Hornby Island is located off the eastern shore of central Vancouver Island, just east of Denman Island. Depending on how well you catch your connections it will take you 5 or 6 hours and three ferry rides to get there from Vancouver. Once there you can drive all the way around in about 20 minutes. What makes this little island a special destination is that it’s bursting with both art and nature. With one of the highest per capita populations of artists in Canada and approximately 25% of the island kept as nature reserve, it’s a veritable plant/art bonanza. Nature’s own artistry can be seen everywhere, like at the beach in the form of surreal Hoodoo sandstone formations or wind-shaped Arbutus trees. You can also visit the provincial parks and relax in the serenity of rare coastal old growth Douglas-fir forest, endangered Garry oak meadows and rare coastal grassland plain awash with wildflowers in spring, Even Prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia fragilis) puts in an appearance, growing here at the extreme north end of its range and flowering around June.
Once you’ve done all this and visited the many other natural beauty spots you can grab a studio map and work your way around the resident creatives that are spread out all across the island. Once considered a hippy enclave, nowadays a residential plot on Hornby will set you back around half a million dollars. Yet people remain from the earlier days, when the island was more rough around the edges, keeping the environmental, alternative, legendary community-spirited sensibility alive. Locals will tell you it’s quiet most of the year until July/August when tourists descend it high numbers, at which time artists make their studios accessible daily. But it’s not just the commercial artists that are creative, as everyone seems to partake in a little artistic imagination that stems from the natural world.