Do you know your Gulf Islands? Here’s help memorizing 14 (of 200)


I am embarrassed to admit this, but I don’t know my Gulf Islands. I can name and roughly place the 13 municipalities that make up Greater Victoria. But, faced with an outline of the Gulf Islands, I can’t identify much more than Salt Spring. On ferry rides, if a visitor asks, what island is that? I am unable to answer.

So, this summer, after a mere 18 years living here, I am making it a project to memorize the Gulf Islands, at least the big ones. If I succeed, I will move on to memorizing the San Juans. Then, I will aim to identify the islands as I ride along the ferry route between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen. Then, a more distant goal: visiting all the Gulf Islands served by B.C. Ferries.

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I invite you to join me in this project if you are equally geographically challenged. To help, I’ve included a rudimentary study guide below. Stripped down loops were the way I dealt with memorizing things for university geography classes, so I’m using that technique here.

Again, I’m only memorizing the big islands. The Encyclopedia of B.C. says there are about 200 Gulf Islands; that’s too daunting. So, I’m going with a very manageable 14 islands. To help with locations, I’m going to memorize them in an order that roughly forms an S.

Like this: Thetis, Penelakut, Salt Spring, North Pender, South Pender, Saturna, Mayne, Galiano, Valdes, Gabriola, Lasqueti, Hornby, Denman, Texada.

It’s only 14 islands, one more than the number of Greater Victoria municipalities. It shouldn’t be that hard. Though, it did take me about a year to rattle off those municipalities with minimal stumbling. (They are: Saanich, Oak Bay, Victoria, Esquimalt, Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin, Highlands, Sooke, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney.)

Gulf Islands loop map

The big Gulf Islands: a diagram, not a map

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