At the mouth of Pender Harbour in Joe Bay, the historic community of Irvines Landing is a popular tourist and fishing stop named after Charles Irving, who set up a trading post here in 1865, with the establishment of the community in 1880. The communities of Garden Bay, Madeira Park and Irvine’s Landing are known collectively as Pender Harbour.
Until the 1930s, when the Sechelt Highway reached the area, Irvines Landing was a hive of activity, and the main port on Pender Harbour for the steamships of old. Area residents would hear the steam whistle and head to the dock for their mail and supplies.
Today, the lifestyle of Irvines Landing is still centred around the water and the boat launch ramp, with many residents engaged in commercial fishing, sports fishing and pleasure boating. Irvines Landing offers a campsite, and a general store is located at John Henry’s at Hospital Bay.
Location: Irvines Landing is located at the mouth of Pender Harbour off Highway 101 on the Sunshine Coast of BC. The Sunshine Coast is accessible from the rest of the Lower Mainland only by boat or airplane. Travellers aboard BC Ferries leave Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver for the 45-minute ride to Langdale on the Sechelt Peninsula. Highway 101 links Langdale with Irvines Landing, approximately 37 km north of Sechelt off Highway 101 on Garden Bay Road and Irvines Landing Road, a scenic drive through a pastoral farming valley.
Joe Bay is named after Joseph Gonzalos, a Portuguese settler who helped build the landing’s first two permanent buildings – a hotel and a saloon.
In 1929, Union Steamship company vessels were making a 5 to 10-hour run to Irvines Landing from Vancouver three times a week, along the Sunshine Coast of B.C.
The eastern peak of Mount Daniel is of great ceremonial significance to the Sechelt First Nation, whose ancestors used it as a setting for puberty rites. The summit of Mount Daniel (like the cemetery on the waterfront) is a protected archeological site.
Lakes: Four lakes are within a short distance of Irvines Landing; Mixal Lake, Hotel Lake, Katherine Lake and Garden Lake.
Fishing: March is one of the few months on the BC fishing calendar when anglers get to stay home and tidy their tackle boxes, or tie on a fly and try for surface-feeding trout at Garden Bay Lake, Hotel Lake, and Mixal Lake, which are located beside Garden Bay Road, Irvine Landings Road, and Hotel Lake Road, respectively, west of Hwy 101.
Diving: The maze of coves, bays, and islands around Pender Harbour make it the most popular diving spot on the Sechelt Peninsula. You’ll need a boat to reach the four most popular sites at Fearney Bluffs, Nelson Rock, and Anderson and Charles Islands.
Golf: Pender Harbour Golf Course was built with a unique combination of flat and hilly fairways, and water hazards scattered throughout to add challenge to your game. The fairways are tight, with elevated greens and tees that enable you to take in the great views of the surrounding mountains and scenery. Nine holes with four tee boxes allow 18-hole rounds. Covered driving range. Located just five kilometres north of Madeira Park at 13823 Sunshine Coast Highway. British Columbia Golf Specials.
Hiking: Two hiking trails lead to viewpoints overlooking Pender Harbour. Pender Hill (758 feet/231 m) rises sharply from the saltchuk (a Native term for water) above Irvines Landing, while Mount Daniel (1,375 feet/419 m) sits above Garden Bay, with a sweeping panorama of Pender Harbour. Both present moderately difficult, unrelentingly steep hiking. Packing a water bottle (or two) is a must. If time is of the essence, choose the Pender Hill Trail (moderate; 2 miles/3 km return) where a 30-minute cardiovascular workout will have you at the top. Plan on 90 minutes to reach the top of Mount Daniel (moderate; 5 miles/8 km return). Take a map to make sense of the view; NTS 92G/12 is the most detailed. Mount Daniel is too diminutive to be identified on most maps (tell that to someone who’s just made the ascent) but the surrounding lakes and bays are. Mount Daniel is west of Hwy 101 on Garden Bay Rd. Drive some 2 miles (3.5 km), watching for a trail sign on the left side of the road. Park here and hike a short distance along a dirt road to the trailhead. To find the trail for Pender Hill, stay on Garden Bay Road to Irvines Landing Road, then along to Lee Road. Watch for a sign on the right side of Lee Road that announces the trailhead.
Garden Bay Marine Provincial Park is a delightful 163-hectare forested park, a main feature of Garden Bay. A short walk through the forest from the parking lot leads to the shoreline and a dinghy dock for small craft anchored in the sheltered bay. Boaters will find a secure anchorage and good holding. Black Bears inhabit the park’s upland areas.
Katherine Lake Regional Park on Garden Bay Road near Garden Bay and Irvines Landing is a popular freshwater treat in a region dominated by saltwater locales. The sandy beach at this smallest of four local lakes ringed around Pender Harbour will appeal to both swimmers and picnickers. If you like to take an early-morning plunge after a night spent sleeping under the stars, this is where to do it. The park offers a short hiking trail, and a public campsite with vehicle/tent sites and washroom facilities with showers. To find the picturesque Katherine Lake, turn west off Hwy 101 about 3.4 miles (5.5 km) north of Madeira Park. Follow Garden Bay Road about 2.5 miles (4 km) west of the highway to Katherine Lake.
Francis Point Provincial Park protects pristine waterfront on the Francis Peninsula, west of Madeira Park. This extremely fragile and sensitive ecosystem combines the scenic and ecological attributes that have made the Gulf of Georgia world famous; intricate coves, windswept pines, mossy headlands and towering old-growth veteran Douglas fir. The park offers unlimited opportunities for kayaking and swimming, and some of the best diving on the Sunshine Coast. There is a short (one hour) wooded and rocky hiking trail that leads to the viewpoint at the top of the Francis Peninsula, with scenic views of Vancouver Island, Texada Island and the BC Gulf Islands. A branch of the trail leads down to the rocky oceanfront. The proposed park is easily accessible, and features cozy bays suitable for sheltering small craft.
Spipiyus Provincial Park is documented as the oldest closed-canopy temperate rain forest in Canada. The park protects pockets of old-growth Douglas-fir stands, and contains groves of the oldest living Yellow Cedars, Mountain and Western Hemlocks in the world. Also known as the Caren Range, the 2,979-hectare Spipiyus park also protects prime habitat for the Marbled Murrelet, which was found breeding close to the many lakes and in the ancient forests of the Caren Range above Pender Harbour.
The small village of Garden Bay is tucked between Hospital Bay and Garden Bay, 1 mile (1.5 km) from Irvines Landing. Postcard-pretty Garden Bay, with its yacht club, marinas, general store, restaurants and heritage inn, offers a gorgeous setting and terrific ocean views, amongst the prettiest in British Columbia.
Madeira Park is the main shopping centre for the Pender Harbour region, across Pender Harbour from Irvines Landing. The Madeira Park government floats provide over 400 metres of moorage space- only a brief walk from ‘downtown’ Madeira Park.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on a driving Circle Tour. Head north out of Vancouver for the scenic Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour. Board a B.C. Ferries vessel at Powell River that will take you across the waters of the Strait of Georgia to Comox, on Vancouver Island’s east coast. Travel south to Victoria and return to Vancouver by ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen. Circle Tours in British Columbia.