The original drawing for the development at the potholes.

The original drawing for the development at the potholes.

Albert Yuen’s dream at the Sooke Potholes

Destination resort development never quite got off the ground

Deer Trail became a lost cause

Devil’s Potholes is one of the earliest references we have found to the fascinating rock formations beyond the falls in the upper Sooke River, a location that led to one man’s dream of a destination resort.

It was in 1982 that residents became aware of heightened traffic and industrial activity on Sooke River Road leading to the property rising above the deep gorge cut in the mountainside by the torrents of the Sooke River.  The Sooke River is among the largest watersheds on southern Vancouver Island.

Since the 1930s the rocky terrain had been known as Deer Trail, a name coined by then-owners, nature lovers George and Sis Weiler.  When Albert Yuen acquired the property he saw the potential of the spectacular outcropping as the site for a world class resort and conference centre.  It was touted as a $50 million development that would provide employment for 150.

A Victoria developer, Yuen had a penchant for appreciation of beauty in nature and also the practicality of re-cycling.  An example was recycling of industrial equipment and resources, and he began amassing items such as retired railway ties from the CNR line and vats from the closed down Labatt’s Brewery in Victoria.

As time went on and the initial funding assistance from a government program was completed, the resort construction of stone and old growth timber was stalled.  While his plans for the dramatic location drew the interest of architects and investors from around the world, it appeared that a meeting of the minds between Yuen and potential investors did not occur.

Many visitors were drawn to the DEER TRAIL site to witness the partially-built enterprise which included a stone cavern barbecue large enough to roast an ox.  But in time, deterioration of materials unprotected from the weather led to concerns for safety.

In 2004, after a series of changes in plans and zoning, and financing issues, the property was acquired by The Land Conservancy and the Capital Regional District as parkland, and the Yuen dream came crashing to an end.  Partial dismantling of the lodge structure followed and today little remains but stonework. The illustration accompanying this column is from a promotional leaflet; the enterprise itself was never completed to the extent of this image.

For the curious sightseers of today – no, it is not the ruins of an old castle – but perhaps more accurately the ruins of one man’s dream.

 

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read