Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park
About This Park
Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park on peaceful Galiano Island is rich in natural and cultural history. White shell beaches, open meadows, tidal lagoons, towering forests, craggy headlands and abundant bird life are just a few of the things that attract visitors to this park in the southern Gulf Islands.
The park starts five metres below sea level and climbs 180 metres to a steep rocky precipice. Visitors can moor their boats to one of the 35 buoys in sheltered Montague Harbour or come by ferry and camp in one of the scenic vehicle-accessible or walk-in campsites. The park is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic or afternoon of exploration. Located within the park is Gray Peninsula, which was inhabited by First Nations peoples before the arrival of Spanish explorer Dionisio Galiano in 1792. Skirting the northwest edge of the peninsula is a spectacular rock ledge that was carved into rippling patterns by the movement of glaciers thousands of years ago.
Montague Harbour, with its sheltered waters and abundant salmon and shellfish, is heir to a rich history. The white shell beach on the north side of the park marks one of several shell middens – evidence of native occupation dating back more than 3,000 years. Castaway shells left by centuries of harvesting form berms on the foreshore in many areas of the park. Wave action erodes the middens, crushes the shells and redeposits them to create Montague’s white shell beaches. Archaeological excavations of these protected middens have unearthed arrows, spearheads and stone carvings, helping to unravel the stories of earlier cultures.
Montague Harbour is a delight for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers in any season, but particularly during the long hot days of summer. Naturalists and bird watchers enjoy a climate and ecology found nowhere else, making Galiano Island a haven for many rare and protected plants and more than 130 species of birds. The waters around Montague Harbour attract flocks of wintering birds including diving ducks like scoters, buffleheads, goldeneyes and mergansers.
Special Features: On the northwest edge of Gray Peninsula is a spectacular rock ledge that was carved into rippling patterns by the movement of glaciers thousands of years ago. The park also features a salt water marsh between the main campground and Gray Peninsula, and evidence of First Nations culture that dates back more than 3,000 years. Middens are located in the north side of the park and in the harbour.
Middens are protected under BC law. Do not disturb these archaeological sites. Help protect them by accessing the beach using the stairs where ever possible.
In your exploration, please remember to carefully replace overturned rocks in their original position. Look but do not touch or remove any shells or marine organisms from the park.
Maximum vessel length for the dock is 11 metres or 36 feet.
All vehicle accessible and walk-in campsite and group site reservations must be made the BC Parks reservations system. When reservations are not available all campsites function as first-come, first-served.
Campsite reservations are accepted for 16 drive-in sites and 28 walk-in sites. First-come, first-served sites are not available from May 12 to September 2.
Group Camp Reservations
Group campsite reservations are accepted at this park.
Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park is located on the southwest side of Galiano Island approximately 10 km northwest of Sturdies Bay. BC Ferries provides vehicle and passenger service to Sturdies Bay from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island and from Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver. The park is located on Montague Park Road; follow signs to the park from the ferry terminal. Boaters can reference marine chart #3442, #3462, #3463 and #3473 for more information on this area.
Nearby communities include: Galiano Island, Saltspring Island, Victoria, Nanaimo, Duncan, Vancouver.
Maps and Brochures
- Park Map [PDF] (August 29, 2018)
Nature and Culture
- History: Montague Harbour, with its sheltered waters and abundant salmon and shellfish, has a rich human history. The white shell beach on the north side of the park marks one of several shell middens (refuse heaps) that indicate native occupation that dates back more than 3,000 years. Castaway shells left by centuries of harvesting form berms on the foreshore in many areas of the park. Wave action erodes the middens, crushes the shells and redeposits them to create Montague’s white shell beaches. Middens contain many of the archaeological clues that help to unravel the stories of earlier cultures. Middens are protected by law. Do not disturb these archaeological sites.
- Cultural Heritage: The arrival of the Spanish explorer, Captain Galiano, in 1792 marked the European discovery of the Gulf Islands. Montague Harbour, named for a naval officer, first appeared on a British surveying chart around 1859. Gray Peninsula was settled in the late 1890s by Captain Gray, who cultivated an orchard that supplied fruit to residents in Victoria. Remnants of this old orchard can still be found.
Conservation: Montague Park is rimmed by diverse shoreline – on the open shore, the shifting surface of sand and shells prevents large plants and animals from making their homes. Acorn barnacles grow in intertidal zones, together with the giant barnacle, edible mussel and Japanese oyster. At low tide scores of ochre sea stars can be seen on the rocks, feeding on barnacles, mussels and sea snails such as the whelk and periwinkle.
A rich habitat of flora and fauna can be viewed in the small salt marsh on Gray’s Peninsula. A lush mixture of Douglas fir, western red cedar, grand fir and arbutus characterize the park. Skirting the northwest of the peninsula is a spectacular rock ledge that thousands of years ago was carved into rippling patterns by the movement of glaciers.
- Wildlife: The forest, rocky coastline and rich tidal lagoon attract many birds year-round. Great Blue Herons, glaucous-winged gulls, black oystercatchers, northwestern crows, belted kingfisher and bald eagles can often be seen scavenging and soaring over the seas in search of a meal. Horse clams, littleneck clams and butter clams find a safe sanctuary by burrowing beneath the shifting sands on the open shore.
Activities Available at this Park
Saltwater/ocean fishing is permitted, subject to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) regulations. A permanent shellfish closure is in effect along the south shoreline of the park adjacent to the wharf. Shellfish harvesting in other areas is subject to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) regulations and closures. All anglers should check the current regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to fishing. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Rockfish Conservation Areas occur within this park. Fishing activities are limited in Rockfish Conservation Areas. Before you go fishing please refer to the Rockfish Conservation Area descriptions available from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
Pets on Leash
Facilities Available at this Park
Some facilities in the park are wheelchair-accessible.
This park has campfire time restrictions:
Cooking fires are allowed from 7:00 am – 9:00 am; 11:00 am – 1:00 pm; and 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Small campfires are permitted after 7:00 pm. These restrictions will improve air quality and firewood conservation while still permitting fires. Visitors must use campfire rings, which are provided at each campsite. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented.
During the camping season, firewood can be purchased from the park operator. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park. Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small.
Cold water taps are located throughout the park. Water is available from March 15 to October 31. This water is treated and safe to drink.
Pit or Flush Toilets
Vehicle Accessible Camping
28 walk-in/cycle-in in sites are available to the left as you enter the park, above the parking lot near the wharf. These sites are situated in the forest above Montague Harbour. Campsite reservations are accepted for all 28 walk-in sites.