It’s been gone since 2007, but for 25 years, Shakie’s Hamburger Stand on Highway 14 at Jordan River was the must-stop place for visitors and surfers alike.
While Jordan River had evolved as a busy town in 1909 with the advent of Vancouver Island Power Company and as headquarters for harvesting the Jordan River Valley forests, by the late 20th century, the village had few permanent residents.
Instead, it became a mecca drawing surfers and ocean watchers.
Later in the century, it was Western Forest Products that took the leading role in a succession of corporate giants in forest harvesting. There were smaller operators as well, such as Les Wade. He operated a hilltop shake mill on the eastern side as you descended into Jordan River.
Busy as he was cutting cedar shakes, Les Wade saw the opportunity to provide food service to the hungry hordes swarming to the western beaches. In 1982, he set up a hamburger booth on the highway near where you see the log sort now, and business began pouring in.
Because Les Wade had become known as Shakie Wade through his milling, it was only natural that the hamburger booth became known as Shakie’s.
After a decade, Shakie Wade felt like taking life a bit easier and sold the booth to Cathy Lajeunesse, who operated a little store in Jordan River. The place was so popular you had to wait in line at Shakie’s for burgers, fries, giant ice-cream cones. Cathy was even recognized in a national magazine for her chocolate chip cookies, Surfer Balls.
I recall waiting in line one winter day while one of the waitresses paused to answer the telephone. The caller asked a question, for we heard her answer with one word, “HUGE.” We understood, for indeed the breakers were huge.
Today, the breakers are still huge, and some folk call this the best surfing beach on this side of Hawaii.
Change comes, however, and today, mainly because of B.C. Hydro concerned the proximity of its upriver diversion dam and the potential for a disastrous earthquake, most locals have left for other homes elsewhere.
An entire new population is now extending Jordan River’s home sites well beyond the potentially hazardous river mouth. While a new culture is being enjoyed, they’ll not have the opportunity of sampling Shakie Burgers.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.