Perhaps you remember Bowen as the Happy Isle for Union Steamship excursions. As a child, you may have visited the cottages. You ate fruit from the heritage apple trees and played in the Davies Orchard. You may have lived in a pink-painted cottage and have fond memories of those days. You helped save the cottages from demolition. You may have been a founding member of our organization. You raised funds for the restoration of Cottage 20, the Museum Cottage, and more. Perhaps you wondered who built the Seaside Cottages. Or perhaps you know.
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Finding History in a Name
Picture yourself as a tourist in an unfamiliar place. You check out the famous attractions and the more adventurous among you wander off the beaten path. Sights that have faded into the background for the native will be fresh to you as a new visitor and many of the names will strike you as odd and sometimes unpronounceable. Maybe you will question where those names came from in the first place.
What if you were a tourist on Bowen Island? Names here give clues to the history of the area just as they do in your far flung travel destinations. Read more about the naming of Bowen Island's places.
Do you know how different areas of Bowen Island came by their names?
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Early History of Grafton Lake
In 1886, Bowen Island had only two settlers, Bill Eaton at Deep Bay, and Wade Beach at Killarney Lake. Then came the Graftons. The family emigrated from London, England, to Canada in 1885. Tom, Will, Dave, Susie, and their widowed mother, Caroline were unable to find “good” land near New Westminster or in what became known as North Vancouver but, finally, in 1889 pre-empted 640 acres on Bowen Island. Read more about the Grafton Family.
Remembering the Cottages
The Seaside cottages have a history which pre-dates the Union Steamship resort. When they were being considered for demolition several years ago, Bowen Heritage was able to convince GVRD Parks staff of their heritage importance. Read more of historian Marion Moore's story.
Winter in the Orchard
It was the end of a long jury trial in New Westminster and the storm was coming in fast. The jury had been instructed by the judge and had been sequestered. The work was over and all we could do was wait—not relax or stop thinking about what had gone on, just wait. There was always other work to do, but it had to be easy, not a lot of concentration. What helped most was to go for walks but not too far and not for long. With sleet and wind outside, that generally left pacing the corridors. Read more of Judi Gedye's story.
A Surprisingly Volatile History
During the Union Steamship Days Bowen Island became known as the “Happy Isle”, a place for holidaymakers in the days when people were starting to venture a little way from home to play in the great outdoors. The origins of Bowen Island as a resort destination go back further than the Union Steamship Company. Captain Cates started bringing people to Bowen Island for picnic excursions with the ships of the Terminal Steamship Company in the early 1900s. Cates set up camping sites among the trees as did William Davies in his orchard. Cates also developed the Terminal Hotel and Terminal Farm to cater to the early tourists. U.S.S.C bought out the Terminal Steamship Company and its holdings in 1920. Read more of Meg McLaughlin's story.
Terminal Farm at the Meadows
Ruins and memories are all that remain of the place once called Terminal Farm and the meadows next to it. The farm once supplied produce to feed the crowds who flocked, or maybe that should be steamed, to the holiday resort that was Bowen Island. Although only its footprint remains, the site retains enough significance to be part of the proposed Heritage Inventory of Bowen Island. Read more of the Terminal Farm story.
Early School Days on Bowen Island
When families first started to settle on Bowen Island there was no school house. In a letter about the early days on Bowen Island, Norah Mannion described her schoolroom as a little old shack at the end of her father's orchard where a succession of governesses taught the Mannion children. When the first governess arrived in Vancouver during a small-pox scare, Norah's father smuggled her off the train in Vancouver. Read more of the Early School Days Story.
Memories of Cowan Point
Cowan Point was known as a summer vacation spot; a community where the same families cam back to their cabins year after year. As Sue Lucas remembered in 1988: "My family started spending summers at Cowan Point in 1948, renting the same cabin year after year from Mrs. E. T. Rogers (nee Cowan). There were six cabins built by George Cowan around 1912 to house their invited guests." Read more of the Cowan Point Story.
Last updated July 2016