Lying in the Strait of Georgia’s Sabine Channel, between Lasqueti and Texada islands, Jedediah Island is an isolated marine provincial park that is only accessible by private boat. The island sits amidst a scattering of more than 30 other small islands that are strewn around the northwestern side of Lasqueti, and of all of these islands that decorate Lasqueti’s northwestern coast Jedediah is the largest, at 2.6 square kilometres. The island is also unlike any of its sister islets in its diverse ecosystems and rich history. The park sports exceptional marine and forest ecosystems, but it also contains the traces of human settlements, including those of indigenous peoples and of the later settlers who owned the island before it became a provincial park––Mary and Al Palmer.
With its dramatic rocky outcroppings and lush forests, the island’s natural beauty is exquisite. The interior of the island is made up of lush forests characteristic of coastal BC, offering an array of various species of trees including mature arbutus trees and old growth Douglas fir. Jedediah is also home, however, to the goats and sheep that are descendants of the the Palmer’s livestock. At the same time, the island houses four registered archeological sites, including an aboriginal fish weir. The aptly named Home Bay shows signs of much more recent human settlement: here, the old homestead of Mary and Al Palmer is still standing. Visitors can see the old family home, crumbling back into nature through disuse, as well as outlying sheds, a barn, and the family’s orchard.
Motivated by the twin desires of living a secluded life and preserving the island’s natural beauty, Mary and Al Palmer bought the island in 1949. Living and operating a farm there for many years, the couple had to re-think their future once they reached their seventies, when living in such isolation and continuing on with farm work became too difficult. At that point, Mary saw to it that the island’s natural environment would continue to be protected through the creation of the provincial park.
Still, the Palmers had to sell the island to move elsewhere, and the island went for $4.1 million, a hefty sum to raise. Many people and organizations contributed to the raising of the funds required to purchase the island, including groups like the Friends of Jedediah, the Marine Parks Forever Society, and the Nature Trust of British Columbia. One individual contributed greatly to this effort: the estate of the late famed mountaineer, Daniel Culver, donated $1.1 million towards the formation of the park.
Despite its isolated location, Jedediah is a popular spot for boaters and kayakers to visit, especially in the summer, and camping is allowed. Interestingly, recent DNA testing reveals that the goats and sheep on the island descend not only from the Palmers’ livestock, but that their ancestors were likely Spanish goats and sheep brought with Spanish explorers in the 1700s, adding yet another layer to the varied history of Jedediah’s wildlife and topography.