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Located around one of the most popular swimming beaches on Bowen Island with stunning views towards the west and Gibsons, Bowen Bay’s development is fairly recent.
In 1943, 14 families decided they wanted to call Bowen Bay home. George Adams owned much of the area, 800 acres of it. He decided to split it up into 100-acre lots for sale. The group of families signed the final papers for one of these lots in November of 1943 for $3,250.00. In doing so, the Bowen Bay Association was formed. Each member was granted a share in the property. Together they established the rules and responsibilities, including the rule that all 14 properties would have waterfront. The lots were marked out and families then drew their lot out of a hat with the opportunity to exchange after. Remarkably, only one exchange occurred.
“So here we were in the midst of the wilderness, and homes to be built. Nothing new for British Columbia, but quite removed from the experience of some of us, especially those who had come from environments which had been settled for centuries.” – B. Johnston
Getting to Bowen Bay was the first new challenge for the residents. As no road existed at the time, the Tymac Launch Service was their main form of transportation from Vancouver. Mac and Dave’s Tymac served the western side of the island and multiple other islands along the Howe Sound. Regular rocky runs were made year-round on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. If the Westerly winds were blowing too strong, a detour route could take nearly four hours in the cramped boat cabin. Excepts for those with their own small motorboats, the Tymac brought all of the eating, building, and furnishing supplies for the residents.
Clearing the land to build a house required stamina. Rocks and trees had to be dodged when ploughing through the sallal. Stumps were pulled and prodded out of the ground. The Walters were the first to begin building their home. For the Lloyd’s place, the lumber had to be brought in on the Tymac. Piece by piece, it was carried up to the site.
There was no electricity. One telephone was shared by all fourteen families. It was kept in Maisie and Lillian Adam’s house over in Tunstall Bay. The two kind ladies would deliver telephone messages by walking across a 100-acre property. Water took energy to get. Young people rowed to Malkin’s Creek to collect it until Joe Inneichan made an exciting discovery of a small freshwater stream along the shoreline. Wells were then dug by this stream to collect the ground water. A payphone was later installed and electricity greeted Bowen Bay in the spring of 1956. With the beginning of the Bainbridge car ferry and the gazetting of the road around the same time, the western side of the island was no longer isolated.
As of 1996, twelve families still shared the property, one of which was an original.
Photos courtesy of the Bowen Island Museum & Archives