SOOKE HISTORY: Grant’s mill: a historic water-powered sawmill

Today this site is marked by a historic shield erected by the Sooke Region Historical Society

It’s a good thing we aren’t limited to the guidance offered by this map today, but it’s interesting to view these Surveyor-General’s notes of August 1864.

Captain Walter Colquhoun Grant, a Scot, was the first immigrant settler to purchase land in what would become the province of British Columbia, making the purchase for 100 Pounds Sterling in 1849.

While Grant’s hundred-acre land purchase was located on the harbourfront between today’s Maple Avenue and Gatewood Road, his ambition was to develop a lumbering industry, and he found a suitable spot at the eastern end of the Sooke inlet.

The creek that we have come to know as Veitch Creek finds its way to the inlet in a series of small waterfalls heading down from the hills.  A bridge on Gillespie Road crosses over this creek today.  It was here that Captain Grant set up his ambitious undertaking, using the force of the water tumbling down the creek to power his sawmill.

Today this site is marked by a historic shield erected by the Sooke Region Historical Society, and if you are hiking along the Galloping Goose Trail, you’ll find it close alongside Mike and Kathy Hicks’ bed and breakfast at Hutchinson Cove.

Captain Grant had a contract from the Hudson’s Bay Company to undertake initial surveying of the area, but he appears to have been a restless man.  Not content with developing a field crop at his homesite in upper Sooke and harvesting timber for his mill, he preferred to spend time with the social scene of Victoria, and also journeyed as far as the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) in search of a market for his lumber. We have not located, however, a record of a significant cut from the mill.

At the time that the Surveyor General drew this sketch in 1864, Captain Grant had been gone from these shores for more than a decade, and it was the Leech River goldrush that was making the headlines.

Reference the notation “Sooke Harbr,” in earlier times, the two distinct sections of our Sooke inlet were called the “inner harbour” and “outer harbour.”  Today we refer to the “harbour”, and the “basin.”  Note that the script says the route from Victoria would be improved, and indeed, it was only another eight years, in 1872, before a road of sorts was put through connecting us to the metropolis of Victoria.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

 

 

Just Posted

Life-Altering experience

Six weeks that served to change their view of the world

UPDATE: Father on trial for murder describes being ‘tackled’ and ‘stabbed’ in Oak Bay apartment

Oak Bay father takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Province rejects criticism from Saanich councillor over McKenzie Interchange

Transportation ministry says project will ‘significantly lower’ greenhouse gas emissions

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

Most Read