Dionisio Point Provincial Park: Nature and Culture
The arrival of Spanish explorer Captain Dionisio Alcala Galiano and his ship Sutil in 1792 marked the European discovery of the Gulf Islands. The name Dionisio Point first appeared on a British surveying chart around 1859. From the early 1900s to the 1960s the area was a summer camping spot for commercial inshore fishing families from Vancouver Island. Many of the descendants of these families still use Dionisio Point today, and have assisted with the management of the park.
The large mounds found along the shoreline mark the shell middens (refuse heaps) that indicate First Nations occupation dating back more than 3,000 years.Castaway shells left by centuries of harvesting form berms on the foreshore in many areas of the park. Middens contain many of the archaeological clues that help to unravel the stories of earlier cultures. Middens are protected under BC law - do not disturb these archaeological sites. This park contains well documented archeological sites previously used by the Penelakut First Nation. These sites are fenced to the public and identified though interpretive signage at Maple Bay.
The forest at Dionisio is of Douglas-fir, Western hemlock, Western red cedar and arbutus. Common understorey plants include salal, sword fern and Oregon grape. The wildflowers of the rocky headlands and thin-soiled meadows are most spectacular from February through June.
Dionisio Provincial Park is home to black tailed deer, raccoons and a variety of bird species, particularly in the winter, when visitors can spot Bald eagles, loons, grebes, scoters, golden eyes and mergansers. Bonaparte’s Gulls also flock to the area in April and May and again in late summer.
The park is rimmed by a varied and beautiful shoreline, where fast flowing tidal currents have encouraged a rich intertidal life. At times large quantities of swimming scallop shells can be found on the beaches as well as a variety of intertidal organisms. Sea-stars, nudibranchs and chitons can also be found.