Captain George Vancouver
Names Gambier Island
The First European to enter the waters of Howe Sound was Captain George Vancouver in June 1792.Captain Vancouver was in Command of the HMS Discovery and HMS Catham. At this time he named the sound after Admiral Howe.
In 1889, the HMS Plumper, under the command of Captain George Richards, undertook the first hydro-graphic survey of the Sound and also named additional features including Gambier Island after a British Admiral of the fleet, Lord James Gambier.
The three prominent bays on the south side of Gambier West, Centre and Long Bays were named by early settlers to the sound.
The first industry took place in 1865 when Hastings Sawmill leased hundreds of hectares for lumber.
In 1875, A.C. Fraser applied for the first homestead.
By 1890 a shingle mill was established on the island.
Forest activities dominated the early development of Gambier.
By the late 1920’s, West Bay, Centre Bay and Long Bay became the site of large log booming operations. The cement pillars dotting the shores of Gambier and indeed the BC coast, at least as far as Desolation Sound, were constructed to keep the booms from going aground on falling tides. Boom chains cemented into crevices, ring bolt eyes drilled and cemented into rock and of course a handy big tree were the most common method of actually securing the booms to the shore. A lot of these tie up spots were ,and in some cases still are, maintained by the Towboat Owners Association.
As actual logging activities decreased in the 30’s, more settlers set up year-round and summer residences
An attempt by Gambier Island Copper to creat a mine in the early 70’s rallied the residents and the end result was the creation of the 1974 Islands Trust Act and the 1979 Gambier Island Zoning By-law, which now limits development on Gambier to recreational, residential or forestry.
The Gambier Island community consists of approximately 320 permanent residences.