History

Overview Of Army Camp.jpg

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How It All Began

Our Land

 

1890’s

 

Our park was originally the Edward Sheilds property and later became part of the Joseph Poirier Jr. family farm and was used as a community picnic area.

Jonathon Milligan began logging in the Otter Point area in the late 1890s. With the help of his four sons and Joe Poirier the logs they felled were hauled by teams of horses along skid roads to the beach to the west of our dock.  If you walk down that beach, you can still find remnants of the old skids and wood used around them!

An 1894 map identifies a racecourse at on the Edward Sheilds property (currently our park) and an archival photo at the Sooke Region Museum refers to it as the ‘Indian Race Track’ and shows a horse race in progress.

1930’s

 

Our property was expropriated from the Poirier family by the federal government during the 1930's depression era to be used as a 'Relief Camp'. The young men from the camp were employed in various local community projects including the construction of West Coast Road from the vicinity of Woodside Farm in Sooke to the west side of Gordon’s Beach where the road then connected with the existing Otter Point Road to Jordan River.

1940’s

 

In 1939, the 'Relief Camp' became an Army training camp. Initially
used by the Canadian Scottish Regiment before World War II
began, it remained in use throughout the war as a training camp
for local regiments as well as for soldiers from other parts of
Canada, particularly Ontario.

During this time the area on the west side of the site was partially
filled in; a process which was continued after the War to extend
the area where our park is now located.

While the Army occupied the property there were often training

exercises happening around Otter Point. Route marches would

take place up Kemp Lake Road and along Otter Point Road.

There was an infantry training area on the north side of Tugwell

Road near Goudie Road and evidence of old trenches and tank

traps were seen in that area as late as the 1970s.

 

Practice aerial “bombing” runs during WWII using sacks of flour

happened in the Tugwell Road area, at Gordon’s Beach and on

bridges crossing Tugwell and Muir Creeks.

Rumor has it that a cannon ball launcher may still be buried on
the southeast corner of the property by the chain link fence!

 

 

1950’s to Present Day

 

The property was sold after the war and became the site of an auto court and a marina during the 1950s and 1960s.

 

In 1979 'Otter Point Lands Ltd.' developed the site (along with the mobile home park site next door) and on July 15, 1980 the 'Otter Point Recreational Cooperative Association'  was incorporated. 

 

The original land is now the site of the Olympic View Mobile Home Park, our park and what was the Kemp Lake Store and Café. In 2019, in a sign of the times – the old Kemp Lake Store became the ‘High Tides’ cannabis retail store.  The store is still the original structure.

 

 

Fresh Water

  • To service the 1930’s era Depression Relief Camp, a 1 inch by
    8 inch open wooden trough was built from a spring on the
    ‘Blythe farm’ and used gravity to move water from the spring
    to a 500 gallon storage tank at the 'Relief Camp'. The ‘free
    flowing’ waterline crossed what is now West Coast Road on
    an overhead trestle.

     

  • In 1939 or ‘40, the Army replaced the waterline with an
    enclosed 4 inch wooden stave pipe line that was buried
    about 6 inches deep.

     

  • The Kemp Lake Water District (KLWD) was formed on
    May 26, 1953.  Water from Kemp Lake was one of the
    few sources of natural drinking water in the area.

     

  • In 1960, work began to replace and relocate the waterline
    route.  A 4 inch asbestos-cement pipe was installed.
    By 1962, the line went  as far as West Coast Road and
    the wooden stave line was abandoned.

     

  • In the 1970’s, the line was replaced with a 6 inch plastic (PVC) line.
     

  • In July 2018, a Provincial mandate made it necessary for the KLWD to connect to the Capital Regional District (CRD) water system.  The acquisition of a $2,000.000 loan was necessary to complete the work.  The costs were passed along to the 450 + customers of the KLWD.
     

  • On May 3, 2020 access to the CRD water system began and water from Kemp Lake was disabled.

1896 - Milligan's Logging At Poirier Cov
1930's - Relief Camp Men Building West C
1930's Open Flume Waterline To Relief Ca
1935 - Entrance To Otter Point Relief Ca
1942 - Otter Point Army Camp.webp
1942 - Otter Point Army Camp (2).webp
KLWD - Race Track Drawing.webp
1950's - KLWD - Waterline To Army Camp.w
1943 - Photo Of Park From Water.webp
Map

The land our park occupies has a rich history.   We are grateful to be the stewards of it now . . .