Trail: Saysutshun (Newcastle Island)
Distance Hiked: 13.77 km
Walking Time: 3 hrs, 14 min
Getting There: Ferry from Maffeo Sutton Park, Nanaimo, BC ($7 return)
History: Saysutshun is the home of the Snuneymuxw people. It is associated with physical and spiritual healing. After European contact, Saysutshun housed a coal mining operation, a fish-salting plant, a shipyard and a sandstone quarry. It is now a protected marine park and an event destination for the Snuneymuxw people. Saysutshun is rich with traditional stories. Interpretive walking tours are available. You can also read some of these stories here.
Hiking at Saysutshun: Saysutshun includes 22 km of relatively flat, well-tended hiking trails. The most popular path is the Coastal Trail that follows the perimeter of the island (7.5 km). At an average walking speed, it is a two-hour hike. We primarily followed this route, but also added a few extra loops.
The Old Sandstone Quarry: The Channel Trail passes through the old sandstone quarry, which has a fascinating history. In the mid-1800s, a search was conducted by the San Francisco Mint for stone of good quality that would stand up against all types of weather. The sandstone at Saysutshun was deemed a perfect fit. 8,000 tonnes of stone were soon contracted. In February 1872, a ship carrying 500-tonnes of Saysutshun stone was lost at sea. The ship, and its contents, was not found until 1976. The first photo immediately above shows one of the sandstone columns that was recovered after 115 years under water.
Ghosts: This island is said to be haunted. In 1869, Kanaka Pete, originally from Honolulu, was found guilty of murdering his wife, child and inlaws with an axe. He was hung in Nanaimo and buried on Saysutshun. His spirit is said to haunt the island and account for ‘chopping noises’ on Kanaka Bay. We listened carefully but did not hear these noises. We did, however, encounter a slight traffic jam (see first photo below).
Saysutshun is a brilliant place to spend time hiking, running, biking, chilling, picnicking, camping or just hanging out on its beautiful beaches. It is also a great place to discover more of Vancouver Island’s rich and diverse history. We highly recommend a visit. But don’t forget your mask. They are currently required for the ferry.
Thank you for joining us for #30hikesin30days.