Indigenous History of Bowen

Bowen Island provided food and sustenance to the Squamish Nation, but it was never used as a permanent settlement ground. The Island was mainly used as a stopping ground on long journeys up and down the coast not only for the Squamish, but for other groups as well. Bowen was full of life, from deer, to salmon, to smelts herring, thus the Island easily became a seasonal hunting ground. It was well known to the Squamish that the strong fresh water influence of the Squamish River caused most clams to lodge themselves in Tunstall Bay, that could otherwise not be found anywhere else in the Howe Sound. For this reason, many Squamish people found themselves making camp at or near Gibson’s Landing.

The Squamish people were very resourceful with what could be found and stored on the Island. Salmon for example could be stored for up to two years by drying it with hemlock or alder tree bark. Deer was regarded as a very valuable animal in their time. Since they were so abundant on Bowen, the Squamish named Bowen Xwililxhym or Qole’laqom meaning “fast drumming ground” (for the sound their hooves make when running). Not only was the deer used as a source of food and nutrition, it was also stored and used to get them through the harsh winters. It is believed that the Squamish people would venture to the Eagle Cliff area in search of mineral colours to be made into ceremonial paints.

Vancouver City Hall infromation map of the territory of the Squamish people. ca.1937

Vancouver City Hall infromation map of the territory of the Squamish people. ca.1937

Bowen Island
Museum & Archives

1014 Miller Road
P.O. Box 97
Bowen Island, BC
V0N 1G1, Canada

Fall/Winter Hours:
September - June
Open Tuesday - Friday & Sunday
12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Admission is by donation

Phone: 604-947-2655