The history of Camano Island – Part II

A couple of weeks ago I asked the question, “Have you Ever Wondered Why It’s Called Camano Island?” But I glanced over the final change to the name of Camano.

As part II of this Camano Island history, let’s explore how we actually got the name, Camano Island!

The Pacific Northwest is known for honoring the native people with names of town, lakes, and rivers.  How on earth, then, did the decidedly Spanish (I mean isn’t it obvious?) name of Camano come to our little island?  For that we go back to the history lesson (no eye-rolling please, you know who you are).

We know from Part I that when Charles Wilkes a.k.a. Captain Ahab chartered Washington and Oregon area coasts beginning in 1838, he named it Macdonough Island.

In 1847, the island’s name was changed again by Henry Kellett, this time to “Camano” (Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere), which is a westernized spelling of the name Caamaño. This was to honor the Spanish explorer Jacinto Caamaño Moraleja, who was one of the first non-native people to travel the area.  Caamaño was based out of a port in what is now Mexico, and sailed up the western coast.  He travelled as far north as what is now known as Prince of Wales Island in Alaska several times during the 1790s, mapping the coastline and naming landmarks along the way.

Many of the names of inlets and bays found along the western coast were given names by Caamaño, and some still remain today.   In addition to our island, Caamaño is also honored in Canada with his name gracing a small body of water off the coast of British Columbia.

Camano Island’s name honors the man who was one of the first to explore this part of the world, making it possible for others to follow in his footsteps and enjoy the beauty and bounty of the Pacific Northwest, including our very own Camano Island.

What’s in a name, you ask? Well, there you go.

Signed — Jan Mather, your Caamaño Island Expert! 360-507-4133

Family Friendly Fun on Camano Island!

Puget Sound offers many fun outdoor activities for the avid and closet adventurist alike and Camano Island is no different. But what about activities that are catered toward quality time with the kiddos?

camano island snow goose festivalSpending some time with us here on Camano Island is an excellent way to treat yourself and your family.  No matter the time of year you visit, there’s always something happening here! Depending on the ages of your little — or not so anymore — ones, here are some fun things you may consider happening year ’round on Camano.

If you visit Camano Island in the last part of the winter, you’ll be able to witness the magnificence of the migratory Snow Goose (say THAT 3 Times fast!).  The Port Susan Snow Goose & Birding Festival is held every year at the end of February on Camano Island and in neighboring areas, with field trips, an art festival, and scheduled birding tours daily to bring the beauty of this magnificent bird to you.

Ready for a little more pep in your family fun? Camano Island can provide that, too!  Every June is the Stanwood Camano Island Soap Box Derby.  Watch as these racers set up and fly by as they speed ahead to win a spot at the national championship, held every year in Akron, Ohio! Who knew, right?

camano island stanwood camano fairIf you want a traditional treat in the middle of the summer, you’re in luck!  The Stanwood-Camano Community Fair is held each August.  This event has something for everyone, from youth livestock displays to a horse show and Western games, with a midway for kids of all ages to enjoy.  With a concert each night, your family will have a frollicking good time no matter what day you attend.

Winding up the festival season each year is the Harvest Jubilee, which is one weekend in September.  Take the time to visit the many farms on Camano Island and be entertained by local musicians while you taste the bounty of our island.

Spending time with your family on Camano Island can be entertaining and educational all at the same time.  Take some time during your family’s outing schedule to enjoy our community events, and let them become a part of your family’s treasured memories.

These are just a few of the family-focused events happening around Camano Island. Check back on my blog often for more fun hints on Camano Island fun!

And… once you have fallen in love with Camano Island like so many before you and are ready to make our little island your home — call me today — Jan Mather, your Camano Island Family-Outing-and-Real-Estate Expert! 360-507-4133

Ever Wondered Why It’s Called “Camano Island?”

For those of us who have been out of school for– *ahem* — a few more years than others… some of the history may be a little difficult to recall. But since I live, eat, and breathe Camano Island it’s high-time to offer some information on the history of our beloved home (or home away from home for our fair-weather friends).

Camano Island — a [Brief, Truncated, and Abridged] History

Image courtesy of islandcounty.netCamano Island, just shy of 40 square miles in size, is located in the Possession Sound area of Puget Sound.  Originally called Kol-lut-chen – or “Land jutting out into a bay” – by the native peoples of the area, Camano Island was not mapped by western civilization until the late 18th century.  Even then, the heavy fog prevented the surveyors from seeing Camano as an island, not a piece of the mainland.

In 1838, acting on the behalf of the US Navy, Charles Wilkes (who some say inspired the character “Captain Ahab” from Moby Dick!) started on an expedition to the Oregon and Washington area coasts to survey and name areas that had previously been only moderately charted and left unnamed.  Wilkes originally named the island Macdonough Island, in honor of Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough, who helmed a 26-gun warship during the War of 1812.  On this expedition, Wilkes also learned that the island was not part of the mainland, and named the narrow passage of water separating the two Saratoga Passage.  In 1847, Henry Kellett reorganized the charts put together by the British Admiralty, he changed the name from Macdonough Island to Camano Island, though he kept the name for Saratoga Passage the same.

The island was much larger at the beginning of the 19th century.  In 1825, the southern tip of Camano Island broke free and fell into Possession Sound, causing a tsunami that drowned many of the Native American residents from the Tulalip nation who lived on neighboring Hat Island.

Today, Camano Island has a permanent population of just over 13,000.  This number swells to over 17,000 during the warmer summer months.  With various festivals throughout the year, Camano Island is now a popular destination for both vacationers and people who want to get away from the hectic pace of urban living alike.

Ready to make your own piece of history with us? Call me today — Jan Mather, your Kol-lut-chen Isla… I mean… Macdonough Isla… I mean… Camano Island Expert! 360-507-4133

Camano Island Art Tour starts Friday!

Come one, come all! The 2011 Camano Studio Tour starts on Friday, May 6 and runs through Mother’s Day May 8 from 10am -5pm, and for the second year in a row has been extended to a second weekend: Saturday May14 – Sunday May 15.

A downloadable brochure (PDF) is available by clicking on the image to the right. The brochure will help guide you to each of the 35 studios and 4 galleries participating in the tour, as well as information on other businesses to visit as you make your way around the Island.

While you may not be able to find clues redeemable for hand-blown glass globes as with the Great NW Glass Quest, new to the Camano Studio Tour this year is a secret message with clues hidden around the tour. Those able to deciper it will be entered into a drawing to win donated art and art classes offered by Camano artists!

If you get stuck trying to de-code the secret message, fear not! Each piece of art being displayed is a treasure in and of itself, just waiting for you to discover. The largest annual event on Camano is held strategically over Mother’s Day weekend to help you find the perfect gift for Mom (hint, hint girls!).

52 local artists are participating in this year’s tour, most of whom will be available to interact with and offer their perspective on the artwork they have created. So please join us as we soak in the beauty of each masterpiece and of Camano Island!

For more information on the Tour, visit the official site:

Buy and By on Camano Island!

buyers dreaming of home in the cloudsEver heard the phrase “buyer’s market” being tossed around like a baseball during pre-game warm-ups? If you’re new to the home ownership game (or if it’s been serveral years and you’re in need of a refresher), you may have some questions about what that really means and how you can take advantage of it.

There are some very technical ways to determine whether a particular market is a buyer’s market. But, let’s not go there…

Instead of wading through a whole lot of technical talk, let’s speak generally: A buyer’s market simply means that there are more sellers out there than there are buyers!

As with most anything, when there is a surplus of items and fewer people in need, prices are driven down. For those looking to buy a home, this means great things! Since there are many people out there currently wanting to sell, sellers are often more willing to negotiate on price, upgrades, concessions or incentives when a buyer is interested.

This comes in handy when you don’t particularly like the shade of purple the house is painted or want to upgrade a tired old dishwasher! If you’re looking to buy a brand new home, common upgrades include appliances, kitchen and bath fixtures or floor coverings.

sold sign on yard signWhat exactly does a buyer’s market mean for a seller? Because there are more houses to be sold than there are buyers ready to buy them, it’s important to know what will get people interested enough to look and how to keep them interested once they’re there.

By keeping the asking price reasonable for the size and location of the house, you’re off to a good start. It’s important to have a good idea of what similar homes in the area are going for so that you don’t scare potential buyers away (that’s where I… or I mean… a good Realtor… comes in).

There is another condition sometimes called “market-wear,” which is when a home sits on the market longer than most because the starting price was set too high. Market-wear also can develop over time because a seller makes price reductions that are too small to gain buyer interest. Avoid these tragic pitfalls at all costs!

Another way a seller can increase the likelihood that their home will sell is their willingness to pitch in on closing costs (there I go with the baseball references again, honestly I don’t know where that’s coming from). A good Realtor will be able to help you figure out the best asking price by reviewing comparable homes that have sold and provide educated suggestions on contributions you should be prepared to make.

staging a home makes a differenceThere are also a number of smaller things that can increase your home’s curb appeal and sale-ability. For instance, according to, houses that are “staged” (furniture and accessories placed strategically around the home to create a neutral, yet welcoming atmosphere) usually sell up to 32% faster and for 3-10% more.

Although it varies according to market conditions, it is very common for sellers to throw in optional appliances as part of the deal. Not usually a huge sacrifice for the seller (other than possibly some sentimental attachment), but to the buyer it could save substantial out-of-pocket expenses and shave off a few trips to the home improvement store!

Another trend gaining popularity is a focus on energy efficient upgrades. As the economy has changed, more buyers seem to be interested in the quality of insulation, energy efficiency of the windows and doors, and heating and cooling systems.

keys to homeBuying or selling, hopefully this post has provided some useful information — but honestly it’s just the tip of the iceberg! Each situation is unique and often calls for a uniquely crafted approach.

If you have specific questions or are ready to buy or sell your first, next, or last home, call me today — Jan Mather, your Camano Island Expert! 360-507-4133

Camano Island State Park — Did You Know?!?

I feel so lucky to have such great recreational areas so close to me.

It is my goal to provide useful information so you too can take advantage of the beauty of Camano Island. For my first “Parks on the Island” segment, I’d like to focus on Camano Island State Park.

(click on map for larger view)

Located on the southwest shore, Camano Island State Park is a 134-acre sanctuary to woodland creatures and sea life. It contains 6,700 feet of rocky shoreline and beach, providing endless opportunities for exploration for both young and… not-exactly-young anymore… Views of the surrounding mountains and Saratoga Passage provide a relaxing and breathtaking escape from the stresses of everyday life.

Established in 1949, it took just one day for 900 volunteers to complete the initial work on the park. Their efforts provided us with what is now the Island’s premiere destination for fishing, clamming, beachcombing, scuba diving, camping, and picnicking!

The camp has 88 tent spaces, two restrooms and two showers. That’s right ladies, 88 tents and two bathrooms — now that is roughing it!

If you prefer to enjoy the outdoors with a few more of the comforts of home, rent one of the five cabins located on the property and stay a while! Each one features rustic furnishings built by local volunteers using lumber from trees cleared from the park. They don’t take reservations, but you can always call to check on availability. Up to five people per cabin.

Camano Island State Park Beach

photo courtesy of

2011 Rental fees: $65 (plus tax) per night per cabin May 15 to Sept. 15.
$55 (plus tax) per night per cabin Sept. 16 to May 14. For more info: (360) 387-1550

Want to lend a helping hand? Volunteers can help out in many different areas, such as serving as a camp host, answering questions from the public; maintaining and restoring trails; and providing routine maintenance such as mowing lawns. If you are interested in volunteering at Camano Island State Park or any other Washington state park, please call (360) 902-8583 or email:

Camano Island State Park camp site

photo courtesy of

Driving Directions: Located fourteen miles southwest of Stanwood and about a 20-minute drive (a little longer on Sundays).

From I-5:
Take exit #212 and head west onto Hwy. 532. Three miles west of Stanwood, take left at fork (road is now East Camano Dr. and no longer SR 532). Drive approximately six miles on East Camano Dr. (At this point East Camano Dr. heads left by Windermere. Keep to main road, which is now Elger Bay Rd). At a spot marked by Elger Bay Grocery, gas station and a café, turn right onto Mountain View. Travel two miles, climb a steep hill, then turn left onto Lowell Point Rd. The road will dead-end at park entrance.

Did I leave anything out about our beautiful state park? Please leave a comment and let everyone know!

Camano Island State Park

photo courtesy of

Interested in homes available around the park or anywhere on Camano Island? Call me today — Jan Mather, your Camano Island Expert! 360-507-4133

The Great NW Glass Quest on Camano Island!

Great NW Glass QuestIt’s that time of year again! The countdown to The Great Northwest Glass Quest is underway and I’m here to make sure that you are ready to go with all of the details of the event.

First off, if you weren’t fortunate enough to participate in last year’s event, here’s a rundown of how it works:

Several local area businesses are holding a treasure… a one of a kind hand blown glass art by Mark Ellinger.

Throughout the event, there are over 300 small, clear globes about the size of a snowball hidden around the community. If you find one of these “clue balls”, follow the instructions inside.

The clues will lead you to the participating business who will exchange it for an authentic, limited edition snowball.

Beginning on February 18, swing by the Stanwood or Camano Island Chambers of Commerce, Gallery by the Bay in Stanwood, Seagrass Gallery on Camano Island, or any of the other participating businesses and pick up your copy of the Quest Event Booklet. That includes me! Come on by the Windermere office located at 1283 Elger Bay Road and grab a booklet. This booklet guides you on your “quest” to find the hidden clue balls.
The Great NW Glass Quest
If you don’t find a clue ball, all is not lost! Each business listed has a stamp to add to your Quest booklet; grab those stamps! When you have five stamps from different businesses on the tear out stub located in the back of your booklet, you’ve just earned an entry into the drawing in March.

If you can’t wait that long to get your hands on one of these spectacular pieces of art, use your stamps to purchase a snowball at a 30% discount at either of the Galleries listed.

For my participation in this great event, I will be holding a drawing to give away one of the snowballs! Entries will be received from all guests to my open house on February 20th, and at 4:00 when the open house closes I will be drawing the winner.

My open house is at 1082 Bayshore Dr, Camano Island. Remember to come by between 1:00 and 4:00 to be entered into the drawing! You don’t need to be present to win.

This event runs February 18 through 27, 2011 (but my open house is just on February 20th).

Other things to know:
• Brought to you by the Stanwood/Camano Winter Tourism Committee.

• In Stanwood, visit the Gallery by the Bay, 8700 271st Street NW (360-629-4297) and, on Camano Island, come to the Seagrass Gallery, 370 N. E. Camano Drive (360-387-8300).

The Great NW Glass QuestThe Great Northwest Glass Quest is part of a larger, 10-day invitation to “Spend a Day on the Edge” of Puget Sound. You are encouraged to get to know our community by touring a working farm, visiting our local parks and beaches, perusing the quaint shops, museums, galleries, and other distinctive businesses that await you.

• A QUEST Decal in the window will mark the over 70 participating businesses.

• The artist, Mark Ellinger, will be blowing glass from 10am to 6pm each day of the event.

• QUEST sites include beaches, parks, farms, trails, businesses, restaurants, and local accommodations.

• Visit the official site at

• View the 2010 winners

• To visit the Facebook site and “like” the page, you can go here.

What a Great Year on Camano Island!

2010 was filled with family, friends, fun, travel and prosperity, and I would like to share some of the highlights of my year with you.


As most of you know, I have two daughters, one son, and four How exciting it is to see my grandchildren grow, currently their ages are 2, 10,11 and 12.

One memorable play-date started with a wrestling match (my son is Ray Mather, head wrestling coach for familyStanwood). We then had tacos for lunch and headed to the movies to enjoy “Yogi Bear.” It was a very fun day enjoyed by all.

My youngest grandson is talking so much and learns sign language at his day care. He is a natural at signing while he talks. I am thankful my family is all within a close area as I see them often and love creating new memories with them.


I love having gatherings with friends, especially in the summer with the sunshine beating down on us while we cook way too many oysters and a ton of other food on the barbecue. I swear I can eat enough oysters for 4 people!

One of my favorite parties is my annual 4th of July Day. If the day starts cloudy, I perform the Sun dance I learned as a Camp Fire Girl and by late afternoon, we have full blue skies and plenty of sunshine! The day ends with a real bang as we watch fireworks set off on the beach below and flashes of all kinds can be seen on Whidbey Island as well. It is totally awesome!


My fun is, in a word, simple. I love to read, camp, go crabbing or clamming, walk the beach or have a bonfire.

familyOne of my favorite things to do is camp on a small property I have that is filled with huge trees. It’s so rewarding to build a large campfire and sit around with family and friends. Of course, refreshments and food are always familypart of the fun, but for these outings we skip the oysters and opt for the typical “roughing it” sort of food — wouldn’t be camping without it!

I love to go boating, and my new venture this summer will be kayaking. It’s something I have always wanted to do, and the time has come.


Wow, where could I have gone that would have been new? But I love exploring new parts of local or frequently visited areas, even if it is only an hour away. We always have a good time just spending a night somewhere in Seattle, Bellingham, Vancouver, Anacortes, La Conner or Everett, and love trying different restaurants.

My favorite extended trip is Palm Desert. I pretty much live on the air mattress! We spend all day at the pool, and try something different each night. It is always fun to meet others and we usually share a meal or two with new acquaintances. Last year, we took the tram up the hills, I highly recommend it!


Despite the economic down-turn and housing market, I feel I had a very successful year and appreciate the referrals and loyalty of my clients. THANK YOU!

With all of the happiness and memories of 2010, I want to welcome all of you in 2011 to enjoy Camano Island’s rich beauty- from the parks, art events and trails, to the crabbing, clamming, camping, and being the easy Island without a ferry.

I appreciate your comments and thoughts and would love to hear about your 2010 and plans for 2011. I wish you happiness and joy and a healthy New Year!

Curious About Camano Island???

Tucked away between Whidbey Island and the mainland, some people may not know much about Camano so this post is dedicated to ‘putting it on the map.’ Speaking of which, if you click on the map below, it will pull up a larger image.

Camano Island is just a hop and a skip up I-5, only 55 miles north of downtown Seattle on Highway 532. It is 20 miles north of Everett and 2 miles west of Stanwood.

Camano is located in Island County in the Olympic rain shadow and receives less rain than neighboring areas – only 17 to 20 inches annually.

camano island real estateThe east side of Camano features panoramic views of Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, the Cascade Mountains and quiet Port Susan. The west side features unparalleled sunsets and boat traffic through Saratoga Passage to La Conner and the San Juan Islands.

Boating, salmon fishing, clamming and crabbing are bountiful on Camano. A beautiful State Park and County Park are available to all. Common outdoor activities include sailing, hiking, water skiing, beach-walking and water sports and a challenging 18-hole golf course is available to all “aspiring duffers.” Bald eagles, blue herons, snow geese and other wildlife are prevalent. Quality of life is the main attraction to Camano, with large evergreens creating a magical setting only seen on Camano. Island County has the second lowest crime rate in Washington.

Ranging from less than 1 mile to more than 7 miles in width and almost 20 miles in length, Camano Island boasts 56 miles of shoreline. The topography is punctuated by low hills in central Camano and altitudes range from sea level to 540 feet.

Now that you have some of the details, are you ready for a more personal tour to look at available property? Call me today! Jan Mather, Camano Island Expert: 360-507-4133.

We’re in For a Colorful Spring on Camano Island and Stanwood!

I’ve been in the Real Estate business for a season or two (ha, ha) and one thing that I’ve come to expect is the cyclical housing market slow-down during this time of year.

Thanksgiving dinner Jan Mather Camano Island Expert

If your home isn’t flying off the market this week, it’s likely more related to tryptophan-induced sluggishness or slow recovery from Black Friday marathon shopping sprees than anything else. Thus begins the Real Estate “lull” marked by the beginning of the Holidays as folks get busy with family celebrations, and typically stays slow through the first few months of the new year. One sign of buyers being more active is the increase in the number of colorful “sold” signs that go up around our communities in the Spring.

This year in addition to more of these “sold” signs coming out and adding color, I’m also looking forward to a lot of extra color around our community from another source.

tulip Jan Mather Camano Island ExpertThanks to an anonymous donation of thousands of bulbs – daffodils, tulips, irises, crocuses, etc., the Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation held a community event entitled “Think Spring” where these bulbs were made available at no charge to be planted in community or public spaces.

sold sign Jan Mather Camano Island ExpertIt was a very fun event, I felt privileged to participate and I’m looking forward to seeing an increase in colorul signs AND colorful flowers this Spring!

If you are considering buying or selling a home in 2011, now is the perfect time to begin discussions and I would consider it a privilege to be your Realtor, so call me today! Jan Mather, your Colorful Camano Island Expert! 360-507-4133.