The Leech River Fault

The Leech River Fault

The Leech River Fault

Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke region

Driving along the road through Sooke, the average visitor wouldn’t know that just a few miles back of us, dramatic fault lines cleave the terrain. The accompanying illustration has had the fault lines accentuated by our photo technician Joan O’Donnell.

I’m the least likely person to know anything about geology, but I understand that at this cleft, the basalt of the Metchosin Igneous Complex is being dragged under Vancouver Island by the subducting Juan de Fuca plate. The fault line runs east from Sombrio and Loss Creek through the Leech valley and then veers southward before reaching Victoria.

Placer mining always attracts attention, and this route has been the focus of prospectors for more than two hundred years. It was the Spanish who sought gold at Sombrio in the 1790s, and much later, a couple of Brits, Arthur MacFarlane and his son Douglas joined the gold seekers, holding claims there up to the late 1960s.

We understand there are several weekend prospectors working claims at Loss Creek. Longtime woodsman Fred Zarelli, who flew fire watch over the area for Pacific Logging, recalls that they could easily see the fault indentation as they perused the terrain carefully, looking  to avoid dangerous wildfires. The pilot was Bruce Payne, who flew the Bell helicopter at 3,000 or 4,000 feet for good viewing.

Gold claims abound in the Leechtown area and in Martin’s Gulch, but all in all, the atmosphere seems a bit quieter today than at some earlier periods when guns and threats made casual visitors leery of accidently getting in the way of another’s claim.

At the Sooke Region Museum and Visitor Centre, back in the 1980s we arranged field trips for staff so that we could offer information and directions to visitors. When Joan O’Donnell was preparing this image for the column, she reminded us that 30 years ago, as a greenhorn out from Scotland, how startled she’d been on our field trip. She recalled that as we were gathered picnicking at the confluence of the Sooke, the Leech and Wolf Creek, “This man armed with a rifle burst out through the underbrush and demanded to know what we were doing!”

The Leech Fault can still be counted on to attract dedicated gold seekers, members of Vancouver Island Placer Mining Association, who are busy planning a celebration for the 150th anniversary of Leechtown. My favorite memories of trips up to the Leech fault are warm sunshine, foxgloves, wigeons in the river and the calling of whisky jacks.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

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

Just Posted

Postmark Group, an Edmonton-based development firm, bought two properties at 6641 and 6643 Sooke Rd. last year, and is reaching out to the community and local groups for feedback before they begin planning the designs for the development. (Photo contributed/Postmark Group)
Waterfront village development eyed for Sooke

Postmark Group development firm bought two properties at 6641 and 6643 Sooke Rd. last year

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
West Shore RCMP continue to investigate shooting death in Metchosin

Man killed on Sooke Road Friday night identified by friends

Alphabet Zoo Early Learning Centre wants to relocate from Langford to 3322 Fulton Rd. in Colwood, but has not been approved for a P-6 zoning by Colwood council. Residents who neighbour the property, have expressed concern to the Goldstream Gazette regarding the potential daycare site. Neighbours Ryan Landa and Selene Winchester said the noise of construction has been disruptive to the area, and the property is not suitable for a daycare. (Photo contributed/Ryan Landa)
Proposed West Shore daycare stirs up controversy amongst neighbours

Neighbouring property owners are concerned about traffic, noise that a daycare would bring to the area

Ravi Jain, Why Not Theatre’s founding artistic director, will present a Zoom lecture as part of the University of Victoria’s Orion fine art series on March 8. (Photo: University of Victoria).
Award-winning directors highlight coming University of Victoria lecture series

The March 8 and 18 Zoom events are part of the Orion fine arts lecture series

Camp Barnard during the 2019 Pacific Jamboree. (Photo: Camp Barnard)
Camp Barnard near Sooke hopes fundraiser will help it progress on accessibility goals

I Care ‘Bout Camp challenge hopes to raise $100,000 for new lodge, replaced kitchen

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Hannah Ankenmann, who works with k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, winces as she received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Vancouver Island’s small remote towns to get community-wide vaccine clinics

Island Health to take a wholesale approach to immunization, rather than age-based appointments

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Most Read