Read Island, tucked in between Quadra Island and Cortes Island is off the beaten track for boaters. The island is part of the Discovery Islands, tucked in between Vancouver Island and the Mainland.
The island was named by Daniel Pender, a captain of the Beaver Steamship in around 1864. The island was named after Captain William Viner Read, including Viner Point on the island.
Read Island was my first stop many years ago on my first trip up to Desolation Sound. You would think being between two relatively developed island that the island would be equally developed, but it’s not. I will admit the first time I was on the island I was a little perplexed on how an island between Cortes Island and Quadra Island could be totally off the grid and undeveloped in comparison.
The island has no ferry service, the only access is by private boat or a water taxi. I believe the last census had the island at approximately 80 residents. From a cruisers standpoint it’s not the typical attraction, but if you’re wanting to stretch your legs and explore a secluded island it’s a great stop.
I have heard reference to the island being part of the animal highway so to speak between Vancouver Island and the mainland, so I would urge you to exercise your animal precautions when walking on the island. I know when I was on the island there were multiple times it seemed we weren’t along, we never saw anything, just sounds from the bushes. Whether or not you think there’s wildlife around, it’s always good to practice good animal safety.
The island has a road that is accessible if you anchors in Evans Bay, which goes from the Provincial Park on the south end, going into Surge Narrows where you can find a Post Office. Right now there is no General Store on Read Island. It closed down in 2007, and after some challenges with funding it looks like a restoration project may be going ahead. I’ve never walked the entire road, I’ve walk a portion of it heading to the south end of the island.
There’s not that much information about the island. The Campbell River Museum has some great photos in their archives, sharing a glimpse into what life was like for those that lived on Read Island. I’d heard rumours that one of the trails on the island (which was flagged by a hanging sock at the time we walked it) takes you to an old site of a hotel that was once on the island that burnt down. I haven’t been able to find anything to substantiate the rumour, so I have not idea if there’s any truth to it.
I also heard years ago that Canada Post tried to redo the Read Island post office. Plans were sent to Read Island and Head Office was totally confused why their new store design wouldn’t work, …apparently Head Office forgot that the Read Island location had propane lighting etc. Not sure if there’s any truth to the story, but it’s funny none the less.
Read Island may be a remote island, but it has quite the community. You can find a Facebook page where in most years you could drop in on what seems to be an annual beach party, Read Island Beach Fest. I know Read Island isn’t an island I frequent every year when I’m up in Desolation Sound, but it’s a nice island for something different.
If you’re on Read Island, the same applies as Cortes Island, always listen to hippies, you never know what you might learn!