Passage Island is located in Howe Sound, Queen Charlotte Channel between West Vancouver and Bowen Island. The island is very small, land area covers approximately 13.52 hectares (33.4 acres). It is divided into 61 lots. The island is mostly woodland and cliffs. It marks the entrance to Howe Sound, and the ferry between Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo regularly passes it. The island borrows a postal code, V7W 1V7, from the wealthiest community in Canada, West Vancouver. However, Passage Island is actually overseen by the Islands Trust and is part of the Metro Vancouver

Regional District. It is isolated from West Vancouver by approximately two km (1.2 mi) of ocean.

Passage Island was named by Captain Vancouver because is lies midway in the passage, Queen Charlotte Channel, between Point Atkinson and Bowen Island.

In 1893, the island was sold for a dollar an acre by a banker named Keith and was later bought in the late 1960s by a developer named Phil Matty. “No utilities, no garbage trucks, no telephones, no fire stations, no policemen, no industry—just 32 acres of beautiful British Columbia. I escaped to that paradise for a few hours each week to move rocks, saw logs, watch the tide come in and go out—all in the name of therapeutic basket weaving. It was like having my own personal psychiatrist. I loved it. I loved it so much that I bought it.”

Per Wikipedia, Sep. 2021.

After the purchase he divided the island into 61 lots and chose one of them for himself. Choosing an innovative saddle structure for the roof, he built his 1000 sq.ft. home on a lot in front of south bay facing Vancouver city. For a fascinating description of his adventure click here. These days his son Kim lives in that house with his wife and 2 children.

For more interesting news articles, follow the links here

Escape to Passage -Cottage Magazine Article date

Racoon Story

About the Hermit

Articles about Passage Island in news or magazines

  • Mrs Keith, Vancouver Province, Nov 18, 1937, p.18

·  Mrs. A.J. Keith, Pioneer, Dead, Vancouver Sun, Nov 19, 1937, p.14.

·  Mrs. A. J. Keith Died Thursday: Was Widow of Pioneer of Vancouver, VancouverNews-Herald Nov 19, 1937, p.2

·  Mrs. Anne Keith Taken by Death: Was Daughter of Hudson’s Bay Factor-Born in Old Fort Victoria, The Colonist, Nov 20, 1937, p.2

·  Roma Carter, “No Mystery About Passage Island: Hermit Who Lives on Little Howe Sound Isle Is No Recluse, but Just Kindly Man Who Fled the Depression”, Vancouver Province Magazine, May 4, 1940, p.2.

·  Laura Gray, “Passage Island Hermit”, Montreal Family Herald and Weekly Star, October 2, 1940, p.34.

·  “Fire Destroys Hermit’s Home”, Vancouver News-Herald, Nov 8, 1943

·  “Hermit Burned Out On Passage Island”, Vancouver Sun, Nov 8, 1943.

·  “Hermit’s Home Burns on Island For Second Time in Four Days”, Vancouver Province, Feb 25, 1944.

·  “Island Hermit Burned Out Third Time”, Vancouver Sun, Feb 25, 1944, p. 15.

·  “Hermit Happy and Hungry”, Vancouver Sun, Feb 28, 1944, p.11.

·  “Relief Officials Get Cold Reception From Aged Reculse”,Vancouver Province, Mar 2, 1944, p.6.

·  “Hermit Moves In on Friend”, ?, Mar 6, 1944. (Not Van Sun,Province,News-Herald,Colonist)

·  “Hermit Gets Bed in Jail”, Vancouver Sun, Mar 6, 1944, p.2.

·  Hermit Day invitation, Aug 2,1997

·  Miss Keith, Vancouver Province, Nov 22, 1958, p.13.

·  “Park Plan For Island In Sound: Passage Is. Under Study By Westwood”, Vancouver Sun, Jun 24, 1959, p. 29.

·  “Public Park Suggested for Island”, Vancouver Province, June 26, 1959, p.2

·  “Saving ‘Passage’ Worth All Speed”, Vancouver Sun, Jun 26, 1959, p.4.

·  “Mystery Man Buys Marine Park Site”, Vancouver Province, July 20, 1959, p.16.

·  “Marine Park Out, ‘Too Hazardous'”, The Colonist, July 21, 1959, p.5.

·  “Island in Howe Sound Subdivided for homes”, Vancouver Province, May 6, 1965, p.12.

·  “Phil Matty’s Rock: Where The Gulls Are”, Weekend Magazine, No. 3, Jan. 15, 1966, Vancouver Sunday Sun, pp. 38-39.

·  “Water bomber shows its stuff”, Vancouver Province, Aug 24, 1967.

·  “Concrete and Curvy”, Western Homes & LIving/Vancouver LIfe, July 1969, pp. 42-43. (Article about Sinclare House)

·  “Island Home”, Western Living Magazine, August 1976, pp. 28-31, and cover (Article about Helssen House)

·  Joy Bradbury, “The Private Park of Passge Island”, Western Living, October 1981, pp. 150-154.

·  Phil Hanson, “Fast Donzi’s A Forerunner Of Lifeboat Fleet”, Vancouver Sun, April 20, 1982, p. B9.

·  Joanne Blain, “Tranquility on the Rocks”, Vancouver Sun, June 23, 1984, D1.

·  High Notes, Vancouver Province, Sept. 1988

·  Phil Matty, “Passage Island Retreat”, Mother Earth News, Sep-Oct, 1988, pp. 46-53. (Article about Matty House)

·  Tom Waters, “Natural Design”, Camera Canada, Autumn 1988, pp. 12-15.

·  Stewart Bell, “The Liquid Highway”, Vancouver Sun, Nov 14, 1992, Front Page of B.C. Extra Section, (article about island school children)

·  Ric Mazereeuw, “A Piece of The Rock”, Vancouver Magazine, November 1992, p.98 (article about Vernon House)

·  Robert Bringhurst, “Fast Drumming Ground”, Howe Sound Review, Winter 1992, pp. 16-21. Reprinted (without illustrations) in Howe Sounds, Richard Littlemore, Ed. Bowen Island Arts Council, 1994, p3-11.

·  “Boater Rescued”, North Shore News, Feb 23, 1994, p.5.

·  “Blown Ashore”, Pacific Yachting, June 1994, p. 42.

·  Phil Matty, “Potable Water”, B.C. Waterfront & Island Property Guide, Vol 1, No. 5, July 1994, pp. 44-45.

·  Catherine Mari, “A Fowl Affair”, Cottage Magazine, Summer 1994, page 6.

·  Phil Matty, “In Favour Of Manned Lighthouses”, B.C. Waterfront & Island Property Guide, No. 8, Oct 1994, pp. 43-44.

·  Phil Matty, “Action Of Lighthouse Keeper Saved Pair”, Vancouver Sun, January 12, 1995, C1.

·  Bill Kimmett, “ESCAPE TO PASSAGE”, Cottage Magazine, Nov-Dec 1995, Vol 4, No 5, pp. 22-25.   

·  Narvaez’s Chart (Spanish), 1791

·  Galiano’s Chart (Spanish), 1792

·  Captain Vancouver’s Chart (British), 1792.

·  August 1891, showing a party of J.C. Keith, E.E. Rand, J.D. Townley, B.T. Rogers and Miss Rose Townley (Mrs Grange V. Holt) as a boating party in one of the little bays. The same bay in which Mr Thompson Lives. C.V.N.Out.36,P.Out 129

·  1940, Family Herald and Weekly Star of Montreal Oct 2nd 1940 prints an illustration of John Thompson, captioned “A hobo all my life”.

Passage Island mentioned in books

·  Aerial Photo of Passage Island by Leonard Frank, pre-1948.

·  BRITISH COLUMBIA COAST NAMES, by John T. Walbran, Douglas & McIntyre, 1615 Venables Street, Vancouver, B.C. V5L2H1, 1971, (P.I. mentioned on Page 375)

·  BOWEN ISLAND 1872-1972, by Irene Howard, Bowen Island Historians, 1973. (P.I. mentioned on Page18, and stories about J.C. Keith on pages 74 and 170)

·  EXPLORING THE COAST BY BOAT – Volume I, by Frieda Van der Ree, Gordon Soules Book Publishers Ltd., 1352-B Marine Drive, West Vancouver, B.C. V7T1B5, 1979 (P.I. mentioned on Page 128 and Map on Page 138)

·  ISLAND HERITAGE BUILDINGS, by Thomas K. Ovanin, Islands Trust, 1984. (no mention of Passage but P 157 shows the Hood Point Hotel on Bowen owned by J.C. Keith, the first Passage owner)

·  BRITISH COLUMBIA PLACE NAMES, by GPF and Helen B. Akrigg, Sono Nis Press, 1745 Blanshard Street, Victoria, B.C. V8W2J8. 1988, (P.I. mentioned on Page 229)

·  VANCOUVER AND ITS REGION, edited by Graeme Wynn and Timothy Oke, UBC Press, 1992, (P.I. mentioned in photograph on Page 2)

·  CRUISING GUIDE TO BRITISH COLUMBIA, VOL 3-SUNSHINE COAST, by Bill Wolferstan, Whitecap Books, Vancouver, 1992, (p. 103 has brief history of P.I.)

·  THE VANCOUVER AREA DIVING GUIDE, by Carl Trepanier, Gordon Soules Book Publishers Ltd., 1352-B Marine Drive, West Vancouver, B.C. V7T 1B5, 1994, (pp. 74-79 has excellent P.I. diving information with maps and pictures)

·  101 DIVES, by Betty Pratt-Johnson, Heritage House Publishing Co, Unit #8, 17921-55 Ave Surrey BC V3S 6C4, 1995, (pp. 94-95 has P.I. dive info)

·  B.C. Fishing, Saltwater 1995 Directory and Atlas. (Mark White, Lot 20, on Cover)

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