Someone recently asked if the Sheilds Lake area had ever been logged – indeed, yes, more than once.
This 1948 photo shows truck driver Bert Acreman standing beside a truck with its door labelled “G.E. Bernard Forest Products Sooke, B.C.”
The Douglas-fir logs on the truck were destined to be hauled down Mt. Shepherd Road, which runs into Harbourview Road, and then along the highway towards Cooper’s Cove to the Munns Mill operation, whose enterprise stood just west of the current Shell station. Other logs were dumped on the west side of the cove, right where the restaurant stands these days, where they were formed into booms.
Eric Bernard harvested poles and logs from throughout the region. He had a particular fondness for the area around Sheilds, Grassy and Crabapple lakes, land which he’d bought from the E&N Railway land grant.
In the winter, he frequently took loads of hay up to the higher altitudes so deer could forage when the snow lay deep. Bernard and his wife Marjorie had a cabin at Crabapple for a weekend retreat.
Bernard sold to many different outfits, including the CNR, Moore Whittington, Crowe Gonnason, B.C. Forest Products, B.C. Hydro, and B.C. Tel. To make things easier for hauling equipment, he asphalted seven miles of road almost as far as Empress Mountain.
Eventually, Bernard sold his land to B.C. Forest Products, whose forestry engineer Roy Sworder was headquartered at Cooper’s Cove alongside the log dump. By the end of the 1970s, the B.C. Forest Products land had been sold to a developer with big plans that did not materialize, and now is parkland held by the Capital Regional District.
Bert Acreman was among the seven sons of Benjamin Acreman and Emma Jane Bradley, arrivals from Newfoundland, joining the Mugfords, with whom they were related.
The Mugford Boarding House served as home to schoolteachers and, in 1924, welcomed teacher Annie Johnson, who arrived here from Prince George. It wasn’t long before Annie was married to Bert Acreman, and the couple built a home which still stands at the corner of Sooke Road and Solent Street.
Bert and Annie Acreman had one son, John – must have been a misnomer, as everyone called him Jake. While Jake inherited his dad’s skill with mechanics and drove a truck as well, his real love was farming, and his mature years were spent cattle ranching near Campbell River and in Didsbury, Alta.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.