Denman Island was named after Rear-Admiral Joseph Denman in 1864 by Captain Richards, while he was conducting marine surveys for the British Admiralty in the Comox area.
It became known as Denman Island after originally being named Pentlatch Island after the First Nations tribe who used the island as a summer fishing and hunting location.
Later, Japanese settlers established themselves at the south tip of Denman Island at the turn of the century.
The present day General Store was built in 1908.
The Community Hall was built in 1912.
Chief Andy Frank
Chief Andy Frank was born on Tree Island (Sandy Island Marine Park) in 1906. He used to joke about being born in the “Tree Island hospital”. Chief Frank was a respected and effective diplomat between pioneers and the aboriginal people. As hereditary chief of the Comox Band, he made every effort to keep his culture current by teaching the younger generations all he knew about the legends of the West Coast native peoples.
He is fondly remembered for his stories about the intricately carved masks worn during his ceremonial dancing. Chief Andy Frank and family were considered honored guests at many of the Denman Island Women’s Institute summer gatherings. He died from complications due to an unfortunate accident at Fin Island, near Hartley Bay, about 80 miles south of Prince Rupert, BC.
Denman Island’s First Ferry
The first government ferry between Denman Island and Vancouver Island was christened the “Catherine Graham” in 1954. This ship replaced the “Moniker” that had been operating since 1935 by independent contractors. The namesake of the new ferry was a seventeen-year-old Denman Island resident, who had been born, a tiny 3-pound baby girl, aboard the “Moniker”, during a bitterly cold night on January 15, 1937.
Denman Island Museum
Administered by the Denman Island Seniors and Museum Society, the Museum acquires, preserves, and makes accessible artifacts, archival records, and historical reference material pertaining to Denman Island. It was moved to its present location at 1111 Northwest Road (across from the General Store) in 1995. It’s holdings relate to the settlement and development of Denman Island, and include an extensive photographic collection depicting early settlers and their homes, schools, churches, logging, fishing, farming, businesses, railways, lighthouses, and ships (including ferry service), manuscripts/records including minutes, accounts, etc. of community organizations and schools, maps relating to early settlement of the land and to the marine area.