The Sunday Times, London, UK
Published 22 March 2015
Most Brits who emigrate to Canada settle on the west coast, in or around Vancouver, because the climate is so mild. It rarely drops below freezing; winters may be rainy, but the resulting greenery is dazzling. For those who work in Vancouver, but don’t want to live in the Big Smoke, Bowen Island is a natural haven – it’s an hour’s commute to downtown, including a 20-minute ferry crossing, but the 20 sq mile coastal island feels worlds away. Densely forested with douglas fir, spruce and cedar, dotted with lakes, valleys and beaches, with views of snowcapped mountains on the mainland, this is wild, vintage Canadiana: blackberries grow on the roadsides, eagles soar above, deer roam the woods (and eat the gardens), and the population is only 3,400.
Yet it’s wilderness lite: there’s a Tuscan restaurant, a French bakery-cafe and an organic food shop. (This is muesli-and-Birkenstock territory.) At the Artisan Square shopping centre, you’ll find a chocolatier, a cashmere store and a naturopath. Bowen Island has two primary schools, two provincial parks, a golf course, a yacht club and a beach club. A four-bedroom house might cost Can $775,000; the equivalent on the mainland would be $2m.
WHY WE LOVE IT The perfect commute: the ferry is a chilled way to start the day.