After two days of sailing in the Gulf Islands, the wind had died down almost to a halt and we had two options: putter around with the motor on the sailboat or pop in to Salt Spring Island for lunch. In my experience, food always wins. We pulled into the Ganges Harbour on the island and had a few hours to walk around town as far as our sea legs would carry us. What an extraordinarily beautiful and amazing place to spend some time! Here are the three can’t-miss things about Ganges in Salt Spring Island.
Auntie Pesto’s Cafe
Auntie Pesto’s Cafe is a family-owned business located in the heart of Ganges Village, along the waterfront boardwalk. It is the perfect spot if you’re after a great meal in a spectacular setting. From the patio you will enjoy a spectacular view of the harbour in one direction, and in the other, the Grace Point Wind Sculpture by Lyman Whitaker; one of the three public art installments found in the area. Their menu items are made from scratch with locally-sourced, in-season ingredients. Visit in the summer and try the Caprese Salad with organic tomatoes from Foxglove Farms and the freshest mozzarella cheese from Vancouver Island, paired with Salt Spring Island’s very own Garry Oaks Pinot Gris.
Salt Spring Island has long been known for famous artists such as Robert Bateman, and the many art galleries that call the island home. To ensure you don’t miss any highlights, pick up the Art Walk – Ganges Walking Guide from the Visitor’s Centre (or from Auntie Pesto’s) and check out the art galleries, studios, stores and public sculptures outlined on the map. There are also a few cafes and bars included on the tour that showcase local art on their walls. Be sure to check out the Kinetic Wind Sculptures, also by Lyman Whitaker, at the Steffich Fine Art Gallery, located in Grace Point Square. The gallery, the exclusive Canadian supplier of these gorgeous sculptures, is where you can view some examples of Whitaker’s incredible art.
From the first Saturday in April to the last Saturday in October, Ganges hosts a farmer’s market in Centennial park in the centre of town. This market is where you will experience firsthand what makes Salt Spring Island famous for fabulous local art and organically grown food. All 140 vendor’s at the market are required to have made, grown or baked their own wares. I highly recommend the goat cheese from Salt Spring Island Cheese with a dollop of Salt Spring Kitchen Co.’s Lemon Lavender Marmalade. Not only is the market a great place to stock up on the freshest and finest ingredients but you’ll find live music, entertainment and activities for kids to make it a great outing for the day.
I almost wish the wind had stayed away longer so we could have explored more of the village (and had more of that Pinot Gris and goat cheese), but though our time there was brief, Ganges packed a lot of fun into a few short hours and we learned a lot about the area. Including that kinetic wind sculptures don’t fit on a sailboat, in case anyone was wondering.