Driving the piles home.

Driving the pilings home

Another snap shot of Sooke's past written by local historian

Of fish traps and fir trees

 

The 150-foot long Douglas-fir pole seen here in the 1940s was not destined for a sawmill or for a foreign market. It was being hauled from among the majestic specimens that towered in the Muir Creek watershed to take its place as a piling driven into the ocean floor in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The enormous length of this piling required the utilization of two trucks to support it while being carried from the forest to the sea. While it is more than 50 years since the salmon fishtraps were installed each year to intercept fish on their way to their spawning rivers, the industry flourished for half a century.

Steam-powered piledrivers were used to drive piles into the water to form a fence that might extend half a mile into the Strait. When the incoming salmon reached the fence, which was lined with heavy-gauge wire mesh, their instinct drew them out to deeper water in an attempt to circumvent the barrier. Instead, they found themselves entangled in a maze from which there was no escape.

At the next “lift” of the traps, the salmon would be brailed out of the net into the hold of a fishpacker, and be on their way to canneries in Victoria, Steveston or Vancouver. Some of the springs went to the fresh market in Victoria and Seattle.

Generally five such traps were installed between Kirby Creek and Becher Bay each year. Before being overtaken by the rapidly mechanizing forest industry, this operation, first known in 1904 as J H Todd & Sons and later Sooke Harbour Fishing & Packing Co, was the mainstay of the area’s economy.

Piles such as this would be used at the deeper end of the barriers while much shorter ones were driven in graduated lengths closer to the shoreline. One can scarcely imagine the woodsmen’s skills needed to fell a tall slim Douglas-fir such as this, cushion its fall, then raise it to rest on supporting frameworks of two trucks, for its short journey to offload into the local waters.

Bert Acreman, working for G E Bernard, was one of the truck drivers hauling in this photo. Imagine if one were to see a sight like this along West Coast Road today!

 

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

Just Posted

Celebration of Life hosted for 29 Victoria trees set to be removed

Community Trees Matter Network hosting “goodbye and thank you” for trees on Fort Street

Head of Greater Victoria builders warns of changing construction climate

VRBA director Casey Edge also questions Saanich’s commitment towards housing affordability

Saanich police are looking for a man who exposed himself Saturday night

The incident exposure happened at the intersection of Feltham Road and Shelbourne Street

Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit returns to Royal BC Museum

Exhibit will feature award-winning photographers from around the world

Victoria-bound plane slides off icy Edmonton runway

Crew, passengers had to disembark via bridge stairs

VIDEO: Hundreds enjoy lunar eclipse through UVic telescopes

Rare “super blood wolf moon” allows a closer glimpse at the moon’s surface

World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

For Canada, the IMF’s estimate for growth in 2019 was 1.9 per cent, down from expected global growth of 3.5 per cent

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

‘Gotti’ leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor

The nominations were announced on Monday, Jan. 21 with some movies earning up to six nominations

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Support pours in for Vancouver Island couple whose home was destroyed by massive blaze

GoFundMe page reached $10,000 in one day for soon-to-be parents

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

Most Read