Current News – We are in Watson lake waiting for the greyhound depot to open so we can collect our tyres then we head south. We are slightly delayed due to a mix up in Whitehorse we expected a lovely new rear tyre we had ordered up on the first way through over a month ago but instead they had ordered a full on motocross not even road legal tyre, a quick rethink was necessary hence the greyhound bus option. It now means we have chilly mornings and a few wet days but Liard Hot springs is next….
Our rural route took us down the coast past the town of Sooke where we met Ivan amongst others outside the local food store, after the usual questions and answers most other people moved on but we got chatting with Ivan a bit more and he invited us home.
It turned out Debbie and Ivan were “the” people to meet in Sooke. Debbie was related to an original family of Sooke and we got to look around Woodside farm one of Sooke’s oldest buildings that is not open to the public. The house had loads of character and history including this old wood stove in one of the rooms. The farm belonged to John Muir Snr who came from Scotland with his family to mine coal. The land has been held successively by three families since 1851 the Muirs, Glinzes and Wilfords. The property also had a big red barn in the typical Canadian style and access to the beach where we saw all this driftwood.
Next morning we went to the local cafe “Mom’s” for a hearty breakfast where we saw the deluxe model of an old stove. Outside we took photos of the towns murals on the village hall, we recognised the barn.
The murals showed life in rural Sooke around the turn of the century and are cleverly airbrushed copies of original photographs.
Ivan does some work for the local visitor centre/museum so he was able to show us places that you can’t normally go, like the inside of the lighthouse where we got the full guided tour. The lens and the lighthouse are not a match. The Triangle Island Lantern house was deemed useless as a navigational aid as it stood 700ft up on a cliff top in the middle of the Pacific with gale force winds making it impossible to maintain. The Estevan point first order Fresnel Lens was shelled by a Japanese sub on June 20th 1942, presumably it missed although some of the glass prisms are damaged.The two were bought to Sooke in 2004 and 2005 respectively. The figures on the lens show how it was originally numbered so it could be disassembled for transportation and reassembled on site. The museum got it in pieces and had to reassemble every component by hand.
The visitor centre was also the local museum both inside and out. Moss cottage was Sooke’s oldest standing building from 1870, the wood coming from the nearby Muir mill. There was also an example of an earth kiln.
The large sliced tree sample is from a Sitca Spuce felled in 1979 the tree had over 478 growth rings from its beginnings in 1501. Sitca Spuce average 70 metres in height but can reach 90m. Trees this far north grow far slower than ones in lower latitudes so the growth rings are much closer together, this makes the wood denser and stronger.
Here is a typical polemakers shack from the 1930′s. Polemakers would pick out the tall slender straight trees before general logging got under way to use for electricity and telephone poles. They would live in the woods and travel from site to site.
This picture shows men laying the concrete pipeline from Sooke Lake to to carry water to Victoria. Between 1911 and 1915 the pipeline was built by hand using concrete sections 4 foot diameter x 4 foot long which were fabricated on site at Coopers Cove. To lay the pipe a narrow gauge railway was built and the pipes were carried up by rail and fitted together on the track bed. As the pipeway progressed the railway was taken up. What’s amazing about this project built early in the 20th century long before laser levels and modern surveying tools, is that it fed Victoria by gravity.
Kev asked Ivan what this strange looking boat was all about and he explained that it was a log tug used for pushing and pulling floating logs into rafts prior to being floated downstream. The engine sits in the middle on a 360 degree swivel and is protected by the steel cage underneath. This means the operator can drive it in any direction, it has big steel cleats all around it to catch the logs and a thick solid steel hull to resist the punishment the logs give it.
Our guided tour didn’t stop here, next up a personal friend ran the Salmon fisheries just up the road. Here are the tiny fry that will become part of the Salmon food chain for the bears and people of Alaska. They are incubated in these trays then put into the tanks to grow big enough to be released. Also here was an old Trestle railway bridge you can just make out Ivan at the bottom and Karen at the top. The heavily mossed trees looked like something from a fairytale.
It was just a little way further to the potholes, not what we expected, potholes in England are essentially part of a cave system which you crawl through. Here we were led to a river, the potholes are where the water has rounded scoops out. This chimney stack is part of the remains of a grand building intended to be a film studio, someone spent a fortune building it with the hope of renting it out for movie sets. It didn’t work out and it was abandoned. It’s now gently becoming at one with nature in this remote and exposed area.
We popped in on another friend who runs Kenco a local bike dealership, the cat answers the phone and deals with customer enquiries. The other guy in the picture is Steve. He kindly dropped around some maps and spent time showing us good places to ride and visit in British Columbia. Thanks Steve !
This is Karen getting cozy with one of Ivan’s dogs, he apparently doesn’t like strangers that much as you can tell. The other one reminded us of Laddie our old border collie. Having said goodbye and thank you to Debbie we joined Ivan and Frank for our final ride out.
We followed the coast to Port Renfrew as it wound up over the hills, sadly the views were not visible in the low cloud cover. From here we headed to Lake Cowichan our camp for the night. Ivan and Frank rode with us for most of the afternoon then made a nice loop ride home.
We all recharged our “batteries” with food at Port Renfrew after a look at the jetty. We encountered the odd shower or two before we stopped at the Cypress Spuce a giant of a tree, one of the largest on the Island.
We said goodbye to Frank and Ivan having enjoyed our ride and time with Ivan and Debbie immensely. They were both really friendly nice people who made us really welcome.
Next up – Sproat Lake, Toffino and Ucluelet