Travel Story 

The best of Thetis Island

Clam Bay Bed and Breakfast

The folks on Thetis Island are justifiably proud of their volunteer fire department. After all the men and women standing-by on 911 are their friends and neighbours – part of a close knit community of around 350 people where almost everyone knows everyone else. And certainly everyone knows Donna Kaiser who runs her legendary catering service from her B&B on Clam Bay. So when a fire was reported on Clam Bay Road the crew immediately knew it would be "a catered affair". They were right. By the time the burning shed had been doused Donna had fresh coffee and muffins waiting for them on the back of the fire truck.

That was last winter. Donna chuckles as she tells the story and pours me an early morning coffee.

"We're a pretty self reliant bunch here on Thetis," she says, "even the coffee beans are fresh roasted right here on the island every week."

With only 350 permanent residents Thetis is one of the least populated of the Gulf Islands and yet it is one of the most accessible. The regular ferry from Chemainus takes a little more than half an hour to reach Preedy Harbour on Thetis. Except for a couple of marinas the island has very little commercial development, no public parks, limited overnight accommodations – and that's exactly the way the locals would like it to stay.

Betty and I "discovered" the Clam Bay Cottage B&B, Donna's place, in 1998 and have come back as often as possible ever since. Located on the southeast corner of Thetis Island, at the very end of Clam Bay road, the main house and adjacent cottage face the ocean on a point of land surrounded by arbutus trees and gardens. The view across Trincomali Channel, past Reid Island to the cliffs of Galiano is classic Gulf Islands – the sort of scenery that can lure you into the outdoor hammock, or one of the comfortable lawn chairs for an hour or a day of just relaxing, watching the boats go by, and feeling the tensions of city life ebb away with the tide.

Indeed many of Donna's guests come here to simply veg-out and recharge their batteries. The two tastefully furnished rooms in the main building, the Arbutus Room, and the Louise Room, where Betty and I are staying, each have armchairs, great views, and a selection of good books. And both have easy access to the common living room with its picture window, fireplace and extensive library. The nearby cottage, where daughter Barbara and family are settled in, is completely self-contained with two bedrooms, kitchen and spacious living room with fireplace. For the less sedentary among us, Clam Bay B&B is also an ideal base for exploring the central Gulf Islands by kayak.

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