The Ferry Hill

liquor store island

If the large and tacky 'liquor store next left' sign doesn't turn you off, the daunting hill just might.

 One of the most effective barriers to being over-run by pedestrians from ‘the outside world’  is the ferry hill.   The rise from the ferry dock to the post office can be a challenge to anyone who is not used to it, or carrying a few extra pounds.    Since ferries operate pretty much at sea level, and the gulf islands are fairly elevated, ferry hills of varying degrees are quite common on this coast.  During those rare spells of real nasty winter weather, maintaining the ferry hill for traffic is a challenge, and our local highways crew is usually right on top of it.   Between the inexperienced winter drivers, the rush for the ferry, and the balding summer tires on many local vehicles, loss of traction on that hill would spell disaster.

Gabriola’s ferry hill was established very early on in the settlement of the north end of island.   Half-way up the hill, to the right, a millstone quarry used to operate, and the road went at least that far.       Initially, much of Gabriola’s original development was at the south end of the island, where agriculture was the prime activity.     People came and went from Degnan Bay, Silva Bay and The Maples (a lost dock at the south-east tip of the island).   The north end development was primarily driven by the quarry work  along the ferry hill and up Easthom Road, and by the first recreational developments that evolved along the shoreline at Gabriola Sands and out Berry Point Road, via the Taylor Bay Road.   The ferry hill soon forged its way up to South Road and things developed from there, with the arrival of the north end post office and later the T&T – which is a whole story in itself.

 entertaining  or irritating signs

They may inform you, annoy you or entertain you, but the assortment of signs that assault you on the way up the ferry hill are mostly illegal.

 Twenty-odd years ago, when the ferry ramp was a little simpler and more accessible,  it was not uncommon to have some wild stunts off the end of the ramp – maybe on New Years or Halloween.    Some alcohol/testosterone-charged  lad would go blasting down the ferry hill on an old bike, through the opened gate, and off the ferry ramp, to the delight of anyone waiting for the ferry.     One eccentric gent – Yuri – was also a sight to see – his long hair flying and a violin under his arm - on a unicycle – coasting down the hill.  He didn’t jump off the ramp, but he may play his fiddle if you were lucky.

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Long-time Gabriola Island resident over 21 years of age.

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07 2010

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