Sandwiched between Lasqueti and Texada Islands lies the near 300-hectare island of Jedediah. A paddler can reach the island from the west along the new proposed Coast Salish Sea Marine Trail
from Texada or east from Lasqueti Island. From North Thormanby Island to the tip of Texada requires an 8.9 km or 4.8 nautical mile crossing. It’s another 5 km approximately to reach the pristine campsite of Home Bay on Jedediah. The marine trail, originating in Horseshoe Bay, has one long stretch from Plumper Cove Provincial Park (nearest campsite) to Thormanby Island though there are many day use sites along this section (see BC Marine Trails map). From the west, the crossing from Ballenas Island, situated near Vancouver Island, to Lasqueti Island has another significant crossing of 11 km. Reaching Jedediah Island from either direction requires good skills especially around interpreting the weather and sea state.
In 1998, I ventured to Jedediah accompanied by my wife and son (12 years old) and Gary, Teesh and his daughter Katherine (12 years old) on a charter water taxi trip. We weren’t restricted by kayak space so it took several wheelbarrows of food and gear to get everything from the car to the boat. The 24-km trip from Nanoose Bay was relaxing on a warm sunny summer day. The operator moored in nearby Codfish Bay and we loaded our gear into an inflatable dinghy. The two families launched their kayaks and reached Home Bay sooner than the first load of gear, much to the delight of the kids. Of course, we had a head start. It’s best to arrive there at high tide because it’s a shallow bay. Low tide means you have to carry your gear a fair distance.
This trip was a favourite for a number of reasons: beautiful pristine island, a great camping location, pioneer history, hiking, kayaking, Spanish-explorer goats, and Will-the-horse. Today Will is long passed away but certainly inscribed into the yesteryears of Jedediah.
The park was established in 1995 after being sold by Mary Palmer, the author of Jedediah days: one woman's island paradise, a BC bestseller. Mary and her husband had purchased the island in 1949. Mary had two dreams: to own a paradise and to preserve the island. As Mary entered her seventies with second husband, Al, it became impossible to operate a farm. Mary was instrumental in the island becoming a provincial park though the 4.1 million dollars to purchase the island was a hurdle. A large chunk of the money came from the estate of legendary mountain climber, Daniel Culver.
Gale force winds turned our first day into a hiking. The sheep, goats, and ‘Will the horse’ kept a network of trails well-grazed, making our treks about the island, easy. “The main trails are old narrow tractor roads that wind through fields and forests of large trees” (Easykayaker, 2001). On one of my hikes we climbed Mount Gibraltar, which had an elevation of 145 metres. At the top or the highest point of the island sits a rock cairn with a glass jar full of messages and notes. Some of the notes were 100 years old. One more note was added to the collection.
On another hike across Home Bay beach and toward the orchard, we were suddenly accosted by ‘Will the horse’. Many signs on the island warned against feeding him. He was a somewhat aggressive, 30-year old horse and definitely had his own mind and personality. The horse’s approach was fairly rapid: half-trot. We had our own horse, Sheba, at the time, so we were not easily intimidated. The horse ground to a stop in front of us, pushing his stout into our mid-sections looking for food. I had a small pack with some snack bars, but they were cleverly hidden behind my back. Finding nothing, the horse wandered off to greener pastures (or other victims camping nearby).
Will had so much available food he survived well. The apple and plum trees in the orchard had low branches with scores of fruit, ripening.
I explored the coastline, intermittently, nabbing an hour or two of paddling, between wind gusts. The best paddling, of course, was on the last day, when we were being picked up by the charter. While this trip wasn’t a classic adventurous kayaking trip, many of which I completed in following years with friends, it was a memorable, fun adventure with family and friends.