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

Cooking with ‘Killer’

Reporter Dawn Gibson shares some of her favourite meals to make

WEB POLL: Would you support a B.C.-wide ban on single-use plastic bags?

Would you support a B.C.-wide ban on single-use plastic bags?… Continue reading

Vic-Alert faces tidal wave of registration after tsunami warnings

City of Victoria system is free and provides early warnings of disaster

Tsunami warning after earthquake rattles Saanich residents

Scenes straight out of a disaster movie unfolded across Saanich Tuesday morning… Continue reading

No evacuations in Sooke Region after tsunami warning

Biggest issue? People panicking prematurely, fire chief says

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

Victoria’s most wanted for the week of Jan. 23

Crime Stoppers will pay a reward of up to $2,000 for information that leads to arrests or the seizure of property or drug

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

Babcock, Goyette and Smyth honoured at Order of Hockey in Canada

Mike Babcock, from Saskatoon, guided the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2008

Bell Canada alerts customers who may be affected by latest data breach

Federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner said it had been notified

‘The tsunami alarm failed my household’: North Coast residents concerned over sirens, alerts

People living in northern communities share how they learned about Tuesday’s tsunami warning

Snowboarder dies at Vancouver Island ski resort

Death at Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Most Read