This shot of Silva Bay was taken from Westgyle Rd.
In the 1860’s recent Portuguese immigrant John Silva relocated from Mayne Island to Gabriola and purchased a parcel of land that included what is now known as Silva Bay. It is about the only place-name on Gabriola that reflects the arrival of the many Portuguese people who settled on the B.C. coast. It was John Silva who donated the land for the log church in Silva Bay.
According to the late Jim Davis, a long-time resident of the bay, Silva paid a whopping $1500 for the 75 acres that included the bay. That was a lot of money in the 1800’s. It wouldn’t pay his taxes today.
A descendant of John Silva (Henry) lived at the head of the bay for years in the pink house that still stands (barely) today.
In early 30’s, according to Annie Watson, a long time resident of the bay, there was an abundance of large black and white rabbits in and around Silva Bay. There origin is uncertain, but they thrived there – until the depression. Times were tough, and they pretty much disappeared after that – most likely ending up in rabbit stew.
For many years, the ‘Boatel’ was a fixture in the bay, with Audrey and Leo LeLoupe trying to make a go of it. Leo had one of the best selections of fishing lures on the coast. Their little store was a place to hang out for a cup of tea with Leo and get caught up on the local gossip. The prices were a little steep and the merchandise a little old, but the view was great.
Of course there is plenty of history in the shipyard, where work was done during the war. Although Pages Marina, across the bay, is a consistent and peaceful place, the large marina goes up and down with the tide. Each change of owner over the years has brought a different flavour to the place. At one time it had a small hotel and made an attempt at running a spa of sorts, but a fire and another ownership change left it vacant and run down. It is usually a busy place in the summer – despite the management. The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club has an outstation across the bay, and being the closest sheltered moorage this side of the Salish Sea from Vancouver, the whole bay is usually crowded with boats every summer weekend. Fortunately many of them wear white pants and are easy to spot as they wander ashore and toddle up and down South Road.
Some local wags still refer to the marina as ‘saliva bay’ or ‘spit bay’ marina for no other reason than it is irreverent and worth a chuckle. It is even more of a chuckle that – in the aviation world Silva Bay has an ‘airport’ code – SYF. Stick that on your baggage!