Jacob’s Creek tragedy continues to haunt community

Accident on bridge in 1946 claimed lives of six teenagers

We have RCAF reconnaissance planes and a historic photo album held by the family of Colonel S. C. Clegg, Commanding Officer of the Dufferin & Haldimand Rifles Regiment at Otter Point army training camp in 1942 to thank, for a fascinating series of photos.

The view here shows a little cove that many of us may recognize as the same beautiful cove that can be seen at the Point No Point resort today. Identifying the trestles, though, would likely have represented a challenge for most readers.

Looking closely at the span in the center, you can see the bridge trusses of the old Jacob’s Creek bridge, the one that spelled death for six teenage Sooke students on December 7, 1946.

The span closest to the coastline carried rolling stock for Island Logging Company, a railway logging outfit that built an extensive railway system between Point No Point and Jordan River during the late 1920s and early 1930s. The upper span, built slightly to the west to accommodate a bend in Jacob’s Creek, was a part of Island Logging’s track system as well, and we understand there are still remnants of railway steel in the woods there. The company’s steam locomotives included a Vulcan and a Shay, equipment that later went to the San Juan Valley.

To the right of the photo, one can see a roadway and an open field; this appears to be part of an old orchard established by a pioneer called McQueen years earlier.

The tragedy at Jacob’s Creek continued to haunt the community for many years. Six boys, all students at the newly-opened Milne’s Landing High School, and aged 14 to 18, were on the return journey from a basketball game at Jordan River.

It was winter, the road was graveled, the night was dark, the bridge was curved. The crosswise planking of the bridge was overlaid with two narrow lengthwise strips of planking intended for the tires of vehicles to run on. Once the tires went off the top planks, a driver could find it difficult to avoid losing control and crashing through the wooden railing.

None of us who were in the community have ever forgotten December 7, 1946.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

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