Information for Visitors to Thetis Island, BC, Canada
- Where in the world is Thetis Island?
- Where in the southern Gulf Islands?
- Visitors' Guide to Thetis Island (download an email version pdf - 660kb)
- Some Historical Background
- Climate
- Population
- Cycling on Thetis Island
- Services


Some Historical Background:

The First Nations people have lived on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands for centuries. The area’s oldest known archaeological site, in Port Hardy, dates back more than 8000 years. Place names show a diversity of origins, including various languages of the First Nations people and of European explorers, traders and settlers. Thetis Island got its name from H.M.S. Thetis (in turn named after Thetis the Neriad, a sea nymph daughter of Zeus), a British 36 gun frigate that was on the Pacific station from 1851 to 1853 and surveyed the area.

Non-native pioneers first moved onto Thetis in 1873. In 1896 Lawrence Trail was built through the center of the Island to provide access from Preedy Harbour to the Lawrence homestead on Pilkey Point. Thetis Island and Penelakut Island (to the south, home of the Penelakut First Nation) were originally separated by mud flats at low tide. In 1905 a "cut" was dredged for the first time to allow boat traffic through. This cut now provides a second, tidal access to Telegraph Harbour at the south end of the island.



A Mediterranean combination of mild winters and warm, dry summers supports the unique ecosystem of the Island, and provides an ideal environment for outdoor recreation. Thetis is in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island, having an annual rainfall of about 850 mm. The visitor will discover delightful rural scenes, beautiful shoreline, crystal clear waters, and wonderful views. It is especially popular in the summer, where visitors enjoy diverse recreational opportunities, including scuba diving, fishing, swimming, sailing, cruising and kayaking, bird watching, and hiking.



A permanent population of about 350 maintains various Community Services on Thetis Island, including a community hall with library and tennis court, church, elementary (K-6) school, fire and emergency response (911) service.


Cycling on Thetis Island:

The horseshoe-shape geography of Thetis Island lends itself to relatively short out-and-back cycling trips on quiet, paved roads. The two most popular, after turning left from the ferry dock, are North Cove Road (5 km in one direction) and Pilkey Point Road (8 km). Both are inland, with Pilkey Point Road offering some ocean views, especially from atop Moore Hill and at Pilkey Point itself. The short, 300-foot climb up Moore Hill may challenge some casual cyclists. Thetis has no bike shops or off-road biking opportunities on public land. Ocean access is on public road allowances. Because there are no commercial facilities beyond the island's two marinas, cyclists should carry their own food, drinks, spare tubes and tools. For more, call Dave Steen 250-246-3530



Fire Department and First Responders - We have a dedicated, well-trained Volunteer Fire Department that responds to all emergency situations on Thetis, including medical emergencies. We operate 2 fire engines, a water tanker, and a well-equipped Fire Department ambulance-type vehicle. Telephone 911 and state the nature of your emergency to the operator and give the lot number.

Chemainus Health Care Centre operates an Emergency Room with restricted hours, and the C.V. Regional Hospital is in Duncan, a 20 minute vehicle ride from Chemainus.

Burning permits are required for all outdoor fires from April 1st to October 31st and are issued by the Fire Department. Thetis is a particularly dry island, with few water reserves, and most homes are built in the forest. This makes us very vulnerable to wild fire. Often, our island is in the "high to extreme" range for fire danger very early in the season. There is a forest fire danger rating sign at the ferry dock area and is updated regularly. This sign supercedes all burning permits, and notifies residents and visitors of campfire, burn pile, and complete forest closures. Please consult the sign before lighting a fire. Careless cigarette, barbecue briquette, or campfire disposal will put the entire island in danger of wildfire. Make your actions safe actions and protect our island.

If you require assistance for a medical or fire emergency, please do not hesitate to call 911. We will respond, and the sooner we know about your problem, the sooner we can arrive to help.

Garbage - Thetis is a very small island with very few "municipal services", which means we have to deal with our garbage ourselves - taxes don’t contribute to it. It is very expenssive to have the dumpster bins emptied, so Thetis residents (who have to pay for it) try to minimize their use. We would really appreciate it if visitors would TAKE YOUR GARBAGE WITH YOU when you leave the island.

If you are here for too long to make that practical, please minimize the impact by doing the following:
- Separate the recycleables. Recycleables have been banned from the garbage dumps, and if any are found in our bins, we are subject to heavy fines. These items include paper, glass, tin, aluminum, plastic bags, plastic containers, and compostables (food or garden trimmings).
- Take the recycleables to the Chemainus depot or check the CVRD website for other recycling sites.
- Limit garbage in the dumpster bins to small amounts of ordinary household garbage only.
- If you are a long-term visitor or a part-time resident, please contribute to the cost of garbage collection.
For information, call 246-9753.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact