Salt Spring Island artwork

Ahead of the Canada Day long weekend, I was invited to Salt Spring Island to cover the Third Annual Fine Art Signature Showcase, a group exhibition featuring 40 of Salt Spring’s numerous artists.

Salt Spring Island June 2012

The trip started with a morning float plane flight on Salt Spring Air, in a six-seat de Havilland Beaver.

De Havilland Beaver's throttle panel

For history buffs, this Canadian aircraft company was founded in 1928 by British de Havilland Aircraft Company for Canadian training purposes.

The Beaver's interior (six seat float plane)

Additional Beavers were produced following World War II; Salt Spring Air has several in their fleet. After a safety briefing, we taxied along the Coal Harbour waterfront, soon airborne into what would become a 35 minute flight to the Gulf Islands.

Salt Spring Island June 2012-2

I was able to sit up front alongside pilot Rob, with my Nikon firmly planted on my lap (due to space limitations, all luggage gets stowed inside the plane).

We flew below the patchy clouds, over Lions Gate Bridge, soon spotting tiny islands before flying right over Salt Spring and landing shortly thereafter in Ganges Harbour.

High above Salt Spring Island on the De Havilland Beaver

I met with Deirdre Rowland, a local PR woman who’s lived on the island for nearly nine years. We’d befriended one another at last year’s TBEX travel bloggers conference in Vancouver and share a common love of nature, the arts and a good glass of wine.

A visitor awaits crumbs at the Treehouse Café
[A visitor awaits crumbs at the Treehouse Café]

A quick coffee stop at a favourite haunt, Tree House Café, and we were off to the Suite on Park Drive, where I spent the night in a one-bedroom loft suite within walking distance of the harbour.

Auntie Pesto's Café

Back in town, we were treated to lunch at Auntie Pesto’s Café at Grace Point Square close to the harbour. My Roma pasta was a delicious blend of pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, roasted garlic and olive oil, tossed into curly rice pasta.

Roma pasta with pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sun dried tomatoes, herbs and roasted garlic
[Roma pasta with pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sun dried tomatoes, herbs and roasted garlic]

Chef/Owner Shawn Walton is about to set off for London to help cook for the 2012 Olympic Canadian Sailing Team, along with a few other Canadian chefs. He’s excited to be cooking healthy food for a team that’s expected to win a lot of gold!

Chef/Owner Shawn Walton, Auntie Pesto's Café
[Chef/Owner Shawn Walton of Auntie Pesto’s Café]

A side salad was served, making this warm meal a great start to our afternoon. The café also has outdoor seating with harbour views.

The Seahorse tugboat in Ganges Harbour

In preparation for the Salt Spring Fine Art Showcase, I was given a private tour of several local galleries by art curator Anthony Matthews. He’s currently at Pegasus Gallery, where a Group of Seven exhibition is currently in place.

"Day Dreaming" by Tom Thomson at Pegasus Gallery

I was shown a curious 1915 Tom Thomson oil painting (Day Dreaming). The back of the painting has a sketch of the subject (artist Thoreau Macdonald) along with notes scribbled by Thomson.

Intriguing back of Tom Thomson's "Day Dreaming" at Pegasus Gallery

Pegasus contains a large collection of Canadian Art, as does the other galleries we visited: Steffich Fine Art, Gallery 8 and historic Mahon Hall, a restored 1904 home that serves as an artists collective with an shared exhibition space on stage that rotates every few weeks.

"Untitled" by Janis Woode
[Untitled by Janis Woode]

"Nexus" by Carl Sean McMahon
[Nexus by Carl Sean McMahon]

We wound up at ArtSpring, site of the evening’s Signature Showcase opening.

Salt Spring Island June 2012-47
[Liz. My Pet Glockenspiel by Jerry Ringrose]

After a short relaxation break at the B&B, Deirdre and I dined at local favourite Salt Spring Inn, with its adjacent inn containing seven guest rooms.

Salt Spring Inn lobby
[Salt Spring Inn lobby]

View my coverage of the Fine Art Signature Showcase here.

The next morning, I had breakfast in my suite’s living room. Nirmal had arranged a spread of Salt Spring Island cheese, English muffins, Salt Spring Coffee, organic granola, yogurt and fresh fruit in the kitchen to start the day at my own pace.

Salt Spring Island Market-2

The rest of my Saturday was spent at the large and well-visited Saturday Market. This is one of the largest farmer’s markets that I’ve been to in BC so far, and the eclectic crowd, music, and local offerings are both varied and numerous.

If you’re ever out on Salt Spring, I highly recommend being there on a Saturday to experience this!

Salt Spring Island Market-5 Salt Spring Island Market-7 Salt Spring Island Market-9 Salt Spring Island Market-1

Given a couple of days, it’s easy to enjoy a Gulf Island experience while having enough time to relax on the Islander’s pace.

My lunch was provided by Auntie Pesto’s Café, dinner by Salt Spring Inn. My flight was arranged and paid for by Salt Spring Air. My stay at Suite on Park Drive was compliments of Nirmal Dryden. Opinions, as always, are my own. All photos © 2012 Ariane Colenbrander.

Big thank you’s to Anthony Matthews, Deirdre Rowland, Nirmal Dryden, Auntie Pesto’s Café, Salt Spring Inn, and Salt Spring Air for arranging and hosting me on this two-day jaunt.

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