Sidney Spit National Park Reserve
Sidney Island is part of the Parks Canada Gulf islands National Park Reserve. Sidney Spit’s sand beaches are the legacy of long-vanished glaciers. Protected by the hook spit, the 31 hectares of eelgrass in the lagoon are critical habitat for fish, invertebrates and seabirds. In summer, you’ll be greeted at the dock by the exuberant acrobatics of Purple martins - birds that almost disappeared from our region as its habitat was lost. Although the island is cloaked predominantly in Douglas-fir forest, some pockets of rare and endangered Gary oak ecosystem survive.
Birds of a Feather Zodiac can arrange a private (only your party) custom outing to Sidney Spit either for the afternoon, or as one of many stops throughout the Gulf Islands including totally deserted islands and/or populated islands.
Place yourself in the landscape as it was and still is known by the Coast Salish people. The forests, seas and spiritual places of the Gulf Islands nourish their culture today as they have for millennia. On Sidney Island, they hunted deer and ducks, harvested shellfish, gathered berries and medicines, dug camas bulbs and picked seaweed. Here too, tribes met and mingled, and potlatches were sometimes held.
More recently, entrepreneurs have left their footprints on the island. Track down the clues that reveal the island’s past history as a farm, brick factory and hunting preserve. Fallow deer were first introduced to the island as a game animal in the early 1900’s. A non-native species, they have overtaken the native blacktail deer population and have significantly altered the island’s ecosystems in the last century since. Parks Canada is working on restoration of the ecosystem.
Coast Salish First Nations have strong connections to Sidney Island and to the Gulf Islands as a whole. Please respect this heritage: It is illegal to collect or damage cultural artifacts or to disturb cultural sites. Coast Salish people continue to pursue traditional activities within the park, including harvesting of plants and animals. The majority of Sidney Spit is closed to visitors from mid-November until the end of February each year so that they may safely hunt deer.