In 1864 gold was discovered along a tributary of the Sooke River and the rush was on. The tributary was named the Leech River after the man who discovered the gold, Lt. Peter Leech, and it became the site of Leechtown, a community of more than 3,000 gold hungry souls. The gold rush was short lived but it had a tremendous impact on the area. The bonanza changed from gold to timber with the Kapoor Logging Company flourishing in the early part of the century in the area of Leechtown. Eventually Leechtown and the road between Victoria became part of the Galloping Goose Regional Trail encompassing 54 kilometers.
The legacy of the pioneers who toiled for gold was commemorated in September with a bike rack fashioned to look like a placer miner panning for gold. The bike rack was placed at Kapoor Regional Park close to the Sooke Potholes Regional Park. It is valued at $5,000 and was funded through TD Bank.
At some point it was discovered that the placer miner bike rack was cut off and stolen from the Kapoor site. This has the Vancouver Island Placer Miners’ Association distraught.
“It was cut from the foundation and stolen, we are incensed,” said Dr. Patrick Lydon. Lydon is a member of VIPMA and he is offering a $5,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprit(s) who stole the bike rack.
The reason for the distress is that the Kapoor site is where the association wants to hold their 150th anniversary celebration of Leechtown in July 2014. Also at issue is the fact that an older commemorative plaque was stolen and the cairn was vandalized in the past. The cairn was repaired but the plaque has never been recovered and the association still hopes it will turn up somewhere.
“The historical crossovers are surreal,” said Donna Chaytor, communication director for the VIPMA, “as the original cairn was vandalized and from it was stolen a brass plaque many years ago, of which we have looked for.”
Lydon has spend the last 10 years writing a book, Gold Will Speak for Itself about the gold rush days at Leechtown.
If anyone has any information on the stolen bike rack, contact the Crime Stoppers Tip Line….1-800-222-TIPS (8477), the VIPMA at email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or CRD Regional Parks at 250-360-3332.