Tour of Ganges, Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island is the hub of the Gulf Islands, Ganges is the main town and it is located centrally at the head of a lovely large bay. This is the home of artist Jill Louise Campbell and sight of inspiration for many paintings.
As a way to connect and help you plan your next adventure when the time is right, or just see what life is like on the island. I have created this photo tour that shares island favourites and also intertwines the Salt Spring Island artwork of Jill Louise Campbell.
The Island local economy and visitors to the island support the great concentrated collection of artist, craftspeople, growers and bakers. I won’t cover everything, but I will frequently revisit and add to this guide and make changes as I see them. Don’t hesitate to connect with any questions and comments, we love to hear about your experience visiting the island.
British Columbia is currently in a period of restricted travel, we support this and care about each other, the boarders for travel is our Health Authority. Salt Spring Island is a perfect day trip and home away from home for many, without excessive travel.
I love to your the Island by bike, especially electric bike! This is a view of the Vesuvius Ferry Terminal.
Welcome to Ganges, I hope you enjoy this tour and information about the Island, it is based on my favourite spots, personal opinion and local experience. I hope it will help you plan a trip to visit us for the first time, or bring back lovely memories from past visits to the island.
Ganges is the bustling main town on the island full of unique shops, food places, famous Saturday Market, great shops, historic points of interest and small town charm. The town is also a great port of call for boaters.
The Jill Campbell Gallery has been welcoming visitors for over 25 years, located on the boardwalk in Ganges.
Slow down.. you are now on lsland time
There is lots to see in Ganges and on the Island, a slow approach to exploring all the unique spots and locally made goods is the best way to feel the island life. I love to stop at every farm stand, eat what is fresh and made on the island. Let your fresh finds inspire a meal and creat a special moment.
This photo was from a lovely weekend welcoming friends, brunch was made with everything we foraged the day before, farm eggs, fresh greens and vegetables from the market, hot sauce made locally, coffee roasted locally and dahlias from a farm stand, even the table mats are from the lovely French studio.
We will start our tour of Ganges at the centrally located Chamber of Commerce Tourism Information building, is a great source for detailed business listings, accommodation guide, general questions and latest updates. This is also the location of the main bus stop in Ganges.
Ganges Harbour, from which the town of Ganges takes its name, was originally called Admiralty Bay but was renamed by Captain Richards in 1859 after HMS Ganges, and indirectly after the Ganges river in South Asia. The ship HMS Ganges was at the Pacific Station from 1857 to 1860 under the command of Captain John Fulford as flagship of Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes. Ganges was the last sailing line-of-battle ship in foreign service. - Wikipedia
There are many historical points of interest around the island, this photo shows the HMS Ganges from a display located along the boardwalk beside Centennial Park.
The local Sailing club burgee features an elephant as a connection to this history.
As you look out the harbour you will see a small Islet at the end of Grace Point, this is Grace Islet and it is an important place for the First Nations. Following the little path at the end of the Grace Point boardwalk beside the commercial government dock, is this lovely view of Grace Islet. Read Artist Jill Louise Campbell experience painting this sacred islet. Link
Releasing Grace : artist Jill Louise Campbell
This map shows the location of Ganges, and Ganges Harbour, photographed from the beautiful hand painted sign showing the island. I will share more photos of this sign later in the tour.
The Mouats building is one of the distinct heritage buildings in Ganges and a lovely land mark. Mouats is a home hardware shop and includes a small marine section, the lower level features house wears and pet supplies.
Next door to Mouats is the Harbour Building, this is the location of the Jill Louise Campbell Art Gallery.
On the front road side is Mouats Clothing and this is a favourite place to shop for women and men. Old Salty gift shop is on the other corner, the Oyster Catcher restaurant is on the waterside with a great boardwalk patio.
The boardwalk runs behind Mouats from the Marine park to the red and white Coast Guard building with the view of Seahorse the tugboat and the harbour beyond.
The marine park and harbour is watched over by a lovely gold mermaid.
The Marine park is thanks to the Rotary who have also provided a small dinghy dock for boaters to access the town.
The boardwalk is a fun place to hangout with an oat milk ice cream and watch the boats and float planes landing. The bright red Government Dock is a hive of activity and great view of the cool looking Coast Guard ship.
From this point along the boardwalk look back towards the marina, this is the scene of the painting Fish Market.
There harbour attracts all kind of interesting boats, commercial and pleasure. Traditionally the work boat group gathers for a rendezvous in Ganges harbour late summer.
Along this boardwalk is the Oyster Catcher restaurant and it has one of the best patios on the harbour, complete with fire pits and patio lights. It is the perfect place for oysters and champagne while the sun sets.
The red Government Dock is always a hive of activity with visiting boats. It operates on a first come basis and rafting should be welcomed and expected. Check with the Ganges Harbour Authority website to check on the latest Coved restrictions.
Across from the Government Dock is the gallery showing the colourful artwork of Jill Louise Campbell.
The gallery in Ganges on the boardwalk has been selling Jills art for 25 years. Many of her paintings depict Island scenes and we have included a few in this tour.
Here are a few paintings in the gallery, depicting Salt Spring and the harbour.
Here is artist Jill on the boardwalk outside her gallery, showing off one of her Story Shawl designs that features a painting of Ganges.
Across the courtyard from the gallery is the funky little Treehouse Cafe, it is nestled under a plum tree and has a great local menu. I particularly love the tofu scramble for breakfast and would absolutely recommend the hummus, my favourite anytime meal is the Thai peanut tofu salad. It is the perfect Salt Spring meal.
Here is a photo of my favourite tofu scramble, I like to add a side of mushrooms with it. Yum!
Evening view of the Treehouse Cafe looking towards the Government Dock. Lights twinkling and live music playing in the warm summer night air
If you like hummus, the Treehouse make a good one!
Artist Jill Louise Campbell has painted scenes of the Treehouse Cafe, here are two currently available in the gallery.
Back on the boardwalk you will see views of the float planes, Red and White Coast Guard building
Here is a lovely painting Sea Pears by Jill Louise Campbell. The view looks at the lovely old salty pear tree that hangs over and the Coast Guard building beyond.
Further along the boardwalk approaching the Red and White Coast Guard station you are along the back side of Mouats building, it has a lovely weathered seaside feel.
This side of the Mouats building has a old seaside feel with metal siding and the boardwalk. Artist Jill Louise Campbell showing her story scarf Dream Time against the weathered backdrop and lovely seaweed mural.
Look for the historic Tasaka’s rock wall underneath this part of the boardwalk, information sign is at the entrance to the building.
At the end of this section of boardwalk is the red and white Coast Guard Station, you can walk the long dock and enjoy a nice view of the harbour and the big tugboat Seahorse.
View of the Coast Guard building, float plane dock and view out of the harbour.
The Firehall is in the middle of Ganges, it has a lovely tall clock tower and flag pole. The famous Saturday market is across the street from here held in Centennial Park.
Looking to my left up the Main Street is the Salt Spring Trading Company building, the Tourism Info and bus station are just beyond.
Here is a fun painting Island Time by artist Jill Louise Campbell of the Firehall and Trading Co building.
The town of Ganges is in my opinion the perfect small town size, there are many streets and shops to explore and new things seem to unfold throughout the week leading up to the famous Saturday Market.
Here is a fun view painted by Jill looking down the hill into Ganges with the market on the right and Coast Guard dock at the end of the road. Village View
Here are some photos from the growers at our famous Saturday Market. I recommend attending the market early for a quieter time and the best selection, then go out for breakfast and then back to the market to have a good look at the fabulous artisan booths.
There are so many fabulous farmers that sell at the market. I like to buy a bit from everyone! Fresh kale, carrots and big bags of salad greens.
I love the mushrooms and sprout stand, the sprout wraps are a great market snack.
Always buy flowers when at the market.
Our favourite treats are from Brigid and her amazing French patisserie. The Canale are not to be missed, chocolate torte and well, everything is amazing
Other favourite things not to be missed at the market include:
- Salt Spring Chilli Oil
- Salt Spring Cheese from David Woods, he also has a cute farm location but you might as well stick up at the market as well.
- Salt Spring Kitchen Company Jam
- Salt Spring Shine, Gin and Vodka
- French Country fabric is the loveliest sand that sells table mats and fabric goods. Darlene is a family friend and her studio is definitely worth a visit.
- Dream Cream is a fabulous cream made on the island.
- Locally made Beeswax wraps are some of the best quality I have found.
There are so many fabulous vendors of all kinds, it is worth spending a few hours looking at everything! The market is the place to meet the maker and purchase directly from them.
The building beside the market is called Ganges Alley and it is full of really fun tiny shops both food and gifts. You can find sushi, Italian pasta, natural clothing. The famous Salt Spring Soapworks is also here and it is a great place to purchase something for yourself and gifts to take home.
Across the main street is a line of shops that include my favourite place to shop for contemporary natural fibre clothing, POD.
On the water side is the sight of Jill’s first gallery, the little cottage is now behind a fence and hard to see. Here is her painting Gallery By The Sea
At the end of this line of shops at the edge of town is the best Canadian made with butter bakery ever, Embe. This place has not changed a bit since we moved to the island in 1990. Embe has a great selection, in my opinion the best bakery items are the Copenhagen, sausage roll, cream filled blueberry turnover (this must be ordered ahead and you can only eat it after hiking Mt Erskine). And for the sailors reading this, the Eccles cakes are the perfect treat to enjoy on the water.
Embe Bakery may make the best sausage rolls and they will serve them warm.
The cupcakes are simple and moist, often decorated in a seasonal style. Embe also makes great carrot cakes and other cakes perfect for birthdays.
The Eccles cakes from Embe Bakery are the best I have ever had and the perfect treat to take when you are heading out to sea.
Eccles cakes are always aboard when we race the Round Salt Spring Island race, this race is attended by over 100 boats every spring. Here is a great painting by Jill that captures the boats with spinnakers up, racing out the harbour.
Another favourite place to provision is Barbs Bakery and Bistro, It is only open mid week and not too late, they recently made some changes adding a self serve cooler and freezer stocked with fresh greens, house made soups, sauces, local salmon and frozen savoury pies.
The frozen chowder soup and savoury pies are a favourite provision to take boating or serve an easy supper.
We absolutely love the vegetarian quiche, the chicken pot pie and tourtiere are some of the best. These are all available at the counter cooler.
Barbs also serves breakfast buns and like everything else they make, these are very good.
General local and organic groceries, special natural foods and unique Salt Spring shopping is at Natureworks. They are along the main road in the middle of Ganges.
There are many fun shops in Ganges for home and gifts, here are a few of my favourite places to shop.
Cedar Mountain, Twang and Pearl, Old Salty and West of the Moon kids shop, these shops have a good eye for lovely special imported items.
West of the Moon kids shop has a good eye for quality kids toys.
Waterfront Gallery and Art Craft at Mahon Hall focus on carrying local artisans and the selection is fantastic.
Art Craft is located at Mahon Hall a lovely old building across from Ganges marina on the edge of town. They feature local artisans of all kinds, as does the Waterfront Gallery.
Here is a photo of Mahon Hall located on the NE edge of town across from SALT.
My favourite shop on the island that perfectly embraces the west coast vibe is SALT, they design casual coastal clothing and stock home and gift as well. If your a boater pick up a cool salt pennant for your boat.
Flying the SALT pennant aboard our boat while sailing out the harbour.
Next door to SALT is my favourite Sumer treat and I see the little silver trailer is back this summer! Oat milk ice cream sundae. I also love the stylized code flag bunting.
The Harbour of Ganges is dotted with small island and lead to a lovely white shell beach called Chocolate Beach. It is a really fun activity to rent a kayak at explore the harbour.
Here is a painting by Jill showing these lovely Islands. Madrona to Ganges.
Ganges Marina is located closest to Ganges they have lots of space for visiting boats, both Ganges and Salt Spring Marina next door monitor 66A on the VHF. Here is a view of this side of the harbour showing Salt Spring Marina and Ganges to the right.
Just after Ganges marina along the main road is my very favourite historical display. This is a beautiful hand painted map of the Island by Temmel, there is so much detail and design it is a lovely place to see the layout of the island.
Further along the main road and onto Upper Ganges Road there is a nice beach access point a the head of the harbour, the beach is shale. There are lovely artistic information boards placed at the top of the beach access, well worth a stop to look at.
A bit further along is a favourite local pub Moby’s, they are just outside of town at the very head of the harbour where Salt Spring Marina is located. This is a great place for a beer and duck wings with a view of the harbour.
Salt Spring Marina was recently re built the docks and looks great, they have lots of slips for visiting boats.
Harbours End Marine is located here as well.
Across the street on the inland side is the stylish Harbours End Hotel and on the harbour side is the most beautiful accommodation on Salt Spring Island the Hastings House Country Inn. Photo of Harbour House.
In the field of Hastings House stands this fabulous large sculpture made of large logs in a circular position.
Artist Jill Louise Campbell has painted Hastings House many times and her Art hangs in some of the rooms.
Hastings Manor House & Hastings Weekend
The sweet little post cottage on the Hasting House property inspired this popular painting Embracing Joy. The Limited Edition is now sold out but the small Art print is available and a lovely Story Shawl was designed with the painting.
And this ends out tour slightly outside of Ganges, in the next tour we will continue North past a great bread place tucked in the woods, farm stands and points of interest that make the North End and Central part of the island fun to explore.
I hope you enjoyed this tour of Ganges, leave a comment with your favourite spot.