Mayne Island History

40 million years ago

Mayne Island is formed

The earth’s shifting tectonic plates were thrusting Mayne Island out of the sea. Since then, Mayne Island’s history has evolved.

5,000 years ago

Oldest settlement in SGI

Helen Point Peninsula contains the oldest recorded human settlement remains in the Southern Gulf Islands. (estimated at 5,000 years).

Indigenous people were fishing in Active Pass, around Helen Point as long ago as 3,000 BC.


Capt George Vancouver visits Mayne

Spanish explorers visited in the late eighteenth century, giving Spanish names to Galiano, Juan de Fuca Strait, and the San Juan Islands.

in 1794, Captain George Vancouver camped on Georgina Point where his crew left a coin and a knife found over a century later by early settlers.


Mayne Island named and surveyed

In the 1850s, Captain George Richards of the Royal Navy began surveying the area aboard H.M.S. Plumper. He named our island after his lieutenant, Richard Charles Mayne, and he named the pass between Mayne and Galiano after his ship but changed his mind when he learned that the American survey ship U.S.S. Active had been the first steam vessel to navigate the pass.


Early Homesteaders

In 1859 the earliest homesteaders registered land claims in the Miners Bay area in 1859. Miners Bay owes its name to the adventurers bound for the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1858, the halfway stop between Vancouver Island and the mouth of the Fraser River.

Late 1800s

Commercial and Social Centre

Mayne Island was both the commercial and social centre of the Gulf Islands. The port at Miners Bay was always busy due to the steady stream of marine traffic travelling through Active Pass. The historic village at Miners Bay is still the commercial centre of the island, with the annual Fall Fair still being held at the old Agricultural Hall like so many years before.


First Community Hall in the Outer Islands

Marie Elliot’s 1984 book “Mayne Island & The Outer Gulf Islands, A History” (page 27), mentions that the first community hall in the outer islands was erected in Miner’s Bay, “circa 1899 — the precise date is uncertain”. (This book can be obtained through Miner’s Bay Books – 250 539-3112)

June 1885

Lighthouse lit

The light’s first keeper was Henry “Scotty” Georgeson who lit up the light for the first time in June 1885. Within two months he wrote his superior asking for a fog horn. A bell was later installed, followed by a fog horn. Scotty’s son, George, later became his assistant.


Church Founded

Canon Paddon founded the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.



In the 1890s Working farms began

Apple orchards flourished before the turn of the century and the Mayne Island King Apple was among the first planted in B.C.


Springwater Lodge

Springwater Lodge, established in 1892 is situated at the head of Miners Bay Wharf in Active Pass, on Mayne Island. The Springwater Lodge is the oldest continuously operated hotel in British Columbia.

Built in 1892, The Springwater was originally a private home. At the head of the Government Wharf in Miners Bay, the owner began to offer rooms for lodgers by 1895. It started out as a boarding house for miners, thus the name of the community in which it is located. Later it was turned into a hotel and renamed Grandview Lodge.


Plumper Pass Lockup

In 1896 the Plumper Pass Lockup was built to cool off those whose tempers were not soothed by either the church or the saloon. The gaol is now a small museum. The Mayne Museum is a small building. It displays the rich history of Mayne Island. Located at Fernhill and Minty Roads in Miner’s Bay Village (beside the thrift store). Mayne Island Museum’s Online Collection.


Canadian Pacific Railway

Canadian Pacific Railway Ferries originally stopped at Miner’s Bay in Active Pass, dating back to the early 1900s.

The Agricultural Hall is the focal-point for island society 90 years ago, and is still today. Today, many plays and showings of art are held there.


Tomato Industry

Richard Hall, the Tomato King, on his return from World War I, built a greenhouse so large the horse drawn cultivators could be driven through it and the loading of his produce disrupted the schedules of the island steamers leaving Mayne. Japanese settlers followed his example and the greenhouse tomato business flourished until the start of World War II when the Japanese were forced to move away from the coast to other parts of Canada.

History of Japanese Settlers on Mayne Island

Many years ago, Mayne Island was home to an active, successful Japanese community until World War II, when they were taken away to war camps in the interior of B.C. for fear of espionage. They played a very important role in our colourful history. (See the Japanese Gardens)

Former farmhouse, now restaurant

This house (located on Village Bay Road near the Mayne Street Mall) was once a Japanese farmhouse owned by Kumozo Nagata. He also grew hothouse tomatoes in the Campbell Bay area and founded the cooperative “Active Pass Grower’s Association” which grew and packed “Island Brand Tomatoes and Cucumbers”, a large, successful tomato growing company once situated on Georgina Point Road.

More information about the Mast and the Japanese Community on Mayne Island.

Centennial Well

The centennial well is a centennial celebration monument. Located on Horton Bay Road just past Fernhill Road.

The New Agricultural Hall Sign

A brief history of the horseshoe:

Photo by Brian Haller

Jimmy Drysdale was Mayne Island’s blacksmith in the early 20th century, whose valuable talents were also called to Saturna & Galiano. His blacksmith shop still stands on Hardscrabble Farm and in the late 20th century became director Philp Borsos studio, for his shooting here of the Disney film Yellow Dog. The Borsos family still own the farm.

Jimmy Drysdale finished his trade before WW11 and the horseshoe in the new Ag Hall sign somehow clipclopped its way to the old Heck farmstead, now Richard and Maggie Brown’s Windover Farm. There in the mid seventies Ron Pither was helping Wilbert Deacon clean out an old farm implement shed, and as luck would have it he received the horseshoe and its lore, adding it to an old shovel and pitchfork collection. Now 30 years later they’ve been recycled into our own local sign language.

The following people are to be thanked for the new sign:

Michael Sharp from Puddle Lane Blacksmith Shop on Galiano Island for forging a magnificent frame. Shea Morgan from Galiano Island for his input on the agricultural theme. Ron Pither from Varalaya Farm here on Mayne for donating the horseshoe, shovel, and pitchfork. Don Grant from “Out of the Woods” for the design and painting of the wooden sign. Richard Brown from JJM Road Maintenance for the placement of the sign. The Mayne Island Farmers Market for their financial contribution. And finally the Agricultural Society for their financial contribution, patience and good wishes.

Don McDougall
Deacon Vale Farm

Kadonga Bay


Kadonga Bay

This project was taken on by Jeanine Dodds on behalf of the Mayne Island Community. The idea came from Mildred Emmett’s oral history (available at the Mayne Island Library) where she stated that it was unfortunate no place names existed to recognize the early Japanese settlers. Together they chose the bay on the South side and the particular name. Kadonaga will now show on all new official maps.

Origin Notes and History

Adopted 24 April 2007 on 92B/14, as proposed by trustee Jeanine Dodds, Islands Trust, on behalf of the community of Mayne Island, and endorsed by Mayne Island Conservancy Society, Association of Mayne Island Boaters, Gulf Islands Branch of the BC Historical Federation and various property owners in the immediate vicinity.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC’s Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Sometimes called “Eddy’s Bay” by members of the Eddy family, who own property here. Called “Arbutus Bay” in 1973 by property owner and developer Paula Buchholz, whose self-titled company Arbutus Bay Estates Ltd subdivided parcels here, and continues to maintain guest/rental cottages. Neither name is in use by the general public on Mayne Island according to trustee Jeanine Dodds, although “Arbutus Bay” and “Arbutus Bay Estates” is marketed by principle P. Buchholz.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC’s Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Kadonaga Bay recalls Goan Kadonaga, the first Japanese settler to arrive on Mayne Island, as well as symbolizing and recognizing the settlement history of all the Japanese settlers who made important contributions to the economic and social fabric of the island community before their removal in World War II.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC’s Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Gontaro (Goan) Kadonaga was the first Japanese settler on Mayne Island, arriving in 1903. He had purchased the 160-acre property named St. Johns Point on the eastern tip of Mayne Island from James C. Campbell some three years previous to this time. Goan’s brother, Kinzo, had arrived at the same time. Another Japanese family, the Sasaki’s, had no sons and when Kenzo married into the Sasaki family he took their name as his. In 1921, Goan (or perhaps Goan and Kinzo) divided his/their property into 2 lots, giving the northern section to Goan’s eldest son Toru and the southern section to Kinzo’s eldest son Kwanichi.

Mayne Island was a unique community prior to World War II. Many Japanese families had settled here [and] approximately one third of its population were of Japanese descent. Some relied on fishing and there was a fish saltery at Dinner Bay. Other families farmed, raising chickens and growing tomatoes under some 8 acres of glass in various locations on the island. Much of the economic activity occurring on Mayne Island at this time was attributed to the hard working and respected Japanese families.

On Tuesday April 21, 1942, the CPR steamer Princess Mary came for the 50 Japanese men, women and children who waited on the Miners Bay wharf. Most of the Mayne Island residents were in attendance to shake hands and wish them well. It was a sad time for all…. The descendants of [the Kadonaga and Sasaki families] continue to visit their original farms [and a family gravesite] with the support of the current owners….” (June 2006 letter from trustee Jeanine Dodds, Islands Trust, file V.1.38). Also on file: schematic diagram of 16 properties purchased by early Japanese settlers, chronology of settlement provided by Roger Sasaki, and an artist’s rendering of the Kadonaga homestead, published in Canadian Geographic Magazine, Nov/Dec 2003, p.94.

BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC’s Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office
Map location

The Honouring Figure

Honouring Figure

Unveiled on June 28, 2009, the Honouring Figure, based on a traditional Coast Salish Welcome Figure was carved by local carver, John Aitken, and erected in Emma and Felix Jack Park. More information

History of the Mayne Island Community Library

BC Historical News

Article about John Aitken, Amateur Photographer by Marie Elliott

The above information was found in a variety of places.
Please Email Us if you find any inaccuracies or
if you have information which can be added to this page.

Thanks to Lynne Nagata for information she provided
and Brian Haller for the collage of the Honouring Figure.