Howe Sound may not be the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti or the pyramids of Egypt, but this part of British Columbia could certainly stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the world’s greatest landmarks.
Howe Sound stretches from Gibsons and Bowen Island, around Gambier and Anvil islands, all the way up past Lions Bay and Britannia, ending in the city of Squamish. Viewed by air, by car or by boat, this natural wonder is a cultural landscape that connects people with the land.
I’m writing this letter to The Chief in hopes of raising the profile of Howe Sound by sharing why I passionately believe this part of the world is worth preserving, especially in an age of urban sprawl where the divide between city and suburbs is quickly fading away.
UNESCO defines world heritage as “our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations.” UNESCO believes that “World Heritage Sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.”
Is Howe Sound worthy of this title? My answer is YES! Absolutely.
Howe Sound is a unique part of the world because of its rich cultural history with the Squamish and Shishalh Nations who lived, fished, traded and travelled within the sound for thousands of years.
Brigade Bay, located on the northeast side of Gambier Island, was once a popular camping spot for First Nations travelling up the sound. The Defence Islands, today under administration of the Squamish Nation, represent a cultural landmark as these islands were historically used as a burial ground. Accessed only by boat, petroglyphs created thousands of years ago offer us a momentary glimpse into the past.
Lastly, the settlement along the waterfront of the Mamquam Blind Channel is still today home to many families of the Squamish Nation.
The sound is also a geographical treasure because it offers us many examples of Earth’s history. Watts Point, just north of Britannia, is made up of volcanic rock dating back to the Pleistocene age. Offering us fresh water through waterfalls, streams and rivers plus a rich marine ecosystem for plants and animals, the sound also plays an important role in the rejuvenation of B.C.’s salmon, prawn and herring industry.
Driving along the Sea To Sky Highway and looking out on the water evokes such a breathtaking “wow” feeling that the B.C. Lotto Corp. saw it fit to use footage from this drive for one of their Lotto 6/49 commercials.
If left unprotected, Howe Sound will become eroded and vulnerable under the impact of the irreversible changes from the industrialization of Howe Sound.
For more information, visit www.protecthowesound.ca