This island, originally charted as “Narrow Island”, was named after Capt. Wallace Houstoun, who first surveyed the area in the 1850s. Twisted fruit trees mark the remnants of the garden and orchard planted by Jeremiah Chivers, a Scotsman who retired here after unsuccessful adventures in the interior gold rushes. Chivers lived alone on the island, never marrying, and died here in 1927 at the age of 92.
After the Second World War, David Conover purchased the island and moved here with his wife Jeanne. The couple developed a very successful holiday resort on Wallace Island, and Conover became a successful author, writing four books – “Once Upon An Island”, “One Man’s Island”, “Sitting On A Saltspring” and “Finding Marilyn, A Resource”. In the first two books he described the couple’s struggles and joys after their purchase of the land in 1946. Their resort, the Royal Cedar Cottages, was advertised as having “a modern well-stocked store, cabins, recreation hall and boat rentals.” In the mid to late 1960s, Conover sold the majority of the island to a group of teachers from Seattle. Disagreements among the owners led to court proceedings and the property was again put up for sale. Wallace Island was purchased through the court ordered sale and became a marine park in 1990 through the cooperative efforts of the provincial government and BC Marine Parks Forever.
The flora of this island is typical of many of the Gulf Islands – with dry summers, many plants are adapted to germinate and grow in the winter, flower in early spring and become dormant by early summer. The best time for botanical viewing is March through May.
Black-tailed deer are the largest land animals in the park. Sightings of river otters, mink and harbour seals are common. Sea lions can be found in the area in winter, but disappear during the height of the breeding season in July and August. The number of Bald eagles has greatly increased in the area in the last 30 years and are now frequently sighted. Bird watching here is most productive in the spring, winter and fall.