Episode 11: Salt Spring Island

Next up was another Gulf Island. We'd covered art on Gabriola and now we were going to cover entrepreneurialism on Salt Spring Island. Yes they have a plethora of artists as well, all the Gulf Islands do for that matter, but they also boast a number of unique businesses with grassroots on Salt Spring. We settled on two, the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company and Mistaken Identity Vineyards, but first we had to check in and for Salt Spring we chose to camp at Ruckle Provincial Park, one of my favourite campgrounds around.

Critters everywhere

Always curious

Trolling sea lions

I've camped at Ruckle a couple of times and the reason I like it so much is because of its location and the marine life. The last time I camped here I saw a pod of killer whales swim right by the front of the tent in the early morning. Ruckle is located on an old family farm and looks out over the water in a stunning fashion. It's also a 'walk-in' campground so there are no vehicles to taint nature. We arrived on our bikes, unloaded our gear into the provided wheel barrows and set up camp, right at waters edge.

Awesome sunrise

Across the waters

The bivouac

The next morning I awoke early to catch the sunrise and what a spectacle it was. Sitting on the rocky shore to wait for the new day I was joined by numerous sea lions that were out trolling. It was funny, they always approached from the right and swam to the left, must have been the current. A couple saw me and circled in for a closer look, they were spectacular. As the sun rose I meandered along the shore and spotted a family of sea otters playing in the water. I watched them for a time and was treated to a shore side excursion as they came out of the water for a little adventure. They were a curious bunch and their activities put an instant smile on my face.


Green on green

I think he nailed it

With the sun up Dominik went to work in the next bay and painted a lovely shoreline. It didn't seem to matter where we went nature offered up a beautiful composition for his brush. Then it was off to the Salt Spring Market. Located in Ganges it's quite the size and even though the weather was spotty it was very busy. We tracked down the Salt Spring Cheese booth as a teaser to our upcoming tour and at the stand I talked to Thea, the daughter of the owner, who offered me numerous tasty samples. Salt Spring Cheese is noted for its goat cheeses and did they ever pack a wallop, I had a hard time pulling myself away.

Next up was Mistaken Identity Vineyards, one of three Salt Spring wineries. We'd arranged a little visit and the manager gave us a VIP tour starting in the vineyard which had just been harvested. From there we went to the working area where we could see the love that went into each bottle, then we got down to business, wine tasting! Mistaken Identity offers a great selection of wines and after a quick lesson in 'tasting' we sampled one of each. Mistaken Identity have won numerous awards so are obviously well known for that, but another thing that sets them apart is their labeling. Labeling has become a very prominent part of the industry as wineries have put a lot of effort into 'branding' their products. Mistaken Identity brands their bottles through the artwork of two artists. Jill Louise Campbell's art represents the wines that are 100% Salt Spring, and Laura Harris represents the wines produced with grapes from the Okanagan. The labels are beautiful and the names reflect different aspects of Salt Spring life that many who live there identify with; 'Gratitude,' 'Journey,' 'Freedom,' 'Sanctuary,' 'Community,' and others. It's an interesting story that lends itself to the entrepreneurial spirit that permeates Salt Spring. With the conclusion of the wine tasting Dominik and I bought a bottle each and off we went. For our tour we'd like to thank the folks at Mistaken Identity very much for their time and professionalism. It was a real treat! Thank you!

Pros at work!

Beautiful labels

Another sip please!

Next on the list was cheese of course, we had to have some cheese to go with our newly acquired wine. We rolled into the Salt Spring Cheese Company and Dominik went through the factory with the owners son, Derrick. The 'factory' is a Salt Spring destination unto itself. Located in a beautiful country setting it promotes a very educational experience. For the causal tourist the factory is a standalone building that consists of the cheese making facility which backs onto the shop. What is interesting though is that they have constructed a boardwalk that wraps around the building so one can walk around at leisure and observe the cheese making process through large windows. Next to the windows are explanations of the part of the process one is viewing. It really is a neat excursion. Dominik cruised around inside, met the staff and witnessed first hand how things were done, then finished off in the store. For the tour we'd like to thank the folks at Salt Spring Island Cheese, cheers folks.


The shop

Thea at the market

Cutting the cheese ( I know...)

And that was it for Salt Spring. It's an amazing Island, one that we would recommend in a heartbeat. As far as Gulf Islands go I will never play favourites as I live on Gabriola. Suffice it to say they are all impressive and each has its own distinct identity, in short they're all worth a visit.

Next up we were off to see some big trees. Carmanah here we come!

Salt Spring....such a beautiful island