Jordan River was a lot busier in the 1920s than it is now.

Jordan River was a lot busier in the 1920s than it is now.

Jordan River in a 1920s winter

Elida Peers shares some of Jordan River's history with Sooke News Mirror readers

It’s hard to imagine, sometimes, the impact one individual can have on a community’s history. Such a man was Duncan Irving Walker, superintendent for V I Power Company, whose home is shown centre left.

If you were standing near the (now abandoned and derelict) powerhouse, built in 1910, looking towards the sea, this scene would have met your eyes in the early 1920s. Though the road connection to Sooke may have been impassable through winter snowfall, the community was self-contained, with its own facilities and commissary.

When D I Walker was charged with the responsibility of tapping the resources of the Jordan Meadows and Bear Creek watersheds to create a hydro-electric system that could power the city of Victoria, he was equal to the job. He understood that in addition to the engineering skills needed to build the vast power system, with its dams and reservoirs, 5 1/4 mile flume, penstocks, powerhouse with its turbines, and tailrace, he needed to build a community where the workers would be happy.

By 1920 Jordan River had its own school, orchestra, tennis and badminton courts, basketball teams, a company guest house, operators’ homes and a thriving social life. The scope of the enterprise was such that 1,000 men were employed early on, requiring bunkhouses and cookhouses plus a small hospital.

A narrow-gauge railway was built to haul supplies to the higher elevations, where a sawmill and working camps were established, generally experiencing deep snow in winter.  Drawn at first by horses, then a steam locomotive, the locomotives that came later were gas-powered.

Sharing the river valley during this time, Michigan Pacific Lumber, later Canadian Puget Sound Lumber and Timber Company, also employed hundreds of men. We have been told that the structure in the right rear was the roundhouse, housing locomotives, but we are uncertain whether this roundhouse was part of the extensive rail logging operations or was used by the power company.

D I Walker and his wife Katherine raised three sons and two daughters who also took an active part in community life.  V I Power became B C Electric and later B C Hydro.  In retirement, “D I” built the Jordan River Hotel in 1935. This enterprise remained a hub of the rapidly-changing community until it burned to the ground in 1984.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

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

Just Posted

A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

A tenant starter kit will help newly housed people transition from a survival mindset to a secure, safe place where they can start planning ahead. (Photo courtesy of Our Place)
Tenant starter kits help support people moving into long-term homes in Victoria

For the formerly homeless, it takes more than just the new address to transition

Sidney town crier Kenny Podmore delivers a proclamation honouring the late Prince Philip outside of city hall on April 17, the day of the Duke’s funeral. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Sidney)
Sidney, North Saanich honour the late Prince Philip with proclamation on Saturday

Sidney’s town crier delivered a proclamation for the Duke of Edinburgh outside of city hall

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Most Read