Salish Sea Market specializes in ‘where did you get that?’

Pieces of driftwood furniture serve as display props for unique items throughout the Salish Sea Market


That’s the first word that springs to mind every time I walk in to the Salish Sea Market in Bowser. Each time I visit there is more high-quality product to admire and salivate over. If I am looking for a special gift that exudes ‘the Island’ this beautifully-designed artisan market is one of my favourite ‘go-to’ spots. I never come away empty-handed, and from what I have seen of other patrons that is not an unusual state of affairs.

Co-owners Sharon Waugh and Lauri Gwilt have designed a truly unique shopping environment focusing on the various creative mediums offered up by the many talented artists and crafts entrepreneurs who inhabit the shorelines of the Salish Sea, which encompasses the Strait of Georgia, Juan de Fuca Strait and the Puget Sound area. The confines of the market are a tip of the hat to the many surroundings that make the area what it is. There is a ‘forest’ section featuring all sorts of woody art, both decorative and functional.  The ‘cannery’ section focuses on art and items featuring salmon and other fish-related industries that have sustained many in the area, and the charming ‘cottage’ section offers up all sorts of delights for the home or vacation get-away. There is some inviting driftwood furniture scattered throughout as well – truly iconic of the area.

Works of art in varying sizes and price ranges offer visitors many options. These beautiful and unusual fridge magnets will suit even the tightest budget

The products run the gamut, from giclee prints and bird houses  to stunning jewellery, unique items of hand-made clothing to soaps, culinary products, carvings, metalwork, pottery…the list is endless.  The market currently represents 55 artists – an impressive rate of growth since its opening in June of 2010 and one that bodes well for those seeking a true souvenir of the Island rather than the trashy stuff seen in so many places. The offerings found at Salish Sea are unique, beautiful and very reasonably priced.

Bowser is a little off the beaten track, being located on the ‘old’ Island Highway( Highway 19A), which wends its way along the  east coast shoreline.  Those in a big hurry heading north from  Nanaimo tend to take Highway 19 (the ‘new’ Inland Island Highway) , which bypasses all the quaint communities along the waterfront, Bowser included. Whether you live on the Island and are looking for a day excursion, or are visiting from afar, my advice is to opt for the old highway, take your time, enjoy the scenery and settlements and, for sure, stop in at the Salish Sea Market. Guaranteed, you won’t regret it! They definitely live up to their claim that they specialize in ‘where did you get that?’

The Salish Sea Market is open Monday to Friday 10-5, and Saturday from 10-4, closed on Sundays.  It is located in Magnolia Court, the only ‘shopping centre’ in Bowser at  6996 West Island Highway.

For further information:

Creative displays abound at the market, as evidenced by this charming display of hand-made clothing

        The GPS co-ordinates are:

Long. -124.67465937137604

                     N 49 26.082   W 124 40.480


About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers.
In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.


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