Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Sechelt: Self Guided Seaside Walking Tour

Sunrise at Snickett Park Photo Courtesy of Coracle Cove

Come and enjoy the rich heritage of Sechelt, “The Land Between Two Waters”, on a Self Guided Walking Tour.  Spend time enjoying the sights, taking photos, and participating in short walks to view points, on the many suggested stops.  Build a connection to the heritage of the Shishalh Nation with a visit to the First Nations Tems-swiya Museum and take a seaside walk with a stop at the blooming gardens Rockwood Lodge, the town’s most prominent heritage building.  


1. Tems-swiya Museum - Located in the Sechelt Indian Band's central complex at the east entrance to Sechelt. A showcase for the shishalh nation's lengthy history and diverse culture, the tems swiya museum offers a great display of artifacts and art. Displays and decor have been newly-remodeled. Check out the extensive basket collection, and visit the tsain ko gift shop for authentic Native art, jewellery and crafts.

2. Circle of Totems - The circle of totems tells the history and hopes of the Sechelt First Nation. 

Tori Gate Photo Courtesy of Takahashi Gardens
3. Tori Gate (Dock at Wharf Road) – This beautiful gate was erected in 2002 by the Timber Framers Guild of North America.  Guild members from across Canada and the United States came to Sechelt to help build this structure and the Seaside Centre.  The Tori Gate is the entrance to the pedestrian pier at Trail Bay.

Sechelt Pier Photo Courtesy of Sunshine Coast Tourism
4.  Sechelt Pier -  Built 2001 and donated to the community by Construction Aggregates Ltd.

5.  Site of the first Sechelt Hotel (to left of Tori Gate & pier) - Built on “The Front”, which was the name commonly used in the early days to describe the area of Sechelt facing Travel Bay, by Bert Whitaker in 1899.  The hotel accommodated workers and tourists.  Rooms were $2-$2.50/day.  It burnt to the ground in June 1914.  Many volunteers fought the blaze but water pressure was so inadequate that only ashes remained.  The tide was ebbing when fire erupted, so rescued mattresses and furniture were carried to the beach where a horse and wagon picked them up.  Furniture from the hotel was sitting on the beach after it was saved.  The hotel kitchen range was setup on Trail Bay beach and bread was baked in its oven.  

6. Site of the first Sechelt Wharf - In 1904, Bert Whitaker build a wharf at “the Front”.  Having established this access he sought to promote it as a resort as well as a throughfare.  He was also proprietor of the “Sechelt Fashionable Seaside Resort”.  The wharf was destroyed in January 1921, by “the worst storm in Sunshine Coast History”.

Sechelt Seawalk (front of Royal Terraces)
7. Site of the first General Store (now the Royal Terraces) - Most early retail activity in Sechelt centred around Bert Whitaker’s general store.  In addition to lumber and game, a customer could buy a variety of items from Whitaker’s store ranging from men’s or women’s clothes to combs, mirrors, perfume, mouth organs, material, and a variety of toys.  In the late 1920’s – early 1930’s, Union Steamship Company constructed a concrete seawall on the cobble beach.  Storms subsequently destroyed the western portion of the breakwater, but about 80 feet of it still remains intact, though barely visible, in front of Royal Terraces.

8. Site of the Dance Pavillion (now the Beach House condos) - Was built in 1926 on the boulevard between Inlet Avenue and Wharf Road.  Construction work was done by Ron Whitaker and his cousin Edric Clayton.  The lumber was provided by the BC Fir and Cedar Company.  The pavilion was enlarged in 1937 and for 45 years contributed a great variety of services to the Sechelt community until fire destroyed the landmark on May 27, 1971. 

9. Site of the original family home of Bert Whitaker (now the Driftwood Inn & Pebbles Restaurant) - One of Sechelt’s pioneer families, Albert & Henrietta Whitaker, built Beach House about 1905/06.  The house contained 7 bedrooms.  The Union Steamship Company purchased the private home in 1926 and operated it as a hotel annex and later as the Sechelt Inn until 1952, when they sold the business to Florence “Manny” Duncan.  She managed the hotel successfully for a decade before a fire on July 20, 1963 rendered the building uninhabitable.  As a safety measure the firemen deliberately set a second fire the following year, reducing the inn to ashes.  The Driftwood Inn was built on the land around 1965.

10. Green Cottage (1 of 2 cottages built by Bert Whitaker still in existence) - Bert Whitaker also erected several cottages on the waterfront, prior to 1926, for the purpose of renting them to vacationing families from Vancouver.  Two of them are still in existence: Green Cottage, also know as Killarney Cottage and Kwitcherkicken (pronounced:  quit-your-kickin).

Snickett Park
11. Snickett Park – An English term meaning “little trail”.  Annie Whitely, an Englishwoman who lived near the park would occasionally look out her window and comment that someone was going “through the snickett”.

12. Rockledge Cottage (2 of 2 cottages built by Bert Whitaker still in existence) – This is the second of the two cottages, still in existence, that Bert Whitaker built on the waterfront, prior to 1926, for the purpose of renting them to vacationing families from Vancouver. 

13. Justice Building - Housing the Provincial Court House and the RCMP.  It was built in 2002/2003.  The building is home to “a coastal meadow in the sky” green roof.  The Lightweight extensive green roof will reduce storm-water runoff, mitigate the heat island effect and conserve water. 

14. St. Hilda’s Anglican Church and Pioneer Graveyard - On November 15, 1936 St. Hilda’s Anglican Church was dedicated by Archbishop Adam Urias DePencier.  The church was erected on property donated by Thomas John Cook, and is located on land that also served as Sechelt’s first cemetery.  Mr. Cook started the burial ground in January 1923 when 4-month-old Regnheld Evelyn Davidson died at Doriston and her parents had no alternative site available.

15. Rockwood Lodge - Opened for business on July 27, 1936 by William & Jessie Youngson.  The Youngsons where Scottish people who came to the village in 1926.  Jessie was a superlative cook as well as a skilful and enthusiastic gardener.  The meals she served and the beautiful landscaping she and Bill achieved attracted vacationers as well as hydro and highway crews, travelling salesmen and all manner of government officials.  Indeed Rockwood came to be known as “Government House” because of the politicians, school inspectors, assessors, police officers and the like who found a home away from home at the lodge.  The Youngsons ran Rockwood successfully for 10 years.  After that, it changed ownership 6 times between 1946 and 1980.

The building is now home to the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, Canada's longest running summer gathering of Canadian writers and readers, featuring established literary stars and exciting, new voices... with opportunities for writers and readers to mingle amidst Rockwood's heritage gardens. 

16. Chatelech Elementary School  

17. Municipal Hall & Library - Built in 1996.

18. Cowrie Street – Originally known as “the back road”, became the centre of business and commerce when Highway 101 was paved in 1952.  For years, before Inlet and Trail Avenues were opened, people could only reach Cowrie by walking on a narrow plank sidewalk over the snake-infested bog behind the berm along Trail Bay.

19. Sechelt Shell Station - Frank French opened the first garage & Taxi Service in 1930.  The gas was hand pumped.  In July of 1957 Cliff Connor opened “Cliff’s Shell Service”, after taking over the station from Frank Solnik, and in 1961 Shell Oil spent $25,000 revamping the station.

Cowrie Street during the Annual Show & Shine
20. Cowrie Lane - Home of the jail, courthouse and police station in the 1950’s

21. Dentist Office - Built in 1930’s as a home and accommodation for visitors.  Called Glendalough, which was the home of Jack and Carrie Mayne.

22. Bank of Montreal Mural -  “Catch of the Day” circa 1912.  Used as advertising to attract tourists to the salmon fishing in the area. 

23. Cenotaph  

24.  Porpoise Bay Government Wharf  - Access to Sechelt in the early days of its development was almost exclusively by sea.  This meant that establishing a landing for sea traffic was instrumental in the community’s development.  The original government wharf at Porpoise Bay was constructed in 1923-24. The location of this wharf was basically the same as that of the present site. The government wharf superstructure was renewed in 1969.  The floats have been renewed or maintained on an “as required” basis.  The seaplane float was installed in 1965.  New floats for the wharf were put in place in July 1974, and were built on foam pontoons, which will presumably enjoy a much longer life than fibreglass pontoons or earlier wooden supports.
25. Lighthouse Pub & Odyssey Buildings - The Lighthouse tower, at 65’, is the highest structure in Sechelt.  The Lighthouse Pub and Odyssey buildings were purchased from Expo 86.  It may have been either the Bavarian Beer Gardens or the Munich Festhause.  Both were German style beer parlours.

26.  Poise Island - Sechelt natives buried their dead here a placed them in trees during the smallpox epidemic of 1862/63.  Until 1945 it was known as Skeleton Island, Dead Man’s Island and Cooks Island. 

Sechelt March Photo courtesy of Coracle Cove
27. Sechelt Duck March - Formerly known as “the bog”, high tide would often cover the road to Porpoise Bay.  The natural interaction of the fresh water from the marsh mixing in with the salt water from the ocean creates an environment attracting many different species of bird wildlife.      The Sechelt Marsh draws the attention of many birds to the area like woodpeckers, buffleheads, redwing blackbirds, swallows, Canada Geese, malards and many more water friendly birds.

28.  Sechelt Arts Centre -  In the late 1970’s the Sunshine Coast Art Council embarked on a community building project led by Clarke Steabner and funded through a job-training grant to teach log construction.  With donated labour, equipment, and supplies, including timber from their own property, Clarke and the others shaped and assembled the logs and erected the Sechelt Arts Centre, which opened in 1979.

Snickett Park Photo Courtesy of Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite

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