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Hutt Island – A Close Shave

Hutt Island, off the North West corner of Bowen Island, is a fine destination for a paddle. From Snug Cove, paddle north, with Diamond Head in view, for 5k before turning west around Finistere Island and along Bowen’s wild north coast with Gambier on your right. No one else around, an easy 5K more; and then Hutt comes into view. Uninhabited, except for some boisterous seals on its southern end, Hutt is heavily wooded but with a lovely shell beach that links it, at low tide, to tiny Flower Island. Here you can camp; maybe 2 tents and a place to stow your kayaks. Whether you stay or head back right away, the Island is worth circumnavigating. High cliffs, a broken coastline and interesting changes in the water, Hutt is both a small challenge and a peaceful experience. And some interesting history.

What I like best about this lovely bit of broken off Bowen is the fact that 40 years ago the island almost ceased to exist. Sometime in the 1960s it was bought by a consortium who, at the time, were involved in building the Roberts Bank ship terminal south of Vancouver. And they needed a cheap, local supply of fill for the causeway. So, true to the development ethics of the day, it was decided to blast Hutt into sizable chunks and barge them down to the Tswassen site. Nothing but a 6’ table of rock above the waterline would remain. All this made perfect economic sense but was, of course, fairly shaky from an environmental point of view. A start was made and pilings, which are still there, were sunk and a road was constructed to aid tree cutting. However, before too many explosions were heard, trees cut or barges set full of rock, local residents realized what was at stake and the project was soon stopped and abandoned.

Now, whereas this story is probably the correct one, there is an alternative ending which I prefer. In this one, an explosion goes wrong and a fair sized chunk of rock lands on the deck of a very expensive yacht owned by the brother of a local politician. End of project but the start of the founding a few years later of the Islands Trust whose mandate is to preserve and protect the islands of the southern Gulf of Georgia.
Hutt Island had a narrow escape from obliteration yet is now a fine symbol of care for the Planet. Worth a visit.