Pender Harbour is a harbour on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, on the east side of Malaspina Strait. The harbour is an intricate amalgam of bays and coves that encroach inland for five kilometres and provide over sixty kilometres of shoreline. Once a steamer stop, a fishing village, and an important logging and medical waypoint, it is now an unincorporated community within the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD).
Pender Harbour’s population is under 3,000, with over 40% of property owners being non-resident (one of them Joni Mitchell, since the early-1970s). Pender Harbour includes the small villages of Madeira Park, Garden Bay, Irvine’s Landing, and Kleindale.
Tourism is an important part of the local economy. The area has an arts community and several annual music festivals. It hosts the second-oldest May Day celebration in British Columbia and the biggest and longest-running downhill longboard race in Canada, Attack of Danger Bay.
Named in 1860 by Captain G
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.H. Richards, RN, after Daniel Pender, RN ( – 1891). Pender arrived on this coast as second master of the survey vessel Plumper, 9 November 1857; served as master of the Plumper and the Hecate; commander of the Beaver (hired from Hudson’s Bay Company for hydrographic work), 1863-70; assistant, Hydrographic Office, London, 1871-84
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Before the first Europeans discovered the area, a vibrant population of First Nations equaled or doubled its current number of inhabitants. Sex’wamin, the Shishalh winter settlement centred on Garden Bay, was likely one of the largest on the British Columbia coast. It is estimated that over 5,000 First Nations people lived in longhouses on the shore near where the Garden Bay Hotel now sits. The Shishalh vacated Pender Harbour and relocated to summer villages up the inlets of Jervis, Salmon, and Narrow. Theirs was the opposite of current migration patterns, which see Pender Harbour’s population swell in the summer and thin during the winter months.