s because it’s managed and maintained by The Land Conservancy (known as TLC), a nonprofit land trust that protects and maintains important properties and landscapes in British Columbia, many of them available to rent.
The cost for a night on South Winchelsea Island from April through September: a surprisingly reasonable $275 with a two-night minimum (you can reduce your rate by 10 percent if you join TLC). For this amount you and five others will be ferried to (and from) your island kingdom by a skipper who won’t leave until he knows that you know how to operate everything in the cabin, including the island’s marine radio.—C. Rule
For more information about staying at South Winchelsea Island (there are still days available in July and August) and other TLC properties, visit http://blog.conservancy.bc.ca/ecotourism/cottage-rentals/