Fall Foliage on Salt Spring Island

Reflections of autumn foliage and Mount Maxwell on a rainy day along the shore of Blackburn Lake on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

reflections on blackburn lake on salt spring island in the fall

Mount Maxwell reflected in Blackburn Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

I recently made a return trip to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia to visit friends and photograph some fall foliage on the island. I’d not been to Salt Spring in the fall before, and I was hopeful about the fall leaves I might find there. The leaf colour in the Fraser Valley had been decent this year, and I’d found previously that even when it was quite bad here, it was very nice on Vancouver Island. I was hoping for the same on Salt Spring and it turned out it was very nice there as well, but it did come with a healthy dose of rain.

Like many rainy days here though, I was able to find gaps in the showers and photograph scenes like the reflection on Blackburn Lake above. The main fall foliage around the lake was the one pictured Black Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) tree that provided a nice yellow/orange color along the shoreline. The clouds often hid Mount Maxwell in the background but alternated often enough I could make this photograph while it was mostly visible. The dock I was photographing from is often a “clothing optional” area but there was nobody there this time as it was about +5°C!

sunlight on fall foliage at st mary lake salt spring island

The sun emerges at Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

During my second day on Salt Spring Island I went for a 6km hike to a small lake in Ruckle Provincial Park. I mostly wanted to scout the lake and this route also provided more shelter during a hike in the rain than the ocean side trails. This turned out to be a long trudge to a lake surrounded by dead trees and zero inspirational scenery at the time. It was also a chance to give a failing grade to my new rain jacket which didn’t measure up to the task. After lunch, however, the weather started clearing and I spotted the above scene at Saint Mary Lake. The sun only found its way through the clouds for a few minutes but while it did – this stand of Black Cottonwood (P. balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) trees lit up rather nicely. There are some subject I tend to prefer to photograph in the shade (waterfalls/streams creeks), others in direct sun, but for fall foliage it really depends on the scene. Some fall subjects like these trees look great lit by direct sunlight, while others can look a bit washed out in full sun.

Driving further south from St. Mary Lake I visited Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park. Burgoyne Bay lies just south of Mount Maxwell and often has good views of the mountain. When I arrived, however, there were still a lot of clouds, spotty showers, and I couldn’t see the mountain. As I was interested in checking out a few subjects that did not require a friendly sky, I hiked out into the retired farm fields anyway. There are a lot of old rows of trees and shrubs on the edge of the trails I wanted to potentially photograph. It wasn’t 10 minutes after I left the car that the majority of the cloud had disappeared, and there were again great views of Mount Maxwell from the park trails. It is rare I see conditions change on me so quickly but I welcomed it this time! The photograph below is from one of the Burgoyne Bay trails looking towards Mount Maxwell (complete with a dog walker further down the path). Most of the fall foliage color in this photograph comes from the numerous Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) trees in the area.

fall foliage and mount maxwell from burgoyne bay provincial park

Mount Maxwell from Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)

From Burgoyne Bay I headed further down the road to the Fulford Harbour area and the Saint Paul’s Catholic Church. In a previous post I’ve written a bit about the history of St. Paul’s Catholic Church (1885) so I won’t get into that again here. The blue sky and the fall leaves (mostly Bigleaf Maples again) combine in the photograph below to make my favourite shot so far of this particular spot.

st pauls church and cemetery at fulford harbour on salt spring island

St. Paul’s Church and Cemetery at Fulford Harbour (Purchase)

Duck Creek Park is a small park in the northern part of Salt Spring where many people seem to enjoy walking their dogs. There is a small stream, Duck Creek, which winds through one end of the park which has yielded a few photographs for me in the past. In the area of the park with open fields, I concentrated on one large Bigleaf Maple tree with my longer telephoto zoom lens. The idea here was to show what these trees generally offer in the fall – yellow foliage colour with their characteristic mossy trunks. Fall leaves on the Bigleaf Maples can be tricky – some years they go mostly brown and others they can be spectacular. This particular tree showed a lot of variation – in this photo you can still see some green on some leaves and orange, yellow, and brown colours on others.

fall foliage of bigleaf maple on salt spring island

Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) in Duck Creek Park (Purchase)

For more of my photographs of this trip to the island visit my Salt Spring Island Gallery.

Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park Farm Buildings

The fieldstone Root Cellar (built in 1901) – one of the historic farm buildings in Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

root cellar built by richard maxwell at burgoyne bay provincial park on salt spring island

Richard Maxwell’s Root Cellar at Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   Two weeks ago I arrived on British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island to visit friends and do a bit of photography. I had a few hours to spare before meeting anyone so I headed from Ganges towards Fulford Harbour with no specific destination in mind. I saw the sign for Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park and drove in to see what I would find. I had only done a small amount of research as to what I’d find on Salt Spring so this was really a random exploration kind of trip. Just as with Ruckle Provincial Park that I would explore the following day, much of Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park was used for farming before being turned into park land.

   Burgoyne Bay was named by a British Royal Navy surveyor after Commander Hugh Talbot Burgoyne who was an officer on the HMS Ganges, another name familiar to those who know Salt Spring Island. Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park is adjacent to Mount Maxwell Provincial Park, which was named after John Maxwell. Maxwell registered a claim in 1861 to a parcel of land near Burgoyne Bay and together with partner James Lunney established a cattle ranch in the area. The first photograph here shows a root cellar build by John Maxwell’s son, Richard, in 1901.

barrel-roof storage shed built by richard maxwell at burgoyne bay provincial park on salt spring island

Richard Maxwell’s Barrel-Roof Shed at Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   Just down Burgoyne Bay Road (photo of both buildings) from the “Richard Maxwell Root Cellar” is the Barrel-Roof Shed which was also built by Richard Maxwell (between 1900 and 1910). A fieldstone and wood structure, this shed was used for storing larger farm equipment which explain the two large access doors at the front. This building and the root cellar are two of the only remaining buildings from the Maxwell era, the other buildings were built by subsequent owners of the farm area, most notably the Larsons who purchased it in the 1940’s. Much of the history of the park and Burgoyne area are outlined on the park page on the BC Parks website – click on the Burgoyne Bay Park Management Plan pdf link for that information.

sailboat in burgoyne bay at burgoyne bay provincial park on salt spring island

Sailboat at Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   With a name like Burgoyne Bay the photo above shows a bit more of what I was expecting when heading into the park. There were a number of boats moored at the dock at the end of the bay, with this sailboat being the only one in use at the time. The “Makai” sailed into the bay and I made this photograph as it left. The cliffs and forest you see in the background are on Vancouver Island near Duncan, BC.

fallen garry oak tree at burgoyne bay provincial park on salt spring island

Fallen Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) at Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   There are a number of trails that head through the farm fields and up Mount Maxwell that I plan to explore in the future. I am sure there are a number of features of the park that will be great photo subjects on a subsequent visit. One landmark of note that I did visit was the spot where two Garry Oaks (Quercus garryana) had previously grown together in a field next to Burgoyne Bay Road. In early 2016 these two trees fell over in opposite directions – and the trunks and branches have been left. As Salt Spring is not a particularly large island I figured these trees falling might be noteworthy enough to have made the local paper. Sure enough there was a mention of the demise of these trees in the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper.

For more photographs of the trees and farm buildings in the Burgoyne Valley visit my Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park Gallery.