Headwaters Park

Headwaters Park Boardwalk (Photo courtesy O. Plowman)
Headwaters Park: the viewpoint (Photo courtesy O. Plowman)
Headwaters Park Boardwalk (Photo courtesy O. Plowman)


The 15 acre Headwaters Park, located off Cowan Point road, is the product of a local developer’s efforts, with assistance from the Bowen Island Conservancy and Bowen Island Municipality. The park is now part of Bowen Island’s municipal park system.

The core of the park is a fen wetland, ringed by young conifer and mixed forest. A perimeter trail and a boardwalk over a portion of the fen provide easy access, and a wealth of opportunity to observe and appreciate the area’s interesting habitats.

Headwaters Park is so named because the water drains in two directions from it. One, north, under Cowan Point Road into Quarry Park, and then under the causeway down through Bowen Brook, under Adams Road, and into Terminal Creek. Two, south, down an unnamed tributary of Bowen Brook, which flows under Adams Road and then into Terminal Creek. The wetlands in the park therefore filter into Terminal Creek and become one of the sources of water for the Cove Bay Water District.


George H. Cowan (1858 – 1935), a lawyer and Federal Member of Parliament for Vancouver at one time, owned over 1,000 acres comprising almost the entire southeastern portion of Bowen Island. Wolfgang Duntz and John Reid acquired 120 acres around 2000. Their original intention was to incorporate an 18 hole golf course into the area. But a further subdivision of the parcel occurred and John Reid acquired 30 acres, while Wolfganz Duntz retained 90 acres.

John Reid was visiting Kelowna, and happened upon a “greenway”. He was so taken with the idea that he incorporated it in his development plans, setting aside 15 acres (half the property) for a park/greenway surrounding the wetlands. These wetlands and the land surrounding them have become Phase 1 of Headwaters Park, which is an important component in the creation of an island-wide trail and greenbelt system. .

John constructed a trail around the wetlands, and a boardwalk on the west side leading to an island in the middle of the wetlands. In 2009, a trail was cleared on the island, and a second boardwalk was built from the island to the eastern part of the trail, providing an attractive loop through the surrounding wetlands, and displaying many species of sphagnum moss.

This final link in the trail system was funded through a joint venture of the following groups:

  • The Maggie Cumming Legacy Fund, administered by the Bowen Island Community Foundation (The late Maggie Cumming was a granddaughter of George Cowan);
  • The Bowen Island Conservancy;
  • Bowen Island Municipality.

The east side boardwalk was built by local Bowenshire Landscaping, with design by Wil Hilsen (Bowen Island Municipality) and Josephine Riley (representing the Greenways Advisory Committee and the Bowen Island Conservancy).

A substantial amount of the materials used in the construction of the boardwalks were milled by Bowen Forest Products from blowdown cedar, and the decking used was offcuts from a research project by FPInnovations (the forest industry research facility at UBC).

The entry way, across-island trail, and east side entry trail were all completed with volunteer help. The construction of the boardwalk was monitored on behalf of the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the B.C. Ministry of Environment, by Whitehead Environmental Consultants Ltd.

The park is a fine example of a number of community groups and businesses working together to create a lasting legacy for Bowen Island.

Click on the map below to download a PDF version, courtesy of Will Husby.

Click on the images below to see a larger version

Headwaters Park Boardwalk (Photo courtesy O. Plowman)
Headwaters Park: the viewpoint (Photo courtesy O. Plowman)