In 1791, First Nations people were startled by the still rare sight of a Spanish schooner exploring this most southern of the Gulf Islands. The Saturnina gave its name to this hilly island which was settled slowly, as it well removed from the traffic of Active Pass and devoid of the fertile soil found on many of the other islands.
Settlers developed orchards and raised sheep instead. Feral descendants of some of these early sheep owned by the Paynes and Mrs. Bradley-Dyne are still seen grazing on grassy outcrops, and a more motley bunch of sheep you’ve never seen! Various horn formations, colours and shapes attest to their interbreeding. Predators are rare on Saturna, thus ensuring the survival of the sheep.
The first British settler arrived in 1869 with Peter Frazier purchasing crown land for one pound an acre. Four years later, a large homestead of 1,400 acres facing on Plumper Sound was developed by Charles Trueworthy.
After a ship went aground at Boiling Reef in 1886, land for the East Point lighthouse was purchased from well known Gulf Island pioneer, Warburton Pike, for the installation of a coal burning lighthouse.
Up until a few years ago in this cliff area, human skulls and bones could be found from bloody massacres that occurred between raiding enemy bands. The waters between Tumbo Island and Saturna were described by a Saturna settler as running red with blood during this infamous time.
In 1919, the first school was built, soon after followed by the post office.