Largely undeveloped, Lasqueti Island lies southwest of Texada Island, a short distance across the Strait of Georgia from Parksville and Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. The island is a quaint and eccentric little community of self-reliant homesteaders who enjoy the island’s mild climate and relative isolation.
Lasqueti Island was occupied by Natives from the Pentlach Band at the time of the first settlement by Europeans in 1860.
Aboriginal artifacts have been found on the island, and middens (ancient mounds of discarded shellfish shells) can still be found near many of the island’s beaches. The island was named in 1791 after Juan Maria Lasqueti, a prominent Spanish naval officer.
The 68-square-kilometre Lasqueti Island is 5 km wide and 21 km long, and is travelled on quiet and unpaved roads. As no cars are carried on the ferry, any exploring you do on Lasqueti will be by taxi, by foot or on a bicycle. Farmland is poor, and there is very little industry on the island, other than a company that designs and builds fishing seiners, and a few clam and oyster farming ventures. A hotel, a campsite and a B&B accommodate visitors.
False Bay, the location of the island’s ferry terminal, is also Lasqueti’s tiny commercial centre, and the gateway to a paddler’s paradise of coves, offshore reefs, islets and islands. The wonderful silence that envelops these islands is characteristic of the ambience in remote locales on the central coast of British Columbia.
One of the charms of Lasqueti Island is being presented with a kerosene lamp or a candle at nightfall, as generators are turned off at night. With no hydroelectric power on the island, resorting to lighting methods reminiscent of the pioneer days adds to the wonderful feeling of isolation and distance from all things modern and complicated. Pretty romantic too!
Location: Lasqueti Island is located southwest of Texada Island, reached by foot passenger ferry from the ferry terminal at French Creek, located between Parksville and Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. The Visitor Centres in these two locations can provide details of the ferry schedule. You may leave your car in the pay parking area at French Creek, as many Lasqueti residents do.
Clam beaches, caves and eagles’ nests can be found on the north end of Lasqueti Island, at Scottie Bay and Spring Bay.
Kayaking: The eight little bays and the many secluded beaches along Lasqueti’s shoreline are fabulous for exploring by kayak or boat. If you bring your own kayak with you, BC Ferries will treat it as hand baggage, and no fee is charged.
Biking: The gravel roads on Lasqueti Island are popular with mountain bikers, and for those who journey the 15-km length of Lasqueti Island, the ride winds up in Squitty Bay Provincial Park. You’ll be ready to drink from the freshwater pump in the park’s picnic area by the time you arrive here.
Squitty Bay Provincial Park offers picnicking and swimming, located 9 miles (15 km) south of the ferry dock at False Bay. Picnic tables are arrayed among the spray-shaped forest of Douglas fir and strawberry arbutus (madrona). This idyllic location overlooks two narrow coves where the water is clear, green, and warm in summer months. A portion of the park is fenced off to protect it from the feral sheep that graze all over the island. Years ago, a small meadow was cleared above the beach at Squitty Bay, where there are still signs of an old orchard.
Ecological Reserve: There’s an interesting adjacent ecological reserve adjacent to Squitty Bay. Walk out on the headland to a rock cairn, from where you look southeast to Vancouver and distant Mount Baker, and west to the Comox Valley, surmounted by the white expanse of the Comox Glacier. Be careful where you walk and sit, as ground-hugging prickly pear cacti grow here alongside Rocky Mountain juniper, far from its montane habitat. Sunny weather and sandy soil are what attract it here, as it keeps company with some magnificent old-growth Douglas fir. When foxglove and yellow cornflowers bloom here in early summer, this is a delightful place to visit. Despite its prickly appearance, please respect the delicacy of this special environment.
Off the eastern shore of Lasqueti Island lies Jedediah Island, once a private holding and now a Marine Provincial park with forest trails, white-sand beaches and an old homestead. Part of Jedediah Island’s charm is that it is not easy to reach. Access to the park is by boat from nearby Lasqueti Island, a 30-minute paddle in calm water across Bull Passage. If you’re paddling the 18-km route from False Bay on Lasqueti to Jedediah Island, plan on taking six hours. Visitors are free to camp anywhere on Jedediah – some of the best sites are near the shoreline around Long Bay, but informal campsites abound around the sheltered shores of both Long Bay and Home Bay.