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.

Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island

The Skeena Queen docked at the BC Ferry terminal at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

fulford harbour salt spring island bc ferry skeena queen

Fulford Harbour – Skeena Queen at BC Ferries Terminal (Purchase)

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   Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island is one of the 3 areas on the island with a BC Ferries terminal (in addition to Vesuvius and Long Harbour). I photographed the Skeena Queen dropping off passengers at Fulford Harbour during my last trip there in early June. This BC Ferries route goes between Fulford Harbour and Swartz Bay (near Victoria) on Vancouver Island. I like the Fulford Harbour area – it isn’t as busy as Ganges and offers some nice views of the water from the village itself as well as from Drummond Park. Fulford also offers a cafe and bakery, a restaurant, various artist studios, and a country store. During a previous trip I photographed the historic St. Paul’s Catholic Church (1885) which is near the village.

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Mute swan (Cygnus olor) at Fulford Harbour (Purchase)

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   This Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) immediately swam over when it saw me standing near the shoreline. I presume people feed the small population of the non-native Swans here and this one was heading over for a free snack. It wasn’t going to get anything from me, but I did take the opportunity to make a photograph. This was right near the outflow of Fulford Creek into Fulford Harbour which is probably a good place to forage for tasty morsels in a more natural way.

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Fulford Creek Estuary (Purchase)

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   I made this photograph of Fulford Creek near the old site of the Fulford Inn. Fulford Creek is home to one of the the largest salmon runs in the Southern Gulf Islands. Home to Coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Chum (O. keta) Salmon as well as Cutthroat Trout (O. clarkii) the creek fish populations are threatened mostly due to low water flows in the summer. I had just photographed the ferry above and failed to judge when the disembarking traffic was going to be going by, so I was stuck on the wrong side of the road for a while before I could get back to my car!

More photographs from my trips to Salt Spring can be found in my Salt Spring Island Gallery.

Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island

Boats in Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

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Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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   Earlier this year I made my second trip to Salt Spring Island – one of British Columbia’s Southern Gulf Islands. During my last trip I also had limited time, so I was able to check out some new areas this time around and more thoroughly explore some others. One area I spent more time in on this trip was Ganges. Ganges is an unincorporated town on Salt Spring Island and has most of the shopping and small businesses on the island. Ganges is also known for the Salt Spring Island Market in the summer. Ganges Harbour has a lot of marinas, boardwalks, and small shops along it’s waterfront. I spent a few hours there making photographs the morning of the second day on this trip. The first photograph here shows some of the small yachts and boats in one marina, with Moby’s Pub and a few waterfront homes in the background.

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Boarding a Seaplane at Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

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   In addition to boats and marinas Ganges Harbour has a small Seaplane Aerodrome used by Harbour Air and Seair Seaplanes. I don’t know where this Harbour Air Single Otter flight was departing to, but it likely was heading to Vancouver or YVR (the Vancouver area’s main airport).

purple sea star Pisaster ochraceus in ganges harbour

Purple Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus) in Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

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   This Purple Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus) and the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) were both in the intertidal zone below the boardwalk. I do enjoy photographing Herons as they tend to move slowly when hunting and make goods subjects. I didn’t have to worry about the Sea Star moving around either! I watched the heron for about 20 minutes, and recorded some video of it hunting as well. Apparently if being filmed, Herons know to grab their snack and immediately run out of the frame to eat it. I saw this Heron catch a number of small fish, but it always walked out of the frame before swallowing them, unfortunately. While photographing the Heron I was switching to different subjects such as various boats and the Sea Plane taxiing for takeoff before switching back to the Heron.

great blue heron hunting at ganges harbour

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Hunting at Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

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Stay tuned for a number of other blog posts with photographs from Salt Spring but if you can’t wait – you can see all my photographs from the island in my Salt Spring Island Gallery.

Spring Views at Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island

Rowboat on the shore of Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

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Rowboat at St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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   Last week I headed back to Salt Spring Island here in British Columbia for a 3 day trip to photograph and visit friends. Last time I was on Salt Spring was in March of last year, and it was nice seeing the views with green grass and the leaves on the trees! I also had better weather overall this time around, with only some rain on my main photography day. As with any weather situation there is always something to photograph, so while I didn’t get as many of the wide, sweeping, ocean shoreline views as I’d wanted, the thin overcast cloud did work for many other situations.

saint mary lake on salt spring island

St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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   One of many locations I visited for photography was Saint Mary Lake. St. Mary Lake is between Ganges and Vesuvius, and serves as both a recreation area (fishing, swimming, boating) and drinking water supply. I was not able to find all that many publicly accessible spots around the lake to photograph, but this one along North End Road gave me these views of the docks, swimming platforms and general scenery at the lake.

st mary lake on salt spring island

Private Dock at St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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   Most of the boats I came across at various locations on Salt Spring Island were not secured – usually just pulled up on shore. This kind of honour system would not likely work well in Vancouver! This boat in the first photograph was not tied up either. I’m sure the majority of the time this works out well for the boat owners on the island, but there was a sign next to this one asking for a boat to be returned that, evidently, had been liberated from it’s unsecured location.

swimming platform st mary lake on salt spring island

Swimming Platform at St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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More photographs of this island can be found in my Salt Spring Island Gallery.

St. Paul’s Church and Cemetery at Fulford Harbour

   The historic St. Paul’s Church at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

st pauls church and cemetery at fulford harbour salt spring island

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

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   The historic St. Paul’s Church at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island is a building I’d seen photographs of even before visiting Salt Spring Island. I do a fair amount of research online before I visit a location so I have a good idea of some specific places to visit while exploring in between. The trouble with this particular building is I wasn’t able to find out where it was, only that it was near Fulford Harbour which is a bit vague. Thankfully St. Paul’s Church is right next to the main road out of Fulford Harbour heading towards Ganges, and it was pretty easy to spot once I got close.

   Saint Paul’s Church is Salt Spring Island’s oldest church and was built between 1880 and 1885. Founded in 1878 by Father Doncklele who was the first Roman Catholic missionary on the Gulf Islands. The windows, front door, and bell were acquired from the “Butter Church” in Cowichan Bay and brought by canoe to Burgoyne Bay. The colored stonework on St. Paul’s Church was added in 1973. To an outsider like me this stonework feels appropriate for Salt Spring but I can also see the point many make that this kind of expression is not appropriate for historic buildings such as this one.

   The cross in the foreground is part of the church cemetery and marks the resting place of Alan Blackburn (1865-1925). There is not a lot of information about Blackburn online but Blackburn Lake is named for him in the area he purchased his farm.

For more photographs of the Fulford Harbour area 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.

Ruckle Farm Buildings at Ruckle Provincial Park

Panorama of Ruckle Farm and the Daniel Henry Ruckle house in Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

panorama of the ruckle active farm and buildings in ruckle provincial park on salt spring island

Ruckle Farmland and Daniel Henry Ruckle House in Ruckle Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   Last weekend I made my first photography trip to British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island. Salt Spring is the most populated of the Gulf Islands, and I’ll have the chance to explore it more often as some of my friends have moved there. Despite some rain I managed to get enough breaks in the weather to photograph these scenes at Ruckle Provincial Park. Salt Spring is new to me, and so photographing an entirely new place can be a bit more of a challenge as you don’t know where things are or what might be right around the corner (which is also a bit more exciting). I was mostly doing some exploration and scouting on this trip, but the stop at Ruckle Provincial Park was probably the highlight – and I came away with a few photographs too. The panorama above shows some of the still active farmland within the park as well as the farmhouse built by Daniel Henry Ruckle (Henry Ruckle’s son) starting in 1907. The Ruckle Farm has been in continuous use as farmland since Henry Ruckle began farming it in 1872. Ruckle Provincial Park itself was purchased from the Ruckle family in 1973 and established as a park in 1974. For a lot more information about Ruckle Park you can read the following file which I used as one of my sources for the dates and building names in this post: Ruckle Provincial Park Master Plan.

ruckle farm house daniel henry ruckle house ruckle provincial park on salt spring island

Daniel Henry Ruckle Farmhouse at Ruckle Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   Henry Ruckle first started to clear this land for farming in the early 1870’s – and much of it remains the way it was then (though a bit weathered). The first noteworthy building you pass near the entrance to the park is the Alfred Ruckle House built in 1906. Much of this part of the park is lined with no parking signs, so I stopped further down the road near the park headquarters building (a house built by William Norman Ruckle in the 1930’s) – parking by the farm stand. Walking back up the road I made these two photographs of the Alfred Ruckle house. While standing on the side of the road photographing I tried to wave down a passing minivan which had a rather flat rear tire, but he just stared at me as he went by. More about that guy later.

alfred ruckles farmhouse in Ruckle provincial park on salt spring island

Alfred Ruckle House at Ruckle Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   Alfred Ruckle house was built in the Queen Anne style which is certainly a little more stylish than the other wood frame homes (that I’ve seen so far) on Ruckle Farm. I’d like to have been closer to it for photography but it is not in the public area. The one farmhouse I did not photograph and that was the original home built by Henry Ruckle in the 1870’s which is still standing. I would have, and you can get close to it, but I simply didn’t know it was there at the time – despite being only a few hundred feet away. Next time I am on Salt Spring Island I intend to fix that oversight! The second photo of the Queen Anne house here also shows some of the split rail fencing that is common throughout the farm and on Salt Spring Island.

alfred ruckles queen ann style house farmhouse in Ruckle provincial park on salt spring island

Alfred Ruckle’s Farmhouse at Ruckle Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   This building *below) is known as “The Forge”. It is the oldest building at the Ruckle farm and was constructed in 1878. This location is only about 200 feet from Henry Ruckle’s original farmhouse, but for some reason I never looked in that direction and never saw it. While I was photographing the Forge (amidst some chickens scratching around in the grass) a man walked through on one of the trails with his dog. The dog, to it’s credit wasn’t at all excited about chickens and didn’t react much when he saw them so this wasn’t an issue. A park employee immediately came out of the nearby building and told him that he wasn’t allowed dogs in the area. I think this guy must have passed 20 signs in the park saying the same thing. I take it they have had a lot of problems with people’s dogs scaring and chasing the farm animals.

the forge the oldest farm building at ruckle provincial park farm on salt spring island

The Forge at Ruckle Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   After photographing the farm area I drove the short distance to Beaver Point and went for a short walk to a few viewpoints. Rain drove me back to my car but I noticed the minivan I mentioned earlier that had a flat. I put a note about it in a sandwich bag and walked over to the van but I heard a whirring noise as I got there. The owner was using a small pump to fill up his tire. I said he could probably get that repaired in Ganges but he said it was okay, he’d been doing this frequently since he left Quebec! I wouldn’t have the patience to pull over and pump up a tire all the way across Canada! That along with the dog thing makes me wonder about this guy’s decision making skills, if they exist at all!

For all of my photos of Ruckle Provincial Park please visit my Ruckle Provincial Park Gallery.