The logging truck trestle over Bear Creek

Sooke History: The roads to Port Renfrew

Road access to Port Renfrew via Shawnigan Lake Road opened up the secluded community to the rest of the world.

After years of isolation in Port Renfrew, when one had to travel by coastal steamer to get out into the larger world, it was a pretty exciting day when a logging road connected them to Shawnigan Lake Road.

Today when we can whiz on a paved road from Sooke to Port Renfrew in little more than an hour, it may be hard to visualize what was written in the Victoria Daily Times in May 1957: “Port Renfrew was once one of the most isolated communities on south Vancouver Island.”

The newspaper goes on to say: “At Port Renfrew we found that most of the people haven’t yet recovered from the shock of being connected with the outside world. ‘The road has opened the door to a new life for us’ said one logger. ‘Some of us, before, only got out of here once a year.’”

Service between Victoria and Port Renfrew was provided by the CPR’s SS Princess Maquinna from 1913 to 1952. In the late 1940s and early 1950s a patched together route of the logging truck railway systems in the San Juan Valley could carry passengers by speeder cab as far as Bear Creek, where they could then drive by motor vehicle to Shawnigan Lake and on to the Malahat highway.

Two well-known Sooke men who can recall travelling through to Renfrew by this route when they were young are Lorne Christensen and Doug MacFarlane. So to actually sit in an automobile and drive the entire scenic mountainous access route on weekends when the trucks weren’t running, was cause for celebration indeed.

A year later even more good news came for the logging community when a series of logging roads connected Port Renfrew to Sooke in 1958.

Today’s asphalted circle route from Victoria to Sooke to Renfrew to Cowichan Lake and back to Highway One would have seemed a miracle to those hardy pioneer loggers and their wives.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.

 

Just Posted

Hundreds rally in support of horse carriages outside Victoria City Hall

Crowd angry with Coun. Ben Isitt’s motion to ban local horse carriage industry

Forbes Group proposes a new medical clinic for Sooke

Four doctors will have space adjacent to a new pharmacy

Five-month bridge closure poses early impacts on drivers during rush hour

Construction began Tuesday on the crossing commonly known as the Bay Street bridge

Rifflandia Festival cancelled for 2019

Early Bird tickets can be refunded at point of purchase, or held and redeemed for 2020

Several hundred SD 62 students team up to clean the shoreline

Effort aimed at keeping Esquimalt and Albert Head Lagoon trash-free

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Young Victoria distillery earns prestigious Scotch awards

Scottish influences range from techniques to ‘kilted tours’ at award-winning business

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Brewpub offers ‘boat valet’ for paddlers during Surfrider celebration tonight

Free ‘Surf Formal’ evening features a local art auction, door prizes, live music

Building a close-knit community in Sooke

Knit 2 Purl Together a community event

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Most Read