How Boneyard Lake got its name

Deer bones discarded in the lake after a hunt

So where did Boneyard Lake get its name, a nice young fellow asked. Boneyard, of course, is one of the lakes that outdoorsy people often take note of in the Sooke Hills.

There’s Sheilds Lake, named after the James Sheilds family that settled up the Sooke River in 1883, and there’s Grassy Lake, so-called because of the profusion of grasses with which the lake bottom is endowed.

I believe Crabapple Lake received its name from Eric and Marjorie Bernard, who admired the wild crabapples growing along the lakeshore near the getaway cabin they built.

Glinz Lake, of course, was named for the brothers Arnold and Leonard Glinz who homesteaded there in 1911, with the intent of building a hunting lodge. The Peden Lakes, closer to the Sooke River, bear their name because of the famous Peden brothers of sports fame who built a hunting cabin there.

So why does Boneyard Lake that can be reached via Butler Mainline and then Boneyard Road, on the west side of the Sooke River, carry such a strange name?

Well, it wasn’t long after the first European settlement that the Sooke and Otter districts developed a reputation for great hunters, and this is what led to the name. Back in those days, the deer did not graze on our village lawns, but lived in the woods, foraging on the new growth that sprouted up each spring.

Our well-known Velma Jessiman, pictured, a Poirier by heritage, recalls as a child told about the earlier Poirier and Goudie generations of hunters who typically went up into the hills west of the Sooke River, where they would camp in a primitive cabin and hunt for the winter’s meat supply.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, some Victoria eating places offered wild venison on their menu. To supply that market, of course, they looked to the fine marksmen that had access to the game in the Sooke Hills. Once the venison was ready, it would be freighted to Victoria to delight discriminating palates.

Who better than Sooke and Otter hunters like the Poirier brothers and the Goudie brothers, for example, to meet that demand? We are told that these hunters were reluctant to load the extra weight on either their own backs or their horses’ backs for the return trip, so they would butcher the carcasses on site, discarding such items as deer legs, only carrying out the choice marketable cuts of venison. Where were the bones discarded? Why, submerged in the handy Trailside lake, of course.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum

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

Just Posted

Victoria PD will continue to patrol James Bay for wolf seen Saturday

But police also say they will return to regular duties

Journey Middle School students try out the trades

Program is designed to expose students to career options

Local Monarchist says Saanich Peninsula would be a ‘great place’ for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Bruce Hallsor also expects the couple’s professional opportunities to lie outside Greater Victoria

Court rejects mistrial for accused Victoria drug dealer who fired his lawyer

Horst Schirmer filed a mistrial application on basis of receiving incompetent representation

Saanich seeks young residents to serve on 2020 advisory committees

Youth members must be between 16 and 24 years old

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

VIDEO: Drone footage shows extent of damage in Highway 4 rockslide

Tofino, Ucluelet still cut off from rest of the island, as crews work to repair roadway

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Most Read