Gambier Island

Map  |  Hiking Trails  |  Along our Byways  |  In Gambier's Forests  |  In and Near the Sea


Gambier Island on Google Maps


Trees and Plants

Some of the most pleasant and relaxing hiking on Gambier is along our roads. Their bordering hedgerows and narrow twists suggest an earlier era. Many locals encourage native shrubs to hedge their yards, so on the roadsides you'll see Salmonberry, with its distinctive magenta blooms early in spring, and its relatives, Thimbleberry and the native Blackberries.

The most common native deciduous trees are Bigleaf Maple and Western Red Alder. Notable introduced species include Horse Chestnut and Garry Oak (a B.C. coast native, but unusual on this side of the Strait) on the road to West Bay, and Hawthorn (a bee favourite) in New Brighton.


It's hard to miss te Steller's Jay (B.C.'s provincial bird), raucous, dramatically blue, and present in many yards. However, the roadside brush, too, hosts a multitude of birds, especially from spring through fall. When the Salmon Berries are blooming, watch for Rufous Hummingbirds zooming from flower to flower.
Later, you'll occasionally see flocks of Pine Siskins, and you may see Dark-Eyed Juncos, Song Sparrows, Chickadees, and American Goldfinches.



In the quiet of Gambier's woodland, you're more likely to hear the birds than see them. Stand quietly, and try to track the sounds, and you may see them too: the Common Raven, with its variety of calls--caws, croaks and bell-like sounds; the Varied Thrush, with its clear series of single notes; and the many varieties of Woodpeckers, with their hammering and drumming. If you look upwards through the forest, particularly near the coastline, you may see a Bald Eagle or Turkey Buzzard soaring.

Mammals and Amphibians

The bigger forest animals are shy. The most commonly seen is the Black-Tailed Mule Deer, a pest in island gardens but fun to see in the bush. Local deer are easily spooked.

Not shy at all is the native Douglas squirrel is no longer common in the Lower Mainland because the introduced European Black Squirrel has taken over its habitat. Here, the native species still cheekily announces its supremacy!
In damp areas, you may see Rough-Skin Newts and Pacific Treefrogs.

Trees and Plants

Gambier's forests include most of the conifers common in the coastal rainforest. The biggest is the Douglas-fir, named after the explorer-botanist David Douglas. "Doug" firs are usually found in relatively dry areas of forest. The "undercut" tree in the woodlot and the old-growth tree on the trail to the lakes are both examples of this species.

In damper areas, you'll find Western Red Cedar (its stringy bark and foliar scales are distinctive), and Western Hemlock (watch for its drooping to leader).
Understory plants are not abundant in the deep forest, but you'll see Sword Ferns, Bracken, Oregon Grape and Salal year-round, and you may see Twinflower and Yellow Violets in spring.



Forest habitat is noticeably different near the shoreline, especially where the trees are exposed to the Gulf of Georgia's strong inflow winds. Here you may see Arbutus, a deciduous tree with distinctive gnarled branches and peeling red bark, and Western Shore Pine.


Like other west coast islands, Gambier, with its extensive coastline, provides excellent habitat for shorebirds. As well as common species like gulls and a variety of ducks, you'll see Blue Herons and Kingfishers taking advantage of docks and boats as perching spots. On rocky islets off Gambier's coast, you may see Oystercatchers.

Fish and Marine Mammals

Gambier's creeks support several fresh-water fish species, mostly salmonids. Chum Salmon and Steelhead (ocean-going Rainbow Trout) mature in the creeks, and then head off to sea. Introduced Rainbow Trout are present in some of the lakes.

The ocean, too, supports a variety of fish species. Chum are the commonest salmon species in Howe Sound. Rock Cod and other Rockfish congregate near offshore reefs. Dock fishermen may catch Shiners, Dock Perch and the occasional Dogfish.

River Otters inhabit some of our creeks, and on quiet mornings, you may see them playing on the docks.

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