The hatchery and farm at Veitch Creek back in 1940.

The hatchery and farm at Veitch Creek back in 1940.

Veitch Creek and the trout hatchery

Sooke historian Elida Peers writes about the past in the Sooke region

Veitch Creek looked a bit different back in 1940, when it had a blend of dairy cows and a trout hatchery. This scene shows Gillespie Road in the background, curving its way down from Sooke Road.  The hatchery structure was situated on the eastern lower level as you go down Gillespie hill.

The name Veitch comes from James and Margaret Veitch.  James was born at Craigflower Farm, where his father was an early employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  In 1892 the couple, with their small daughter Ada, took up land they called Burnt Timbers Hunting Ground near today’s Connie Road.

Their daughter Ada grew up to marry John Doran, a pipeline plant worker. Were this view to extend further back, you would see the dairy farm and home of John and Ada Doran (Sooke Way Dairy) west of Gillespie on Sooke Road. You might have seen Ada Doran on horseback, rounding up the cattle.

On the east side, further back, you would have seen the old Lorimer home (later Highway Grocery which burned down in 1982) and further back still, the 17 Mile House.

During the 1930s and 1940s the trout hatchery, established as an experimental facility by the province, was run by a Mr. J. D. Inverarity. The bridge over Veitch Creek located as we know it today, would be just out of camera range at the lower western corner of this photo. We understand that the hatchery raised both cutthroat and steelhead. Bill Hewlett, now retired to Port Alberni, whose grandfather Wilfred Shawyer was a neighbour to the hatchery, said the 12” to 15”prize winning specimens had to be guarded from young fellows wanting to hook into them.

A series of small waterfalls on Veitch Creek led the first independent settler of the new colony of Vancouver’s Island, in 1849, Captain Walter Colquhoun Grant, to establish his water-powered sawmill where this creek reached Sooke Harbour.

Up until 1929, there was no road connecting Sooke and East Sooke, travel was by boat. When the connecting road and Roche Cove bridge was built, the route took the name Gillespie Road from George Gillespie of Grouse Nest.

 

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

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