The flume at Jordan River.

The flume at Jordan River.

The Jordan River flume

Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke region

Today it might be hard to imagine that the flow of water that powered the generators at the Jordan River plant that produced the electricity to serve Greater Victoria was carried on the wooden flume shown here.

The Daily Colonist reported on Friday November 26, 1948: “Seventy-five feet of water flume serving the Jordan River power plant of BC Electric Rlwy Co Ltd was swept away by a landslide early yesterday morning, resulting in a drastic cut in electricity for the city. The flume, constructed entirely of wood, is six feet deep and eight feet wide.”

The 1948 Daily Colonist went on: “Large industries were immediately affected … local shipyards made a partial halt in operations … many householders made voluntary power cuts … Approximately 60 % of the power served to the lower end of the Island comes from the Jordan River plant, BC Electric officials said.”

With construction beginning in 1909, the hydro-electric system developed at Jordan River was a monumental undertaking of engineering that at its peak employed one thousand men, under the direction of Superintendent Duncan Irving Walker.  Once the system was in place, with the flume carrying water 5 ¼ miles from Diversion Dam to the forebay reservoir, thence via penstocks to the plant, most workers moved on.  A substantial community of operational staff, however, remained at the river mouth, resulting in a significant hydro payroll for Jordan River well past mid-century.

Maintenance of the flume, perched precipitously along steep hillsides, was an ongoing challenge.  For three decades Albert Sjoberg was maintenance supervisor, with crew access along the route provided via a narrow gauge railway.  Ted Banner joined the maintenance crew in 1942, later serving as a supervisor, stationed with his wife Frances at the upper level of Camp 2 until his 1965 retirement.  Ted’s son Cliff Banner, a Company employee as well, recalled: “… the flume with its footings just clung on the rocks in places – it had all been built by hand …”

Originally cedar, the flume had been rebuilt mainly with Douglas-fir in 1926. The tons of water it carried meant major work was required again by the late 1950s, lining with plywood. Several of the men in those repair crews, young fellows at the time, may be seen about town today, including Hilly Lewis, Evan Haldane, Bobby Nelson and Ross Pitre.

When the hydro system was re-developed in 1971, the flume’s service was over, and crews engaged in salvaging the lumber.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke Road was down to single lane alternating traffic after a motor vehicle incident Wednesday morning. (Google Maps)
UPDATED: Sooke Road reopen after motor vehicle incident

Emergency crews were on scene of Wednesday morning incident

A BC Ferries worker out of Swartz Bay has tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Swartz Bay ferry worker confirmed to have COVID-19

Employees in direct contact with worker now isolating

Island Health has reported possible COVID-19 exposures at Glandford Middle School in Saanich on Feb. 8, 9, 10, 11 and 17. (Google Maps streetview)
Island Health reports COVID-19 exposures at Saanich middle school

Exposures occurred between Feb. 8 and 17 at Glanford Middle School

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

David Wighton is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the winner of the Coaches Award. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Life-changing lessons shared after 55-year coaching career

David Wighton is the 2021 recipient of the Local Hero Coaches Award

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
PHOTOS: B.C. celebs take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day

‘We need to let young people know they are not alone and they can reach out to others for help’

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Expanding social circles fuelling North Island COVID-19 spike

Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

Average response times for critical “purple” and “red” calls were between nine and 10 minutes Feb. 19 in Metro Vancouver, with only less critical “yellow” calls receiving an average response time of 45 minutes. The longer than usual delay was due to a combination of factors, BC Emergency Health Services said. (APBC image)
After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

B.C. Ambulance Service says high-priority calls were still 10 minutes or less

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Contributed to Kamloops This Week)
B.C. teen in turtleneck, lace-edged dress sent home from school for ‘inappropriate’ outfit

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson was told the lace on the garment made it look like a slip dress

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

Wade Dyck with Luna, a dog who went missing near the Chasm for 17 days following a rollover on Feb. 5. (Photo submitted).
Dog missing for 17 days through cold snap reunited with owner in northern B.C.

Family ecstatic to have the Pyrenees-Shepherd cross back home.

Quesnel RCMP confirmed they are investigating a residential break-in at a home on the Barkerville Highway. (File image)
Thieves make off with $300K in Cariboo miner’s retirement gold

Tim Klemen is offering a reward for the return of his gold

Most Read