European culture

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

Taylor Point
Remnants of farm house at Taylor Point on Saturna Island.

Exploration by European peoples began with the charting of the Gulf Islands by the Spanish in the 1700s. The first major settlement of the islands did not begin, however, until the 1870s. By the end of the 19th century, most arable land in the islands had been cleared and settled, and fishing, farming and logging were the mainstays of the economy.

The Mediterranean climate and scenic beauty of the islands soon began to attract vacationers, and resorts and marinas sprang up to serve the demand. The islands have also become popular as a retirement destination, and have come under pressure for residential and resort developments. Development on the islands, however, is controlled through the innovative Islands Trust. Created through protective legislation, the Trust's objective is to preserve and protect the Trust Area and its unique amenities and environment. In 1990, its role was enhanced and the Trust became the local government with land use and regulatory authority.

The national park reserve had its origins in the Pacific Marine Heritage Legacy—a federal-provincial agreement initiated in 1995 with the objective of enhancing the system of protected areas on the British Columbia coast. Under the auspices of this agreement, Canada's 40th national park was created on May 9, 2003.

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