Connected by a frequent small ferry from Chemainus on Vancouver Island, Thetis Island¹s 340 year around inhabitants live in verdant isolation on its largely undeveloped, Douglas fir covered shores. This tiny island, about 10 square kilometers, enjoys a relatively pristine existence due to the fact that much of its land is owned by three Christian camps, one of which is the international Capernwray. You’ll notice it upon arriving at the island’s ferry terminal. The huge mock Tudor building rising over its spectacular beach and park-like grounds is hard to miss.
Although Thetis has no commercial centre there are shops, artists’ studios, cottage industries, marinas, rental cottages and bed and breakfast homes offering afternoon tea, views, browsing and relaxation.
Telegraph Harbour is a popular destination for those coming by sea, by plane or by road. The post office, local store and other amenities can be found here, along with views of shallow Canoe Pass, where watching traversing boats getting stuck on the sandbars on an outgoing tide is part of the fun! The pass is actually a narrow canal dredged in 1905 which now separates Thetis from Kuper Island, a First Nations Reserve. The shallow waters of Telegraph Harbour are actually warm enough for swimming in summer.
The island can quickly be explored by car, or more leisurely by bicycle or on foot, with plenty of rewards for stopping. St. Margaret’s Cemetery beside Capernwray is worth a stroll. Take the public walkway in front of the camp to one of the most beautiful final resting places anywhere. The cemetery has some very interesting and historical gravestones. A small booklet you can purchase on Thetis contains tales of many of them.
Thetis was named after a British frigate which moored at Esquimalt in the 1850’s. Adjacent Kuper Island carries the name of the boat’s captain.