Gabriola Island, Salish Sea

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Gabriola Island is one of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia. It is located about 3.1 miles (5 km) east of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and connected by the BC Ferry service.

Gabriola is part of the traditional territory of the Snunéymux First Nations, whose name was anglicized and adopted by the nearby city of Nanaimo. Before the arrival of Europeans, several thousand people lived on the island, in a large village at False Narrows, and several smaller villages scattered around the coast. The population of the Snunéymux declined drastically from smallpox and other diseases brought to North America by Europeans. The first European visit to Gabriola was by the Spanish schooner Santa Saturnina under José María Narváez in 1791. Narváez is said to have given the name Punta de Gaviola to the southeastern end of the island. Over time, "Gaviola" may have been corrupted into "Gabriola" and applied to the whole island. No Europeans settled in the Nanaimo area until the discovery of coal there in 1852. Coal miners and ex-gold miners began to move to Gabriola, where they started farms to supply the growing population of Nanaimo. By 1874, 17 settlers were working the land on Gabriola, and two-thirds of those had First Nations wives and families.

On May 13, 2018, a human foot was found washed ashore on Gabriola Island. Since August 20, 2007, at least 20 human feet have been found on the coasts of the Salish Sea in British Columbia, and in Puget Sound, Washington. This odd phenomenon has captivated residents and scientists, and perplexed area law enforcement. Read more here and here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore the shoreline of Gabriola Island.

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