Bowen Island was named after Rear Admiral James Bowen, master of the flagship, The H.M.S. Queen Charlotte.
Unlike many of the Gulf Islands, Bowen does not show evidence of permanent First Nations settlement. The first white settler arrived in 1872 with an interest in logging some of the Douglas Fir, Cedar and Hemlock found in abundance here.
Some limited farming began in areas around Lake Killarney and Trout Lake shortly thereafter, but top soil was scant and the distance from the markets made commercial agriculture difficult.
Settlement, not surprisingly, was primarily along land along or near to sheltered coves, beaches and inlets, and these areas eventually developed into small communities such as Deep Bay, Snug Cove, Miller’s Landing, and Tunstall Bay.
In addition to limited logging, fishing and hunting, a brick works started up in Deep Bay the 1900’s; the special clay found here supported an industry that produced bricks for the Vancouver market. Tunstall Bay was the home of the timber operation and for a time also manufactured explosives. The factory operated until well into World War I
When a regular steamship service was established, however, Bowen became primarily recreational, providing retreats for many Vancouverites. The recreational complex in Snug Cove undertaken by the Terminal Steamship Company in 1902, developed 485 hectares into a popular resort and playground. Their holdings included two of the island’s most accessible beaches, land around the two lakes, a farm, resort, store, pub, dance pavilion and dozens of weekend cottages. Vancouverites during this era called Bowen “The Happy Isle”.
With the arrival of the car ferries in the 1950’s, Bowen’s population of 170 doubled in the following ten years and it has been growing ever since.